Wikileaks Cablegate on HRH Prince Andrew

According to a dispatch in the Cablegate Wikileaks treasure trove, American Ambassador to Kyrgyzstan Tatiana Gfoeller attended a two-hour brunch to brief HRH Prince Andrew Duke of York ahead of his meetings with the Kyrgyz Prime Minister. Much of the banter is actually quite amusing and a rare peek into the attitudes of the British royal family.

2. (C) British Ambassador to the Kyrgyz Republic Paul Brummell invited the Ambassador to participate in briefing His Royal Highness Prince Andrew, the Duke of York, ahead of his October 28 meetings with Kyrgyz Prime Minister Igor Chudinov and other high-level officials. The Prince was in Kyrgyzstan to promote British economic interests. Originally scheduled to last an hour over brunch, the briefing ended up lasting two hours, thanks to the super-engaged Prince’s pointed questions. The Ambassador was the only participant who was not a British subject or linked to the Commonwealth. The absence of her French and German colleagues was notable; they were apparently not invited despite being fellow members of the European Union. Others included major British investors in Kyrgyzstan and the Canadian operator of the Kumtor mine.

“ALL OF THIS SOUNDS EXACTLY LIKE FRANCE”
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¶5. (C) After having half-heartedly danced around the topic for a bit, only mentioning “personal interests” in pointed fashion, the business representatives then plunged into describing what they see as the appallingly high state of corruption in the Kyrgyz economy. While claiming that all of them never participated in it and never gave out bribes, one representative of a middle-sized company stated that “It is sometimes an awful temptation.” In an astonishing display of candor in a public hotel where the brunch was taking place, all of the businessmen then chorused that nothing gets done in Kyrgyzstan if President Bakiyev’s son Maxim does not get “his cut.” Prince Andrew took up the topic with gusto, saying that he keeps hearing Maxim’s name “over and over again” whenever he discusses doing business in this country. Emboldened, one businessman said that doing business here is “like doing business in the Yukon” in the nineteenth century, i.e. only those willing to participate in local corrupt practices are able to make any money. His colleagues all heartily agreed, with one pointing out that “nothing ever changes here. Before all you heard was Akayev’s son’s name. Now it’s Bakiyev’s son’s name.” At this point the Duke of York laughed uproariously, saying that: “All of this sounds exactly like France.”

RUDE LANGUAGE A LA BRITISH
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¶13. (C) The brunch had already lasted almost twice its allotted time, but the Prince looked like he was just getting started. Having exhausted the topic of Kyrgyzstan, he turned to the general issue of promoting British economic interests abroad. He railed at British anti-corruption investigators, who had had the “idiocy” of almost scuttling the Al-Yamama deal with Saudi Arabia. (NOTE: The Duke was referencing an investigation, subsequently closed, into alleged kickbacks a senior Saudi royal had received in exchange for the multi-year, lucrative BAE Systems contract to provide equipment and training to Saudi security forces. END NOTE.) His mother’s subjects seated around the table roared their approval. He then went on to “these (expletive) journalists, especially from the National Guardian, who poke their noses everywhere” and (presumably) make it harder for British businessmen to do business. The crowd practically clapped. He then capped this off with a zinger: castigating “our stupid (sic) British and American governments which plan at best for ten years whereas people in this part of the world plan for centuries.” There were calls of “hear, hear” in the private brunch hall. Unfortunately for the assembled British subjects, their cherished Prince was now late to the Prime Minister’s. He regretfully tore himself away from them and they from him. On the way out, one of them confided to the Ambassador: “What a wonderful representative for the British people! We could not be prouder of our royal family!”

¶14. (C) COMMENT: Prince Andrew reached out to the Ambassador with cordiality and respect, evidently valuing her insights. However, he reacted with almost neuralgic patriotism whenever any comparison between the United States and United Kingdom came up. For example, one British businessman noted that despite the “overwhelming might of the American economy compared to ours” the amount of American and British investment in Kyrgyzstan was similar. Snapped the Duke: “No surprise there. The Americans don’t understand geography. Never have. In the U.K., we have the best geography teachers in the world!” END COMMENT.

cablegate.wikileaks.org