Welcome to the new Independent website. We hope you enjoy it and we value your feedback. Please contact us here.

'Who are you?': Queen not amused by Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt’s James Bond joke, and a typically blunt Prince Philip doesn’t even know who he is

Onlookers said Mr Hunt looked thoroughly snubbed by the whole exchange

Even the coolest of celebrities admit to feeling nervous when meeting the Queen, so perhaps it isn’t the best idea to use the occasion to flex your wit.

Jeremy Hunt certainly could have done with that advice last night, when his joke to the Queen about her starring role in the Olympic opening ceremony fell somewhat flat.

As the Queen greeted guests at a Buckingham Palace event to thank those involved in the Diamond Jubilee celebrations, the Health Secretary told her: “I read about a Japanese tourist who said afterwards how wonderful our Queen must be to take part in that, as they would never get their emperor to jump out of the plane.”

According to onlookers, the joke was met with a silent pause by the Queen, who eventually broke into a polite smile, shrugged and moved on.

Mr Hunt was then approached by a stern Duke of Edinburgh who, in a typically brusque fashion, asked him “Who are you?”.

Prince Philip's best gaffes

Hunt explained his current role as Health Secretary and his previous job as Culture Secretary during the Diamond Jubilee and Olympics, only for the Duke to snap: “Well they do move you people on a lot.”

Onlookers said Mr Hunt looked thoroughly snubbed by the whole exchange.

The Evening Standard reported a source close to the Health Secretary as insisting the Queen was amused by Mr Hunt’s joke, but admitted the Duke’s blunt comments had been accurately reported.

The occasion was a grand reception at Buckingham Palace last night to thank those involved in the Diamond Jubilee celebrations.

Mr Hunt, who was standing in a line of guests beside celebrity chef Heston Blumenthal during the meeting, later said he read about the tourist in a newspaper. He said: “The jubilee was the start of a totally magnificent summer that brought us closer together as a nation. As David Cameron said, it reminded us just how lucky we are to have the Queen at the centre of our national life.”

More than 350 people who helped organise the summer Jubilee celebrations were thanked by the Queen last night and treated to champagne in the White Drawing Room.

They included pop star Gary Barlow, who was asked by the Queen if he “had recovered” from setting up the Buckingham Palace concert. He replied: “Yes, but have you recovered Ma’am?” The Queen answered: “I think so, yes.”