Screen shot from BBC News

British Prime Minister David Cameron was scarcely able to bask in the toasty glow of his empire’s victory after Scotland’s vote last Thursday to stay in the U.K. before he found himself caught up in a PR disaster involving the queen of said empire, a hot mic, and cat noises. Most unfortunate.

Cameron had pulled out the stops to woo the Scots in the final run-up to their independence referendum, so when it was decided in favor of keeping Britain intact, the PM was relieved, and he was no longer in danger of being relieved of his position.

However, he ran into trouble Tuesday in New York City when, in what he believed to be a private conversation, Cameron told former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg what it was really like to endure that nail-biter of a moment with HRH the queen of England watching.

Cameron relayed his experience to his host while strolling around the offices of Bloomberg’s media empire (via BBC News):

Recalling that he had called the Queen to say “it’s all right”, he said: “She purred down the line. I’ve never heard someone so happy.”

[…] He was also critical of opinion polls in the run-up to the vote, which had suggested the result could go either way.

Mr Cameron said: “It should never have been that close. It wasn’t in the end, but there was a time in the middle of the campaign when it felt… I’ve said I want to find these polling companies and I want to sue them for my stomach ulcers because of what they put me through, you know. It was very nervous.”

It all seems innocuous enough — a bit of a gossipy power huddle between two members of the international elite — except for two factors: Cameron’s microphone was still on, and as prime minister, it’s a breach of protocol to tell tales out of Buckingham Palace like that. What goes on in discussions between the PM and the queen is officially off the record, in other words.

Queen Elizabeth II and her aides have kept their silence since what is now unfortunately (for Cameron) known in the Twitterverse as #purrgate.

Meanwhile, Scotland’s First Minister Alex Salmond, who quit his post Friday after his side’s bid for Scottish independence lost at the polls, had no problem commenting, telling BBC Scotland on Tuesday: “David Cameron has been prime minister for four years and he hasn’t learned basic civility on not gossiping about what Her Majesty The Queen thinks, or doesn’t think, to Michael Bloomberg, or anyone else for that matter.”

Salmond added that Cameron’s indiscretion is “absolutely pathetic” and recommended that he “hang his head in shame.” Salmond had previously accused Cameron of resorting to underhanded maneuvers to sway Scottish voters at the last minute.

Of course, this can all be dismissed as silly business that only confirms that high-level statecraft in this sovereignty well past its expiration date actually plays out like an especially schlocky episode of “Downton Abbey.” But quality aside, and regardless of anyone’s opinion on the matter, it is now part of the global political game to be constantly monitored and recorded — and sometimes that goes for heads of state, too.

Watch the video of Cameron talking to Bloomberg below (via Bloomberg News, of course):

–Posted by Kasia Anderson

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