Unearthed clip shows Queen joking around and talking French with world leaders

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·Royal Correspondent
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Watch: Queen chats in French at 1991 G7 as Princess Diana and Margaret Thatcher mingle in archive footage

The Queen speaks French and call a former prime minister "expendable" while Charles talks about funding his way through a course by selling paintings in an unearthed clip of the G7 summit in 1991.

The clip shared on TikTok and Twitter shows the Queen entertaining leaders from around the world at Buckingham Palace, and Princess Diana can also be spotted in the background.

Diana can be seen gesturing to Norma Major, but it's not obvious what the two women are discussing.

Meanwhile the Queen, now 95, demonstrates her French in a chat with then French president Francois Mitterrand. 

Margaret Thatcher greets Japanese prime minister Toshiki Kaifu, and tells him she enjoyed their recent chat, before turning to his wife and expressing her eagerness to go to Japan.

At the time she was a backbencher, having left office in November 1990 after a coup within her party.

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Prince Charles is then seen telling another attendee about going to summer school, adding: "I'm quite pleased because I managed to fund it from the sale of my own lithographs, my paintings, so at least I feel I've earned it."

He may have been discussing the summer school he ran at his Institute of Architecture in the 1980s.

The Queen, in a yellow dress, can be seen speaking to then US Secretary of State James Baker and former prime minister Edward Heath, about the situation in the Gulf at the time.

Baker had met with Tariq Aziz, who was Iraq's foreign minister and deputy prime minister at the time, in January of 1991. Heath had gone to Baghdad in 1990 to negotiate the release of passengers on a British Airways flight taken hostage when Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait.

Britain's Queen Elizabeth II leads French President François Mitterrand (L), German Chancellor Helmut Kohl (R) and other participants onto a balcony of Buckingham Palace following a banquet during the London 17th G7 Summit on July 16, 1991. (Photo by JEAN-LOUP GAUTREAU / AFP)        (Photo credit should read JEAN-LOUP GAUTREAU/AFP via Getty Images)
The Queen with French President François Mitterrand (L), German Chancellor Helmut Kohl (R) and other participants on a balcony of Buckingham Palace following a banquet during the London 17th G7 Summit in 1991. (Jean-Loup Gautreau/AFP)

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Heath tells the Queen: "I was absolutely blunt with him and I told him the situation, but nobody else went and told him this.

"Now I get a message from him that he rather wishes he'd listened to my advice."

She appears to start speaking, and says "I mean..." before Baker says: "He paid no attention to anything."

The Queen then says: "I just wonder so much, is he, I mean he is master of his own situation is he?"

And when told "absolutely" she continues: "It's very interesting isn't it to have someone who has been morally, nominally and in every way else defeated...."

Heath adds: "The more we try to ram it in, the more his people will support him."

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The Queen's conversation with Baker and Heath continues later in the clip, with Baker saying: "I told Tariq Aziz in six hours exactly that so we told him exactly what would happen if they didn't."

The Queen says to Heath: "He couldn't go to Baghdad like you" and laughs as she says: "Well I know you did, you're expendable."

Laughing, Heath says: "Well lots of people might be secretary of state."

As the call is made for the photo, often dubbed the family photo of leaders, Barbara Bush jokes about them only needing "the boys" for the picture, as Diana laughs.

The situation in the Gulf was a big topic throughout the 17th G7 summit, which was held in London in 1991. Iraq had invaded Kuwait in August 1990 and the US and coalition forces responded by deploying forces and waging war.

The summit's conclusion was: "Many countries have suffered economically as a result of the Gulf crisis. We welcome the success of the Gulf Crisis Financial Co-ordination Group in mobilising nearly $16 billion of assistance for those countries suffering the most direct economic impact of the Gulf Crisis and urge all donors to complete disbursements rapidly. Extensive assistance is being provided by Summit participants for the Mediterranean and the Middle East, as well as by the IMF and World Bank."

A second conclusion on the Middle East was: "We believe that enhanced economic co-operation in this area, on the basis of the principles of non-discrimination and open trade, could help repair the damage and reinforce political stability. We welcome the plans of major oil exporting countries for providing financial assistance to others in the region and their decision to establish a Gulf Development Fund. 

"We support closer links between the international financial institutions and Arab and other donors. We believe this would encourage necessary economic reforms, promote efficient use of financial flows, foster private sector investment, stimulate trade liberalisation and facilitate joint projects, e.g., in water management, which would draw on our technical skills and expertise."

UNITED KINGDOM - JULY 16:  Queen Elizabeth receives G7 members at Buckingham Palace in London, United Kingdom on July 16, 1991.  (Photo by Chip HIRES/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)
The Queen chats to leaders at the G7 in 1991. (Chip Hires/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)

Douglas Hogg, then foreign secretary, told the House of Commons after the conference: "The G7 agreed to maintain sanctions against Iraq until all the relevant resolutions of the Security Council have been implemented in full and the people of Iraq, as well as their neighbours, can live without fear of intimidation, repression or attack. The summit agreed that the Iraqi people deserve the opportunity to choose their leadership openly and democratically. Preventive diplomacy to help avert future conflicts by making clear to potential aggressors the consequences of their actions will also be a top priority."

Seeing the video, The Times's royal correspondent Valentine Low tweeted: "What is noticeable here: 1. How well informed and articulate the Queen is and 2. How the men, including Heath, insist on talking over her."

The next year, 1992, was a tumultuous one for the Royal Family, which the Queen ended up calling her "annus horribilis". A large fire destroyed parts of Windsor Castle, secret recordings of calls between Prince Charles and Camilla, then Parker-Bowles, were released, and Prince Andrew and Princess Anne's marriages were in trouble too.

Three decades on, the Queen still commands the room at a G7 summit. She hosted leaders in Cornwall earlier this year and was told afterwards that she was "quite the hit" by Australian prime minister Scott Morrison during a meeting with him in Windsor Castle.

Video footage of her during this year's family photo showed her joking with leaders, asking if they were meant to look like they were enjoying themselves.

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