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MY PRIVATES CAN'T CONTROL THEMSELVES; Colonel dives for cover after his royal flash.

Byline: ALEXANDRA WILLIAMS

AN Army colonel went to ground yesterday after pictures of him showing too much under his kilt as he sat beside the Queen were flashed around the world.

Simon West, 39, was "embarrassed beyond comprehension" and denied that the cheeky grin on his face proved he knew exactly what he was doing.

But one thing was brought out into the open yesterday - the colonel definitely had not got anything on under his kilt.

Army spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Ed Brown confirmed that Lt Col West was not wearing underpants.

He added: "The accusation he did this on purpose is utterly ridiculous."

As for the jaunty grin, apparently that is how he always smiles.

Yesterday the Sandhurst-trained colonel, who has met the Queen several times before, was nowhere to be seen at his base at Howe Barracks in Canterbury, Kent.

He was said to have left a day early for a two-week training course in Warminster, Wilts.

One soldier said: "There's no way he'd want to be around here today. We all think it's hilarious. The newspapers are selling like hot cakes,"

His father William West, a retired major in the Gordon Highlanders, said: "We are bound by the Official Secrets Act so we can't say what's under the kilt. But my son nearly let the cat out of the bag, so to say. Luckily there was a shadow there. It's all terribly embarrassing. My daughter-in-law phoned. She said he was rather out of sorts."

Lt Col West, who has 600 men under his command, was sitting next to the Queen for an official photograph of the 1st Battalion of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders.

But, unlike his comrades, the father-of-three had not taken the time to adjust his clothing for decency.

His fur sporran was certainly not doing the job of weighing down his blue kilt.

Hundreds of family members were sitting behind the photographer and spotted the colonel's private moment.

Some women chose to avert their gaze, including his wife Annabel.

A colleague at the base said: "When he saw the picture he went bright red. He was covered in confusion. It was an extremely formal occasion.

"I am sure he'll see the funny side one day but at the moment he's not laughing. He's the boss and he knows everyone will be having a jolly good laugh."

Lt Col West followed his father, father-in-law and both grandfathers into the army in 1985.

It is understood the top brass intended to apologise to the Queen for any embarrassment.

But a Buckingham Palace spokesman said: "The Queen would certainly not expect an apology. She would not have been offended. I don't think she even noticed."

CAPTION(S):

HAPPY: With wife Annabel; EYES FRONT: The Queen doesn't seem to notice as Lt Col West reveals just a little too much
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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Nov 11, 2004
Words:471
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