Queen Inspects Gold Bullion Deep Below Bank Of England
As the financial crisis hit in 2008, she spoke for the nation when she asked a group of economists: âWhy did nobody notice?â
Four years on, the Queen finally got her answer â although it didnât seem much to her liking.
The monarch was visiting the Bank of England in Threadneedle Street yesterday when she was buttonholed by one of its financial policy experts.
Royal inspection: The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh were shown the vaults at the Bank of England where thousands of gold bars are kept
Sujit Kapadia said he wanted to put her mind at rest after she famously described the credit crunch as âawfulâ during a visit to the London School of Economics in 2008.
At the time, she asked academics how the onset of the crisis could have been missed when it was so enormous.
Yesterday Mr Kadapia told her that it was partly because financial crises, like flu pandemics and earthquakes, are hard to predict.
People, she was also informed, got complacent because they thought the risk was being managed better than before.
The Queen grimaced at this and said: âBut people had got a bit…lax, had they?â
Usually, she is notoriously discreet about her views on international events.
But, remarkably, the Queen went on to suggest that the Financial Services Authority may not have been aggressive enough in its policing. She said: âThe Financial Services â what do they call themselves, the regulators â Authority, which was really quite newââŚâit didnât have any teeth.â
Hands-on: The Queen thoroughly inspects the gold vaults during her visit to the Bank of England
Value: The vaults contain thousands of bars of gold worth billions of pounds
The Duke of Edinburgh didnât help matters much, asking: âThereâs not another one coming, is there?
He then fixed Mr Kapadia and his group with a typically gimlet eye and barked: âDonât do it again!â
Afterwards Mr Kapadia was optimistic as he assessed the encounter, saying: âIt was a real pleasure to be able to offer some explanation. I think she recognised that these things are very difficult and itâs not a straightforward exercise.
âThe strongest thing I got [from the Queen] is what are we trying to do so it doesnât happen again.â
The FSA, which is being disbanded after failing to spot the financial crisis which engulfed Britain, later issued a stiff response to the Queenâs remarks.
It said: âWeâve widely acknowledged that the regulatory approach before the financial crisis in 2008 was flawed and has since been completely changed.â
It was the Queenâs ninth visit to the Bank. On her first, as the 11-year-old Princess Elizabeth, she signed a thousand pound note.
Interesting discussion: The Queen was taken with the discussion on how another downturn could be prevented, while the Duke joked with the Bank’s staff
Reason why: The Queen spoke to Sujit Kapadia who explained why the financial crisis wasn’t foreseen
During yesterdayâs visit, she and Prince Philip were each given the honour of each signing a ÂŁ1million banknote, known as a âgiantâ by staff.
As she scribbled her signature next to the 1937 note, she muttered: âIt hasnât improved, really.â
On their tour, the Queen must have been a little over-awed by the ÂŁ27billion worth that glittered in the Bank of Englandâs basement vault.
Visit: A large crowd had gathered outside the Bank as the Royal couple toured inside, which included an inspection of bank notes
Itâs one of nine vaults dotted around London, in which the Bank stores around ÂŁ200billion of gold.
This one contains 63,000 gold bars stacked in eight rows.
Each four-tonne stack is four pallets high, and each pallet carries 80 bars.
While, at 13kg â around 2st â a gold bar is a little heavy to steal, the Duke of Edinburgh did seem tempted by the ÂŁ1million banknote he was asked to sign.
He joked âis this just lying about?â, adding âyou wonât miss it, will you?â.
Signature: The Queen and the Duke each signed a ÂŁ1 million bank note to go into the guest book
Afterwards the Governor of the Bank, Sir Mervyn King, thanked the Queen for her visit, describing the Bankâs staff as âunsung heroesâ who had kept the economy going âin the most difficult circumstancesâ.
And he asked the Queen for two early Christmas presents. One was her signature on the banknote, and the other was the Royal Assent on the Financial Services Bill.
âWhen is the Bill due?â The Queen asked. âIt has gone through Parliament and should be with you before Christmas,â Sir Mervyn replied.
Sweet view: Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall views a gingerbread model village on the Queen Victoria cruise ship at Southampton docks