Queen jokes with 'fat' England rugby stars about fitness levels

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The Queen has joked with two of England's rugby stars about the fitness levels of the UK's players as she celebrated the achievements of the Commonwealth.

Brothers Billy and Mako Vunipola, who have Tongan heritage but were brought up in the UK, laughed when they said the Queen questioned the widely held view that today's rugby sportsmen were tougher and fitter.

The Queen speaks to Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, left (Jonathan Brady/PA)
The Queen speaks to Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, left (Jonathan Brady/PA)

The monarch was hosting a Buckingham Palace reception for the Commonwealth diaspora in the UK and was joined at the event by the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall.

The Prince of Wales meets rugby players Mako and Billy Vunipola (Jonathan Brady/PA)
The Prince of Wales meets rugby players Mako and Billy Vunipola (Jonathan Brady/PA)

Prime Minister Theresa May and husband Philip made a surprise appearance as did Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson who earlier in the day had given a major speech on Brexit. 

Mako, who was part of the England team that beat Wales at the weekend in a Six Nations match, said: "She was saying that apparently rugby is getting a lot tougher now, everyone's fitter but she can't see it.

The Queen greets Prime Minister Theresa May (Jonathan Brady/PA)
The Queen greets Prime Minister Theresa May (Jonathan Brady/PA)

His brother quipped: "I think she was calling us fat - which is fair enough."

The event heralded the start of a series of major Commonwealth events this year culminating in a heads of government meeting for global leaders in London this April.

Billy, who has missed out on Six Nations rugby due to a broken forearm, said: "It's a massive honour that we are here and a privilege, something we will probably brag to our mum about."