Australian news presenter speaks out after mistaking Liz Truss for 'minor royal'

Liz Truss arriving at the Queen's funeral on Monday in Westminster Abbey. Credit: PA

An Australian journalist has defended himself after failing to recognise UK prime minister Liz Truss while covering the Queen's funeral.

Channel 9 presenters Peter Overton and Tracy Grimshaw were commenting on yesterday's ceremony at Westminster Abbey when they became the centre of an embarrassing gaffe.

They said they were having difficulty identifying everyone making their way into the central London church, with Mr Overton suggesting Ms Truss could have been a "minor royal".

Britain's new prime minister has only been in the job for two weeks, having met the Queen to form a new government just two days before the 96-year-old monarch died.

Nonetheless, the pair were ridiculed over social media, with people describing the blunder as "embarrassing" and accusing the presenters of not "doing their homework".

But Mr Overton has since spoken out, blaming technical issues for the mistake and insisting he definitely would recognise the prime minister otherwise.

He tweeted: "We were relying on a video feed for live stream of arrivals. At times the video would freeze so we’d turn around to try to catch a glimpse. I do know what British PM, Liz Truss looks like. The back of her hat, not so much!"

Speaking to Australian talk radio station 2GB, the news anchor joked: “I’ve upset a couple of my Pommy cousins. “We were told there was another motorcade arriving, and lost our monitor with the broadcast feed.”

He said he and Ms Grimshaw were confined to media platforms with 20 to 30 other international journalists, some 50 metres from where guests were arriving for the funeral.

“With our monitor frozen, we turned around and tried to see who was getting out of the car. We kept looking back to the monitor and couldn’t see,” Mr Overton added. “It is very hard to recognise someone from the back of their hat, from 50 metres. So there’s some context for it.” Also sticking up for Mr Overton was his wife, Jessica Rowe, who wrote on Instagram: "Beyond proud of my darling husband & the Nine news team for their coverage of the Queen’s funeral. Come home Petee - the girls, the pussycats, Daphne and I miss you!"

The 52-year-old TV personality added: "And he knows exactly who Liz Truss is… they were relying on video from the internet for live stream of arrivals.

The remarkable life of the Queen remembered in our latest episode of What You Need To Know.

"And sometimes the feed would freeze or drop out. So they’d turn around to try to see who was arriving. All they could see what the backs of people. It’s impossible to identify anyone from the back of their hat!"

Moments after making his mistake during Chanel 9's broadcast, Mr Overton issued a correction.

He told viewers: "I'm told that was Liz Truss the new prime minister in the distance, that we could see hopping out of that car. Thank you very much for that information."