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Queen Quizzes Osborne About Sale Of UK Gold

(c) Sky News 2012

It was meant to be a visit without any high politics but the Queen still managed to quiz the Chancellor about British gold as she visited Downing Street.

Walking along the line of ministers in the Terracotta Room inside Number 10 before sitting in on part of a Cabinet meeting , the monarch came to George Osborne.

Until that point, every minister had been introduced by Prime Minister David Cameron but he failed to announce his friend Mr Osborne.

The Queen queried "someone?", to gales of laughter from the assembled politicians, before going on to ask about "gold bars".

Some of her words are indistinct on video footage of the exchange but she can be heard saying "regrettably" in a reference to their sale.

Mr Osborne told the Queen: "Some of them were sold but we still have some left."

Gordon Brown sold more than half of the UK's gold reserves when he was chancellor - a decision that has led to major criticism in recent years as the economy floundered.

Between 1999 and 2002, Mr Brown sold almost 400 tons of the precious metal for up to $296 (£183) an ounce - only to see prices soar to above $1,600 (£986).

Sky's deputy political editor Joey Jones said the comment suggests that the financial management of the UK in the last 15-20 years is on the monarch's mind.

It comes days after she told staff at the Bank of England that people "had got a bit lax" during the financial crisis sparked in 2008.

Four years ago, she famously asked: "Why did nobody notice it?" - expressing the astonishment shared by many that the crash was not foreseen.

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