Queen Elizabeth was overheard apparently mocking Prime Minister Gordon Brown after he seemed to get lost during a state banquet.

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The queen – who hosted the dinner at her royal Berkshire residence, Windsor Castle, to celebrate the state visit of new French President Nicolas Sarkozy and his wife Carla – saw Brown walking the wrong way round the banqueting table on Wednesday night (26.03.08), much to her amusement.

Witnesses say she then leant across the table, laughed, and said to her daughter Princess Anne: “The Prime Minister got lost. He disappeared the wrong way… at the crucial moment.”

Her comments were picked up by the microphones placed on the table for the speeches.

One guest said: “He thought he was supposed to be in line for the greeting, but he should have been sitting down like the rest of us. When he discovered his mistake, he had to walk the long way round the table.”

However, Brown’s official spokesman blamed the palace’s staff for getting the protocol wrong. He said: “He does what he is told on these state occasions. I don’t think this is something that is troubling him very much.”

A spokesperson for the palace said: “If anything happened, we’re not aware of it.”

There were 160 guests at the banquet, including 12 members of the British Royal Family.