David Jason has found himself at the mercy of a Twitter mob today after social media users unearthed clips of him sharing an anecdote about the Queen calling a US Ambassador a ‘gorilla’ and wrongly branded him a ‘racist’.
The Only Fools and Horses actor was trending online after footage resurfaced of his appearance on the BBC during commemorations for Her Majesty’s 90th birthday in 2016.
In it, the star said the Monarch had a ‘cheeky’ sense of humour and recounted an incident where she had referred to a US Ambassador as a ‘gorilla’.
While social media users were quick to jump on the comments and brand the 81-year-old a ‘racist’, others argued there were no racial undertones to the comments because the Queen had been referring to a white man.
It is largely understood she had been joking about the US Ambassador to the UK in 1969, Walter Annenberg.
The Queen made Prince Charles laugh by referring to the US Ambassador to the UK as a ‘gorilla’. It’s believed she may have been referring to Walter Annenberg, pictured here in 1969 with his family
Social media users were quick to share their views on the footage of the Only Fools actor
Her Majesty had recounted the anecdote to her son Charles and husband Philip in a 1969 TV documentary called ‘Royal Family’ which aired over two weekends to rave reviews in June 1969.
In it, the Queen makes Prince Philip and Prince Charles roar with laughter as she describes the US Ambassador as a ‘gorilla’.
Giggling over a cup of tea, she says: ‘It’s extremely difficult to keep a straight face when the Home Secretary said to me: ‘There’s a gorilla coming in’.’
In 1969 the US Ambassador to the UK was Walter Annenberg, who was sent to London by Richard Nixon
‘So I said: ‘What an extraordinary remark to make about someone – very unkind’. I stood in the middle of the room and pressed the bell and the doors opened and there was a gorilla.
‘He had a short body and long arms – I had the most appalling trouble [not laughing]’.
The Home Secretary in 1969 was James Callaghan and the US Ambassador to the UK was Walter Annenberg – and while it is largely understood she was talking about those two men, it remains unclear.
It could have been Annenberg’s predecessor David K. E. Bruce, sent to London by John F Kennedy in 1961.
Appearing on the BBC in 2016, David Jason joined a small panel of guests as they celebrated Her Majesty’s 90th birthday.
The actor was asked by host Kirsty Young about the Queen’s sense of humour.
He replied: ‘I remember seeing an off-the-cuff piece of television, where she was talking to family about an Ambassador that came from another country and she said, ‘actually, I thought I was talking to a gorilla’…it was cheeky.’
Kerry-Anne Mendoza, the editor of a hard-left online news website, claimed Jason’s comments were ‘peak English racism’.
She tweeted: ‘They do it right in front of you with a smile on their face, and you’re the a**hole for not joining in.’
Appearing on the BBC in 2016, David Jason joined a small panel of guests as they celebrated Her Majesty’s 90th birthday – but the footage resurfaced and appeared to have been taken out of context today
The Queen had made Prince Philip and Prince Charles roar with laughter as she described the US Ambassador in 1969, as a ‘gorilla’
The Royal Family took part in the 1969 documentary, which was a combined effort between the BBC and ITV, in a bid to show they were just like their subjects.
The idea for the documentary, which aired in June 1969, came from the Palace’s new royal press secretary William Heseltine, who wanted to encourage public support for a monarchy that was increasingly seen as out-of-touch.
The programme was met with praise and proved so popular that it was aired again that same year and once more in 1972.