Foreign secretary Boris Johnson has been caught on camera part-reciting a colonial poem in a Burmese temple before being stopped by an ambassador.
Johnson began quoting the opening lines of Mandalay during a visit to the Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon, the capital of Burma, the Press Association reported.
The poem by Rudyard Kipling is written through the eyes of a retired British serviceman in Burma, also known as Myanmar, which Britain colonised for more than a century.
The Guardian, reporting on the footage due to be broadcast by Channel 4, said the British ambassador Andrew Patrick stopped Mr Johnson mid-flow, and before he recited the line “Bloomin’ idol made o’ mud/ Wot they called the Great Gawd Budd” – a reference to Buddha.
Patrick is reported to have told Johnson: “You’re on mic. Probably not a good idea”, to which the Uxbridge MP said: “What, The Road to Mandalay?”
The ambassador replied: “No. Not appropriate.”
Reports of the incident have prompted a wave of criticism online...
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office declined to comment.
Boris Johnson: Blond Ambition is on Channel 4, this Sunday at 10.05pm