A royal footman has told how the Queen burst into fits of laughter when she caught him flashing his private parts in a kilt for a photo.
John Gibson, who served the Queen and Prince Philip for six years had no idea the royal was hiding behind a hedge while he had the image of his privates taken as a prank by a group of Scottish soldiers.
He was left stunned when he heard Elizabeth, then aged 23, laughing – before she then quizzed him about the snap while he was serving dinner later.
It happened in August, 1949, when John was serving then Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip during a holiday at the Balmoral estate in Scotland.
A group of Scottish soldiers patrolling the grounds of the estate thought it would be a laugh to swap uniforms and see how John’s footman’s outfit felt.
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While John also tried on their army gear including the kilt which had to be worn without underwear.
To prove he did it correctly one of the soldiers took a snap.
John said: “I got quite friendly with some of the Scottish soldiers who were doing guard duty outside. They used to eat in our dining room.
“One afternoon they asked me for a joke if I would like to wear a kilt. I said I would. So we went into the staff room, exchanged clothes and went for a walk down the drive.
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“He was in my footman’s uniform, and I was in his kilt. For decency’s sake I’d wanted to keep my underpants on, but they told me that wasn’t allowed.
“‘It’s one of the rules of the regiment,’ they said. ‘We don’t wear pants in the army’.
John said he agreed reluctantly.
He wrote: “So we set of on this walk down the drive. I took a camera and for a laugh one of them took a mirror.
“Standing in front of a hedge, I posed in the kilt while he stood in the middle of the road taking photographs with my camera.
“Then they wanted to know if I really had removed my pants. Suddenly they remembered the mirror. He took it out of his pocket and put in on the ground between my feet, then he knelt down – and looked in the mirror.
“‘I can see!’ he yelled to the others. ‘No. He hasn’t got them on.’
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“We all roared with laughter. So did Princess Elizabeth. None of us had the faintest idea that she was just on the other side of the hedge.
“At dinner than night she was still laughing and wanted to know if I had enjoyed having my photograph taken.”
The tale is from John’s out-of-print memoir "From Belfast’s Sandy Row to Buckingham Palace". He moved to London aged 19 and four months later landed a job as a kitchen porter at Buckingham Palace.
He rose to the position of ‘second footman’ to Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip before quitting his job in 1952 to settle down with his royal cook wife Betty.
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