Theresa May’s ‘dropped cheese’ Queen anecdote reduces Commons to laughter

·2-min read

Former prime minister Theresa May has reduced the House of Commons to laughter with a story about the Queen and some dropped cheese.

Mrs May smiled as she described the encounter with the late Queen - well-known for her mischievous sense of humour - to MPs who have gathered in Parliament for tributes to the monarch.

“Her Majesty loved the countryside, and she was down to earth and a woman of common sense,” recalled the Maidenhead MP.

“I remember one picnic at Balmoral, which was taking place in one of the bothies on the estate. The hampers came from the castle, and we all mucked in to put the food and drink out on the table.

“I picked up some cheese, put it on a plate and was transferring it to the table. The cheese fell on the floor. I had a split-second decision to make.”

Mrs May paused as MPs burst into laughter, before adding: “I picked up the cheese, put it on the plate and put it on the table. I turned round to see that my every move had been watched very carefully by Her Majesty the Queen.

“I looked at her. She looked at me and she just smiled. And the cheese remained on the table.”

HM Queen II Corgis

Queen Elizabeth II stroking Candy, her corgi dog, as she looks at a display of memorabilia from her Golden and Platinum Jubilees (POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Queen Elizabeth II stroking Candy, her corgi dog, as she looks at a display of memorabilia from her Golden and Platinum Jubilees (POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Queen Elizabeth II during a visit to the Roman site of Vindolanda near Hadrian's Wall in Northumberland, with a corgi bred by the Queen and then owned by Lady Beaumont. (PA)
Queen Elizabeth II during a visit to the Roman site of Vindolanda near Hadrian's Wall in Northumberland, with a corgi bred by the Queen and then owned by Lady Beaumont. (PA)
Queen Elizabeth II leaving Buckingham Palace, London, for Windsor Castle to socially distance herself amid the coronavirus pandemic. (PA)
Queen Elizabeth II leaving Buckingham Palace, London, for Windsor Castle to socially distance herself amid the coronavirus pandemic. (PA)
Queen Elizabeth II poses, with the England rugby squad at a reception at Buckingham Palace in London to celebrate winning the Rugby World Cup, accompanied by one of her beloved Corgis. (POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Queen Elizabeth II poses, with the England rugby squad at a reception at Buckingham Palace in London to celebrate winning the Rugby World Cup, accompanied by one of her beloved Corgis. (POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Queen Elizabeth II is greeted by local corgi enthusiasts as she departs the Legislature Building in Edmonton, Alberta Tuesday 23 May 2005, during the state visit to Canada. (PA)
Queen Elizabeth II is greeted by local corgi enthusiasts as she departs the Legislature Building in Edmonton, Alberta Tuesday 23 May 2005, during the state visit to Canada. (PA)
Queen Elizabeth II, Andrew, Edward and two corgis watch TV at Sandringham in 1969 (JOAN WILLIAMS)
Queen Elizabeth II, Andrew, Edward and two corgis watch TV at Sandringham in 1969 (JOAN WILLIAMS)
Corgi puppies being carried on to an Andover of the Queen's Flight as Queen Elizabeth II arrives at London's Heathrow Airport to board the plane for her flight to Aberdeen and the start of her annual holiday at Balmoral. (PA)
Corgi puppies being carried on to an Andover of the Queen's Flight as Queen Elizabeth II arrives at London's Heathrow Airport to board the plane for her flight to Aberdeen and the start of her annual holiday at Balmoral. (PA)
Queen Elizabeth II with a corgi in the grounds of Sandringham House, Norfolk, to mark the 30th anniversary of the Queen’s accession to the throne. (PA)
Queen Elizabeth II with a corgi in the grounds of Sandringham House, Norfolk, to mark the 30th anniversary of the Queen’s accession to the throne. (PA)
Queen Elizabeth II with Prince Charles and Princess Anne on a garden bench with the Queen's corgi, Sue, in Balmoral, Scotland. (PA)
Queen Elizabeth II with Prince Charles and Princess Anne on a garden bench with the Queen's corgi, Sue, in Balmoral, Scotland. (PA)
Prince Edward and a pet Corgi attracting the attention of Queen Elizabeth II as the Royal Family were posing in the gardens at Frogmore, Windsor. (PA)
Prince Edward and a pet Corgi attracting the attention of Queen Elizabeth II as the Royal Family were posing in the gardens at Frogmore, Windsor. (PA)

The Conservative former prime minister described Queen Elizabeth II as “quite simply the most remarkable person I have ever met”.

During her tribute in the Commons, she also recounted her weekly audiences with the monarch during her time as prime minister.

She said: “Across the nations of the world, for so many people, meeting Queen Elizabeth simply made their day and for many will be the memory of their life.

“Of course, for those of us who had the honour to serve as one of her prime ministers, those meetings were more frequent with the weekly audiences.

“These were not meetings with a high and mighty monarch, but a conversation with a woman of experience and knowledge and immense wisdom. They were also the one meeting I went to, which I knew it would not be briefed out to the media.”

This comment too was met with gales of laughter from MPs, before Mrs May added: “What made those audiences so special was the understanding the Queen had of issues which came from the work she put into her red boxes, combined with her years of experience.”