UK PM Flunks History Questions on Letterman

Worries that David Cameron, the first sitting UK Prime Minister to appear on the ”Late Show with David Letterman”, would embarrass himself were realized when he incorrectly answered key British history questions.

David Cameron
Getty Images
David Cameron

Visiting New York for the opening of the United Nations General Assembly, Cameron requested a slot on the popular chat show to capitalize on Britain’s renewed international popularity, following the Queen’s high-profile Jubilee celebration and the phenomenally-successful Olympic and Paralympic games.

The legendary host grilled Cameron from the outset, asking him to name the composer of “Rule Britannia”, which played as he entered the studio.

Cameron incorrectly answered Elgar (Thomas Arne composed the iconic piece), before failing to provide a literal translation of the Magna Carta.

Cameron said “This is bad, I have ended my career on your show tonight”.

He looked uncomfortable throughout the interview, meekly responding “you are testing me,” when confronted with questions.

But he inadvertently provided a laugh for the live audience when Letterman told the Prime Minster that “it would be good if you knew this”.

Cameron cannot blame a poor education for the gaps in his knowledge. He attended the world-famous Eton College, the school of choice for the privileged classes including royalty, where fees run to $50,000 (£32,000 pounds) per year. He went on to study at Oxford University.

He also talked about the success of the Olympic Games and the “right” decision that Britain had made in not adopting the euro.

The economy would be in much worse shape had the U.K. joined the common currency, he insisted.

“We are not in the euro, and we won’t be joining the euro. We’ll keep the pound.”

The PM regained some credibility when he spoke about the makeup of the UK and the historical significance of Northern Ireland.

Cameron remained uncomfortable throughout the interview, nervously answering in response to “Are you doing well, are you popular?” by Letterman, “No, we’re not very popular at the moment,” he sputtered.

By CNBC's Shai Ahmed, follow her on Twitter @shaicnbc