The Queen Once Hid in a Bush with Her Corgis to Avoid a Controversial Guest at Buckingham Palace

When Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceaușescu visited London in 1978, the Queen didn't care for him and even hid in a bush to avoid him.

13th june 1978 romanian dictator nicolae ceausescu rides in the state carriage with queen elizabeth ii on his official visit to britain photo by central pressgetty images
(Image credit: Central Press)
  • As part of her duties as monarch, Queen Elizabeth II (opens in new tab) is expected to play host to foreign leaders invited to the United Kingdom by the British Government.
  • When Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceaușescu visited London for four days with his wife Elena in 1978, the Queen struggled to maintain her composure.
  • In the new ITV documentary Our Queen: Inside the Crown (opens in new tab), royal insiders revealed that the Queen actually hid in a bush to avoid extra conversation with the dictator during his visit. 

Queen Elizabeth (opens in new tab) has a long reputation of putting duty and country above, well, just about everything (seriously—watch The Crown (opens in new tab) if you weren't aware). As monarch, she's expected to play host to world leaders the British Government invites to visit the country.

Over the years, the British Government has invited some less-than-ideal houseguests who the Queen was then expected to entertain (opens in new tab), including Vladimir Putin, Syrian leader Bashar-Al-Assad, and Zimbabwe dictator Robert Mugabe.

But, according to a new ITV documentary Our Queen: Inside the Crown, which aired in the U.K. on Thursdaythere was one visitor so detestable that even the Queen (opens in new tab) couldn't help but let a not-so-royal moment slip. The guy who earned the title of Queen Elizabeth's Least Favorite Buckingham Palace Guest Ever? Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceaușescu, who visited London for four days with his wife Elena in 1978.

"The press started to question the foreign secretary," Robert Hardman explained in the new documentary. Apparently, people were so upset about the visit, the media went so far as to ask, "Why are we inviting this monster to come to Britain?"

Even though the Queen and her husband, Prince Philip (opens in new tab), went along with their royal duties for the trip and even greeted the Ceaușescus on their arrival at London's Victoria train station, the monarch apparently couldn't stand the idea of talking to the Romanian dictator any more than she absolutely had to. She even resorted to her least-regal moment of all time to avoid extra chit-chat with him at Buckingham Palace.

"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 explained. "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."

It's not clear if Ceaușescu or his wife caught the Queen's blatant smalltalk dodge, but it's officially on the list of the most badass things she's ever done in my book.

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Kayleigh Roberts
Kayleigh Roberts

Kayleigh Roberts is a freelance writer and editor with more than 10 years of professional experience. Her byline has appeared in Marie Claire, Cosmopolitan, ELLE, Harper’s Bazaar, The Atlantic, Allure, Entertainment Weekly, MTV, Bustle, Refinery29, Girls’ Life Magazine, Just Jared, and Tiger Beat, among other publications. She's a graduate of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.