Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn missed a chance to be inducted into the Privy Council by the Queen because he was walking in the Scottish Highlands, it has been revealed.
The veteran left-winger was accused of snubbing the monarch this week when he did not turn up to a meeting where she was swearing in other new members.
Aides pointed out that other senior politicians - including David Cameron - had previously waited several months between being invited to join the council and being formally inducted.
Mr Corbyn was said by aides to have had "long-standing private engagements" and needed some "relaxation time".
According to the Sunday Times, the Opposition leader was in fact enjoying a soft drink and a dinner of fish and chips at the Ben Nevis bar and restaurant in Fort William.
Mr Corbyn dropped in on the pub while on a walking holiday accompanied by a "dark-haired woman", believed to be his Mexican wife, Laura Alvarez.
He also posed for a picture outside the Tavern restaurant in the town with its owner, John MacLennan.
Mr MacLennan posted the image on Facebook with the caption: "'Can I have my steak well done, please?' No problem Jeremy, we will get the chef to nuke it for you!" -- a reference to Mr Corbyn's well-known opposition to renewing Trident.
The restaurant owner said the MP had taken a look at the menu and posed for pictures on Tuesday but not gone inside.
"He was very pleasant, an absolutely pleasant man -- not my politics, I'm completely the opposite spectrum, you know -- but very pleasant, nice guy," Mr MacLennan said.
Labour backbencher Simon Danczuk told the newspaper: "Jeremy has led the party off into the wilderness and then taken a hike in the Highlands.
"It is not so much that he has missed the meeting with the Queen, but that he's let this story run and run, which means we haven't had a chance to get our message out there."