How Prince Andrew's 'rudeness' shocked American ambassador

Prince Andrew used a private audience with a group of British businessmen to offer his "astonishingly candid" thoughts on the shortcomings of the Serious Fraud Office (SFO), journalists and France, according to leaked diplomatic dispatches.

In his role as Britain's special trade representative, the Duke of York travels the world meeting foreign dignitaries to press the flesh on behalf of UK Plc. But while off duty during a visit with a British delegation to the Central Asian country of Kyrgyzstan, Prince Andrew revealed his forthright personal views as he led a discussion that, according to an American diplomat, "verged on the rude".

An exhaustive account of a two-hour brunch held in a hotel in October 2008 with British and Canadian entrepreneurs shows how Prince Andrew railed against SFO corruption investigators for their "idiocy" in looking into an arms deal with Saudi Arabia and repeatedly implied that the French turned either a blind eye to, or indulged in, corruption. Tatiana Gfoeller, Washington's ambassador to Kyrgyzstan who had been invited to the meeting by her British counterpart, revealed in the confidential telegram that Prince Andrew had spoken "cockily", vowing to win a replay of the Great Game against Russia and China in the region while at the same time openly accusing the son of the Kyrgyz President of graft.

Ms Gfoeller, a veteran diplomat and academic who speaks six languages, wrote: "In an astonishing display of candour in a public hotel where the brunch was taking place, all of the businessmen then chorused that nothing gets done in Kyrgyzstan if President [Kurmanbek] Bakiyev's son Maxim does not get his 'cut'. Prince Andrew took up the topic with gusto, saying that he keeps hearing Maxim's name 'over and over again'."

Lawyers for Maxim Bakiyev, who is currently living in exile in Britain after fleeing Kyrgyzstan when his father was ousted this summer, said he "absolutely denies" the claims that he took a percentage from deals struck with local companies. Mr Bakiyev is seeking asylum in Britain.

In a passage entitled "Rude language a la British", the American ambassador described how Prince Andrew, 50, had warmed to his themes towards the end of the gathering. She wrote: "He turned to the general issue of promoting British economic interests abroad. He railed at British anti-corruption investigators, who had the 'idiocy' of almost scuttling the Al-Yamama deal with Saudi Arabia."

Explaining that Prince Andrew was referring to the SFO's investigation into alleged kickbacks paid to a senior Saudi royal in return for the multi-year arms deal with BAE Systems, Ms Gfoeller said the businessmen "roared their approval" before Prince Andrew attacked "these [expletive] journalists... who poke their noses everywhere" and whose activities "presumably make it harder for British businessmen to do business". The ambassador noted: "The crowd practically clapped."

The discussion had earlier touched on allegations about the prevalence of corruption in Kyrgyzstan, provoking one businessman to liken the former Soviet satellite state to the Yukon in the 19th century: "ie only those willing to participate in local corrupt practices are able to make money."

The dispatch continued: "At this point the Duke of York laughed uproariously, saying that: 'All of this sounds exactly like France.' Andrew then made a second disparaging reference to France when the group complained that non-Western investors failed to demand improvement in Kyrgyz business practices, saying: 'They won't need to make any changes to attract the French either.'"

Ms Gfoeller credited Prince Andrew for his "cordiality and respect" towards her, before noting the effusive response towards him from his audience. She wrote: "On the way out, one of them confided to the ambassador: 'What a wonderful representative for the British people! We could not be prouder of our Royal Family.'"

The leaked cables also offer an insight into American views of the hierarchy in neighbouring Kazakhstan, where Prince Andrew has built cordial relations with President Nursultan Nazarbayev. In an April 2009 memo, the ambassador, Richard Hoagland, said: "Corruption is endemic among Kazakhstani officialdom."

It was revealed earlier this year that Timur Kulibayev, the billionaire son-in-law of the Kazakh President, paid £15m for Prince Andrew's Surrey mansion, Sunninghill Park, which had been on the market for a long period. The sum was £3m over the asking price.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

The Green Recruitment Company: Operations Manager - Anaerobic Digestion / Biogas

£40000 - £45000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: Operation...

SThree: Experienced Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £40000 per annum + OTE + Incentives + Benefits: SThree: Established f...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Maintenance Person

£7 - £8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This care organisation take pride in del...

Recruitment Genius: Care Worker

£7 - £8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This care organisation take pride in del...

Day In a Page

Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent