David Cameron asked the Queen to intervene to try and ensure Scotland did not vote for independence in 2014.
The former prime minister asked the Queen’s staff for a “raising of the eyebrow” because the government thought it would “make a difference” in the independence referendum.
Soon after, the Queen told a well-wisher Aberdeenshire that she hoped “people would think very carefully about the future”, in remarks welcomed by No campaigners.
Days later Scotland voted to stay in the United Kingdom by a 55% to 45% margin.
Cameron said he was conscious that the Queen must be politically neutral when he made the request.
But independence supporters are likely to be furious at the revelation that the monarch apparently intervened in politics.
The ex-PM told BBC documentary The Cameron Years that he was in Scotland staying at the Queen’s residence at Balmoral when a newspaper poll came out putting the Yes campaign ahead for the first time.
Cameron described how it hit him “like a blow to the solar plexus” and led to a “mounting sense of panic that this could go the wrong way”.
He went on: “I remember conversations I had with my private secretary and he had with the Queen’s private secretary and I had with the Queen’s private secretary, not asking for anything that would be in any way improper or unconstitutional but just a raising of the eyebrow even you know, a quarter of an inch, we thought would make a difference.”
Cameron also appeared to admit the remark made a difference to the campaign.
“It was certainly well covered (by the media) although the words were very limited, I think it helped to put a slightly different perception on things,” he said.
Cameron was infamously caught in the aftermath of the referendum vote saying the Queen “purred down the line” of the phone when he told her the result had gone in favour of the union.
In a separate interview with LBC’s Nick Ferrari, he revealed he was “so embarrassed” at the hot mic comments, and apologised “in full” and “unreservedly” to the Queen.
“I was genuinely sorry,” Cameron said.
“It was (one of his worst moments as PM), I think when you realise you’ve done something and you know you’ve really messed up and… I couldn’t wait to apologise. I was just so anxious to get in there and say, I’m so sorry, I should never have said this, it’s so embarrassing and all the rest of it.”
‘Death knows no privilege’ - Cameron hits back at Guardian editorial
The former PM hit back at a Guardian editorial which suggested his grief when his son died was “privileged pain” because of his upbringing.
The article was written in response to the publishing of the former PM’s memoirs in which he praises the NHS for taking care of Ivan who died at the age of six in 2009.
Cameron told LBC: “Look, there is no privilege in holding your eldest born child in your arms as their life drains away. Death knows no privilege. So I, from the little I saw it, I couldn’t understand what they were trying to say, but fortunately it has been deleted and apologised for, so I think we can leave it there.”
‘I felt a lot of sympathy for Boris’ - Cameron on Brexit talks
Cameron also revealed he felt sorry for Boris Johnson when he was ‘empty podiumed’ by Luxembourg PM Xavier Bettel following Brexit talks this week.
The current prime minister had asked Luxembourg to move the press conference inside to avoid a crowd of shouting and chanting anti-Brexit protesters but the request was refused as officials said there would not be enough space for the media.
“I felt a lot of sympathy for Boris because it is difficult carrying out a press conference when there’s loads of shouting going on. It doesn’t really serve any purpose. I felt frustrated for him because I know Xavier Bettel quite well.
“He always used to joke that we were twins, because we looked quite alike and we both struggle with our weight, so he always used to come up to me and pat my tummy and say, how’s it going, you know I’ve lost two kilos, how you getting on? He’s got a beard now.”
Cameron is scathing about Johnson and Michael Gove in his upcoming memoirs.
But he also revealed that he wants to try and rekindle his friendship with Gove, which was shattered when the minister in 2016 decided to campaign for Leave against his then-boss’s wishes.
“I want to try,” Cameron said. “He (Gove) was so central to my thinking on education reform and other things, and so watching what happened next was very painful and I did in some ways think he’d become quite a different person in all of it. But as I say, life goes on.”
Former chancellor George Osborne meanwhile apologised for being a senior member of the Cameron government that called the 2016 EU referendum.
He told the BBC documentary: “I feel very sorry for what happened, and I feel responsible, I was the chancellor of the exchequer in that government.
“We held a referendum we should never have held, we then lost that referendum and the consequences for the country are grave.
“And the only thing I can plea in my mitigation is that a huge number of people wanted that referendum, and I made a case against it, but it wasn’t heard.”
‘Someone shouted a pig-based remark’
Cameron revealed he still gets abuse over “pig-gate” but that his son Elwen, 13, is a “sweet boy” who tries to perk him up.
The infamous embarrassment blew up in 2015 following the publication of extracts from the book of a shunned Tory peer.
Lord Michael Ashcroft wrote in his book, ‘Call Me Dave’, that while Cameron was at Oxford University, he took part in a bizarre initiation ceremony which saw him “put a private part of his anatomy” into a dead pig’s mouth.
Cameron said: “I was walking along the street with Elwen, my son, the other day and someone shouted a pig-based remark, if I can put it that way. Elwen is a sweet boy and people up until then had been saying some friendly things and he turned to me and said, ‘Don’t worry, Dad. On the whole people have been pretty friendly today.’”