LONDON —Britain’s 90-year-old monarch has made a rare foray into political affairs, being caught on film characterizing Chinese officials as “very rude” in their dealings with British counterparts during a state visit last year.

Queen Elizabeth II made the unguarded comments Tuesday while talking to a senior police officer at a rain-soaked garden party on the grounds of Buckingham Palace.

With uncharacteristic bluntness – rarely if ever heard in public – the queen said the Chinese had not dealt properly with Barbara Woodward, the British envoy to China.

“They were very rude to the ambassador,” Elizabeth said.

The comments were recorded by a palace-authorized cameraman working for three British networks and distributed to broadcasters under a pool arrangement allowing them to use the material. It is not clear if the queen knew she was speaking loudly enough to be easily understood on tape.

As a constitutional monarch, she is prohibited from being actively involved in politics.

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