A spokesperson for Justin Trudeau has defended the Canadian prime minister over a leaked video that showed him singing Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody in a London hotel lobby two days before Queen Elizabeth’s funeral.
The 14-second video clip, viewed more than 1.5m times, shows Trudeau in a T-shirt leaning against a piano at the Corinthia hotel and joining others in a rendition of one of the rock band Queen’s most famous songs.
Trudeau can be heard singing “Easy come, easy go, little high, little low” and “Any way the wind blows” alongside acclaimed Canadian pianist Gregory Charles.
The footage initially sparked heated debate over its authenticity, but Trudeau’s team later acknowledged that the mobile phone video was real.
“After dinner on Saturday, [the] prime minister joined a small gathering with members of the Canadian delegation, who have come together to pay tribute to the life and service of Her Majesty,” said a spokesperson for the prime minister, adding that Trudeau had “taken part in various activities” to pay respect to Elizabeth II while in London.
The spokesperson said Charles, a recipient of the Order of Canada, played a number of songs on the piano, “which resulted in some members of the delegation, including the prime minister, joining”.
Charles later told the Globe and Mail newspaper that the evening reminded him of Caribbean funerals, which blend sombre moments with levity and celebration.
“Everyone sang with me for two hours,” he said. “That was the feeling, that was a lot of fun.”
At home, the prime minister was sharply criticised by some political commentators for a breach of decorum.
“Embarrassing doesn’t even begin to describe it. Yes, people sometimes need to let off steam. No, there’s no evidence he was drunk,” Andrew Coyne, a columnist with the Globe and Mail, wrote on Twitter. “But come on – he’s the Prime Minister, in a public place, on the eve of the Queen’s funeral. And this is how he behaves?”
Others said the fuss was akin to a manufactured controversy.
Political commentator David Moscrop tweeted: “*asteroid hurtles towards earth, leaving humankind with months to live. Only a last ditch collective effort will save the planet – and the species* Canada Twitter: let’s do a forensic analysis of when precisely the prime minister sang a janky rendition of Bohemian Rhapsody.”
Lawyer and author Mark Bourrie wrote that he wanted others to “sing as much as you like in the days leading up to my funeral”.
“Sea shanties, dirty songs we sang together as kids, tunes we blasted at 10 on the stereo, songs from records we picked out together, songs we heard together at concerts, he tweeted. “Celebrate life.”
Trudeau, who attended the state funeral alongside members of the Canadian delegation, has previously said the Queen, who he met on a number of occasions, was “one of my favourite people in the world”.