IRAN last night offered to perform Sir Salman Rushdie's forthcoming knighthood ceremony saying recent television footage suggested the Queen was no longer "up to the job".
Mohammad Al Inseini, a spokesman for the Iranian government, said the Queen had taken up to three goes with her sword during recent ceremonies – and still failed to even draw blood.
He described the scenes as "shocking and barbaric" and said Iran had a number of well-trained professionals who could deal with the Satanic Verses author "in a oner".
Mr Al Inseini said: "Your Queen is a fine old lady who knows how to strangle a pheasant. There is no shame in her passing the sword to a younger man."
He said the Iranian government would happily supply its own top ceremonial swordsman, Al-Bert Pierrepoint, for the occasion.
"We promise you that with Al-Bert in charge Rushdie's knighthood will be conferred upon him swiftly and humanely," he said.
Mr Inseini said Iran would welcome the author to Tehran for a mass outdoor ceremony, but could also send its sword specialist to Buckingham Palace if that was easier.
Ejit Ul-Haq, editor of the Islamabad-based magazine Executions and Executioners, said that Pierrepoint was one of Iran’s top swordsmen with a good eye, a firm grip, and a sharp blade.
"Al-Bert knows exactly what to do when someone kneels before him, and is very used to performing in front of crowds," he said. "He also has a huge chopper."