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Diplomatic Insults

The art of the polished snub and subtle put down have been part and parcel of the diplomat's trade long before the Queen's celebrated visit to Morocco in 1980. The whole civil service has been schooled in the practice for centuries. During the reign of Louis XIV of France relations between England and France were anything but cordial, the fear of Catholicism and 'Popery' governed internal as well as external English politics.

One English visitor to the court of the Sun King was taken on a conducted tour of the royal gallery by the King himself. Louis took particular pleasure in showing his guest a picture of the Crucifixion, which he knew would rub him up the wrong way because it was flanked by two portraits guaranteed to rile any Protestant.

That on the right is the Pope,' said the King, 'And that on the left is myself.'

'I humbly thank your majesty for this information,' replied the guest. 'For though I often heard that our Lord was crucified between two thieves, I never knew who they were until now.'

He's the sort of man you can rely on to lay down your life for his country.

During the early stages of the war, when everything seemed to be favouring the Axis powers, Hermann Goering joined Hitler on a visit to Rome to see Mussolini. There was such a crowd milling about on the platform that they had to push their way through to the official car waiting to collect them. As he was barging his way through after Hitler, Goering rudely jostled an aristocratic looking Italian, who immediately turned on him and demanded an apology.

'I am Hermann Goering.' the huge Nazi retorted: Hearing this the Italian bowed politely and replied:

'As an excuse that is inadequate, but as an explanation it is ample.'

He's always followed the same path throughout his political career— the path of glory that leads to the gravy.

When Eva Peron was on a visit to Europe in the 1950s she was dissatisfied with the reception that she received, one that in her opinion did not accord with her position as wife of the ruler of Argentina. She wasn't Invited to visit the Queen and the Pope overlooked giving her a private audience. The final insult came, she explained to one host, when someone in a crowd called her a 'whore'.

'Quite so,' the man said, 'but I haven't been on a ship for years and they still call me Admiral.'

He's the perfect liberal politician. He'll do anything for the workers except become one of them.

Although George III was probably the least disliked of the Hanoverian kings there were many influential men in the country who would gladly have seen the back of him. However, many of them tolerated the king for the simple reason that they viewed the prospect of the Prince Regent taking his father's place with even greater loathing. John Wilkes, the famous Lord Mayor of London and member of Parliament, even went as far as showing his disdain for the Prince at a formal dinner given in his honour, by proposing a toast to the King's health, a thing which no one had ever known him do before. The Prince asked Wilkes sardonically how long he had shown such concern for his father's well-being and received the reply:

'Since I had the pleasure of your Royal Highness's acquaintance.'

He won his seat on promises that go in one year and out the other.


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