Wardrobe Malfunction? Queen Elizabeth and the Scottish Soldier

The Story of When a Kilt Revealed Too Much

Queen Elizabeth II
Chris Jackson / Getty Images

Queen Elizabeth visited the 1st Battalion of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders at Howe Barracks in Canterbury, Kent, in November 2004 to present medals to the unit for their recent tour of duty in Iraq.

As the queen posed for a picture with the soldiers, one of the men apparently had a wardrobe malfunction. A viral image circulating since November 2004 shows Queen Elizabeth of England sitting among a band of kilt-wearing Scottish soldiers, one of whom appears to be revealing a wee bit too much of his manhood. This is likely fake.

Photo Analysis of the Queen and Scottish Soldiers

Given that two different versions of this photo exist — one more revealing than the other — it's a fairly safe bet that the image has been manipulated. What we can't determine with any degree of certainty is which of the two may have been the original.

The less revealing version of the photograph first appeared in the London Daily Mail on November 10, 2004, under the headline, "Queen Is Exposed to Colonel's Highland Game." No private parts were visible. The story identified the officer sitting next to the Queen as Colonel Simon West of the 1st Battalion of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders.

Colonel Simon West didn't appear to be taking the occasion too seriously yesterday.
In his cap, jacket and spats, his hands on his knees and his ankles crossed, he sat proudly in the front row of the 1st Battalion of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, next to the Queen.
But unlike his comrades, he hadn't taken the time to adjust his sporran and kilt for decency. So the kilt flapped about for all the world to see. And judging by the grin on his face, the colonel knew exactly what he was doing.
Onlookers said the Queen didn't notice what was happening next to her. But she does not exactly appear comfortable in the photograph.

An article in the next day's edition of The Mirror reported that the "flap" was unintentional and that Colonel West claimed to be "embarrassed beyond comprehension." An army spokesman confirmed West was wearing no underwear when the photograph was taken.

A more explicit version of the image began circulating via email later that same month; timing would suggest that the latter version was the one manipulated, but there seems to be no conclusive evidence either way.