Wikileaks controversy: Prince rails at 'corrupt, stupid and backward'
WHEN the newly appointed US ambassador to Kyrgyzstan sat down to a business leaders' brunch with the Duke of York -- Prince Andrew -- she was no doubt expecting a brisk one-hour briefing on investment opportunities in the central Asian republic.
Instead, Tatania Gfoeller was taken aback as the prince gave full rein to his undiplomatic views on a host of foreign powers, roaring with laughter as he apparently denounced them as corrupt, stupid or backward.
The ambassador to Bishkek was so surprised that she fired off a 2,000-word dispatch to Washington detailing the prince's colourful language during a discussion dominated by his "unmitigated patriotic fervour".
The meeting took place on October 28, 2008, at a hotel in Bishkek, where the British ambassador, Paul Brummell, had invited his US counterpart to join a table of British and Canadian investors in Kyrgyzstan before the prince met the Kyrgyz prime minister.
"Astonishingly candid, the discussion at times verged on the rude (from the British side)," wrote Ms Gfoeller.
The discussion began with the mining and oil bosses grumbling about the system in Kyrgyzstan, where "nothing gets done" without the president's son's approval.
"Prince Andrew took up the topic with gusto" and "laughed uproariously, saying that: 'All of this sounds exactly like France'"
The prince turned to regional politics and "stated baldly" that "the United Kingdom, Western Europe (and by extension you Americans too)" were "now back in the thick of playing the Great Game". Ms Gfoeller added: "More animated than ever, he stated cockily: 'And this time we aim to win!'"
But the Prince looked like he was just getting started," she wrote. He referred first to the Serious Fraud Office's six-year investigation into allegations of bribery surrounding BAE Systems' Al-Yamama arms deal with Saudi Arabia. "He railed at British anti-corruption investigators," wrote Ms Gfoeller, "who had the 'idiocy' of almost scuttling the Al-Yamama deal".
"He went on to 'these (expletive) journalists', especially from the national 'Guardian', who poke their noses everywhere and (presumably) make it harder for British businessmen to do business.
"He then capped this off with a zinger: castigating 'our stupid British and American governments' which plan for 10 years, whereas people in this part of the world plan for centuries."
Buckingham Palace refused to comment on the "private" conversation, but a royal source defended the prince, saying: "He is consumed with doing the best he can for British business, and that is sometimes reflected in his colourful language." (© Daily Telegraph, London)