Queen Elizabeth Once Hid in a Bush to Escape a Controversial Buckingham Palace Guest

Christopher Luu

Queen Elizabeth may seem like the epitome of social grace and poise, but it turns out that even the Queen of England gets in over her head sometimes. In a new ITV documentary, Our Queen: Inside the Crown, there's a scene involving Queen Elizabeth slipping away from a certain controversial guest — by hiding in a bush.

It happened back in 1978, when Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceaușescu paid a visit to Buckingham Palace. People notes that Elizabeth is no stranger to big names with big reputations, but nobody tested her patience the way that Ceaușescu did during his four-day visit to England. Naturally, when Ceaușescu arrived, the British Government decided that he and his wife would have dinner at Buckingham Palace, even though he was unpopular with the general public.

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"The press started to question the foreign secretary," Robert Hardman revealed in the documentary. He even noted that people were starting to wonder, "Why are we inviting this monster to come to Britain?" According to the documentary, the queen and Prince Philip greeted the Ceaușescus at London's Victoria train station. Together, they all took an open-top carriage ride to Buckingham Palace.

As for the bush incident, Hardman says that nobody is sure whether or not Ceaușescu realized it, but it happened when the queen was walking her dogs.

"On the occasion when they were staying she took the corgis out for a walk in the palace gardens and she could see the Ceaușescus coming the other way," Hardman said. "She thought, 'I really can't face talking to them,' so the first and only time in her life, she actually hid in a bush in the palace gardens to avoid her guests."

Hardman isn't the only official to describe just how unhappy Elizabeth was with the visit.

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"The Queen puts up with many different people, but Ceaușescu was too much for her,” former British Foreign Secretary Lord David Owen said. "She made it quite plain she didn't like that visit!"

As for the people the queen has put up with, Vladimir Putin, Syrian leader Bashar-Al-Assad, and Zimbabwe dictator Robert Mugabe are among some of the more contentious names. Even the United States's President Carter caused a stir — he kissed the Queen Mother on the lips during his visit, which caused her to "take an abrupt step back and saying that nobody had done that since her husband (George VI) died."