Speaking at a 2008 conference in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, the Duke of York, Prince Andrew, announced openly that “the United Kingdom, Western Europe and by extension you Americans too are now back in the thick of playing the Great Game.”
The revelation, unveiled in a classified but leaked US document by the US Ambassador to Kyrgyzstan, who was present at the time, was followed with an animated declaration that “and this time we aim to win!”
The Great Game refers to a period in history in which the British Empire (and their rivals in Russia) attempted to dominate Central Asia, and included a number of failed British attempts to occupy Afghanistan and the rest of the region.
The US Ambassador is said to have insisted that America doesn’t have imperial designs on the region, a view which the Duke mocked, insisting that Russia, Britain and China were certainly playing it in earnest and ought to be planning to ensure their presence for “centuries.”
The story has been covered in a number of media outlets but mostly centered around the unseemly behavior of the prince, his mocking of the French and rude language (cursing the Guardian newspaper for making it hard to do business in corrupt nations). It seems the determination to plainly state Britain’s imperial ambitions in the regions would be a more serious story, particularly given the Duke’s apparent influence over the high ranking British diplomats present at his tirade.