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This Restaurant’s Smoking Area Got Accused of Disrespecting the Queen

A Scottish city councillor has criticised a London restaurant for not showing appropriate reverence for the Queen, due to the placement of its smoking area.
Phoebe Hurst
London, GB
September 17, 2015, 12:00pm
Photo via Flickr user Maritè Toledo

Cigarettes are very, very bad and blowing heart-shaped smoke rings is not big or clever, but a lot of shit does seem to go down in the smoking area on your average night out.

"Got a lighter, mate?" becomes the preamble to 40-minute oh-my-God-Adore-Delano-is-my-favourite-queen-too conversations. Lifelong bonds are forged over the lols that come from being penned into a 4-foot-square patch of concrete with 15 other tipsy nicotine fiends and its tobacco-y air has shrouded a multitude of ill-advised snogs. (Shout out to the other times, though, when it's just really cold and you wish you weren't the only one of your friends still dropping 30 quid a week on "cancer sticks.")

But among the vast array of sins committed within restaurant and bar smoking areas, disrespecting the monarchy isn't usually one of them.

READ MORE: Someone Just Paid £500 for a Slice of the Queen's 68-Year-Old Wedding Cake

That was until this week, when a London restaurant was criticised for not showing appropriate levels of reverence for the Queen.

Hakkasan, a Michelin-starred Cantonese restaurant in Mayfair stands on the site of the building in which the Queen was born.

The house lived in by the Queen Mother's parents, where Elizabeth II was born in 1926, was destroyed during the blitz, with the restaurant now standing in its place. One of its exterior walls bears a plaque reading: "On this site at 17 Bruton Street stood the townhouse of the Earl of Strathmore and Kinghorne where Elizabeth Alexandra Mary Windsor, later to become Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, was born on 21 April 1926," and another commemorating the Silver Jubilee.

But on a recent visit to London, Aberdeen city councillor Martin Greig was shocked to find a space heater, a cigarette bin, and the obligatory huddle of smokers standing on the historic site.

queen-plaque-disrespect

He told the Mirror Online: "I was very sorry to see people smoking under the plaques. It was disrespectful. It was a very poor place to put a smoking shelter. It is a very significant place and should be treated with more dignity."

To be fair to Hakkasan, that's a pretty decent outdoor heater. The smokers may have been engaging in borderline treason but at least they weren't freezing their hands off while doing so.

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This doesn't seem to placate Greig though, who added that the site is an "important piece of our living history given that the Queen has just celebrated being the longest reigning monarch in the UK" and that in "other countries the birthplace of their leader would be treated with dignity, perhaps even being a museum."

Yes. We should totally be following the lead of those other countries and their leader-dedicated museums.

Hakkasan has now moved the smoking area and issued a statement saying: "Hakkasan strives to ensure all guests are happy with its consistently high levels of service and hospitality and welcomes all feedback."

Here's hoping no one tells Greig about the "Save the Queen" drinking game.