Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has come under fire both domestically and in the UK after pictures surfaced online showing him loudly singing the Queen’s song “Bohemian Rhapsody” on a piano in a London hotel. The photos were taken two days before Queen Elizabeth’s funeral, when the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth – of which Canada is a part – were still in mourning.
Daily Mail, The Globe and Mail, CBC, Twitter
Trudeau, 50, like many world leaders, traveled to the UK last week to meet his new monarch, King Charles III, and to pay his respects to the late Queen Elizabeth II, whom he previously described as “one of my favorite people in the world”.
However, that didn’t stop him from letting him go on Saturday evening, two days before the Queen’s funeral, at a moment many Canadians and Brits consider inappropriate. Dressed in a purple shirt, the Prime Minister sang alongside Queens’ monster song “Bohemian Rhapsody” in the lobby of London’s Corinthia Hotel, while accompanied by famous Canadian pianist Gregory Charles on the keys. Singalong, who also includes other members of Trudeau’s delegation, was confirmed by Trudeau’s office after photos of her started circulating on social media.
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Trudeau’s critics and opponents of the prime minister called the moment of relaxation an “embarrassing and deafening” false note. The text “Come with ease” is in particular considered offensive in light of the recent death of Queen Elizabeth II.
Pianist Gregory Charles, who was part of the Canadian delegation as an Officer of the Order of Canada and was also present at Queen Elizabeth’s funeral, sees it differently. And he confirms to the Canadian newspaper, the Globe and Mail, that he sat at the piano late on Saturday evening in the lobby of the Canadian delegation hotel and welcomed the hotel’s guests, including Prime Minister Trudeau, with playing. “Everyone sang with me for about two hours. We had so much fun,” says the pianist, who said the event reminded him of Caribbean funerals, which also alternate with festive moments with moments when the dead are celebrated and stories are exchanged.
Nor does political science professor Jonathan Malloy of Canada’s Carleton University see any flaws in the prime minister’s “action”. In an email to Canada’s CBC, he wrote: “The prime minister doesn’t have to spend ten days of mourning for the Queen. Funerals and vigils often contain moments of camaraderie and joy and it’s no different here.) Some relaxation.”
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