The anecdote, which featured in the former chancellor’s podcast he co-hosts with Ed Balls, faced an online backlash given the deep funding cuts to health, nurseries and other public services between 2010 and 2015.
On their Political Currency podcast, Osborne told Balls, his Labour opposite number during the austerity years, about how the Queen “directly interfered” with politics.
At a state dinner, Osborne says the late monarch asked him not to close the army’s Highland bagpipe school.
Osborne recalls: “I was like, ‘Of course not, your majesty.’
“So the next day I get into the Treasury, I said: ‘Is there a bagpipe school? And for God’s sake, tell me we’re not closing it down?’
“And the Treasury didn’t know, or my private office didn’t know immediately.
“And they scurried on, they said: ‘Yes, apparently there’s a kind of Highland music school as part of the army bands, and we are making some cuts to those.’
“And I said: ‘Well, we’re not anymore’.”
Osborne continued: “I immediately sent a message back to the palace that she could be reassured that the pipers of the British army would remain well trained.”
The British monarchy is supposed to stay politically neutral, with ruling carried out by the government.
Alongside then prime minister David Cameron, Osborne was the architect of the early 2010s Conservative austerity programme that saw government spending slashed to bring the country’s deficit under control.
The programme was criticised by a UN investigation in 2018 for inflicting “unnecessary misery in one of the richest countries in the world”. Osborne has recently defended the cuts, arguing that they helped Britain to tackle the Covid-19 outbreak.
On X, formerly known as Twitter, Osborne faced criticism for the decision.