On the doors being thrown open for him to enter for his audience with the Queen, equerries were surprised when the Prime Minister turned round and walked in backwards.
Number ten later confirmed that he had confused his recollection of Tony Blair in the film The Queen, with his determination that 'centuries of useless tradition' would be swept away.
When eventually he bumped into her, Her Majesty with her usual equanimity said: 'Welcome Prime Minister, I have been waiting three years for you to arrive like this.'
'I want a dissolution,' he said at which Her Majesty stifled a smile, and recovered herself to say: 'What a novelty it will be for you to fight an election as Prime Minster. Do sit down and have some coffee'
The audience continued for a further twenty minutes while Brown tried to remember which way to walk out. Her Majesty eventually took his arm and helped him to the door.
The Queen is reported to have rescued a lame duck on the Sandringham estate over Christmas.