Prince Philip – Consort, sailor, charity patron, buffoon and god! 100 Prince Philip gaffes.

Everyone knows that HRH Queen Elizabeth II is the Head of State for the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

Less well known is her husband HRH the Duke of Edinburgh or simply Prince Philip as he is known to most people.  Having recently celebrated his 94th birthday, he is the oldest ever male in the British royal family and still a very active one too.

He was born into both the Danish and Greek royal families on 10th June 1921 but his family were soon forced to flee his Greek homeland and by 1939 he found himself serving in the Royal Navy where he saw repeated action in the Mediterranean and later Pacific fleets.

It was in 1939 that he began corresponding with the young Princess Elizabeth who was destined to become Queen and after the war when Philip was given permission to marry her, he was forced to renounce all claims to both the Danish and Greek thrones though like many other European royals, he was descended from Queen Victoria and is currently her oldest surviving Great-Great Grandchild.

The Royal Wedding of Elizabeth and Philip

The Royal Wedding of Elizabeth and Philip

Prince Philip is a keen proponent of environmental affairs and is the patron of over 800 worthy charitable organisations as well as heading the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme which now runs in over 150 skills and aims to instil the virtues of volunteering to individuals or the community, improving physical and sporting prowess, developing practical and social skills as well as the famous planning, training for and completing an expedition.

One of the many roles of the Queen is to be head of the Church of England, a link back to times when the king or queen was assumed to be ruling on earth on behalf of God.  Prince Philip however has gone one better, he is officially a god.  As strange as it may be, the Kastom people of Yaohnanen on the island of Tanna in Vanuatu consider him a divine being.

According to ancient tales, the son of a mountain spirit travelled over the seas to a distant land. There he married a powerful lady and in time would return to them.  When Queen Elizabeth visited the island and the locals saw the respect and honours that were bestowed upon her, they realised that her husband, Prince Philip, must in fact be the fulfilment of the ancient prophecy.

It’s origins are thought to have started back in the 1950’s or 60’s but really took off in 1974 when the royal couple visited the island and the bemused Prince was observed from a distance by some of the villagers.  Later the local British High Commissioner suggested to the prince that he should send an autographed photo to the villagers which apparently went down very well so they sent him one of their traditional pig killing clubs with Prince Philip happily sending them a photo back of him posing with their gift.

Two Yaohnanen Tribesmane proudly show off their photo of the 2007 royal visit with their god, Prince Philip. Photo by Christopher Thompson.

Two Yaohnanen Tribesmane proudly show off their photo of the 2007 royal visit with their god, Prince Philip. Photo by Christopher Thompson.

Of course no-one is perfect, not even a god and despite everything else and performing his constitutional role of consort to the monarch for decades and no doubt opening thens of thousands of hospitals, bridges, schools and the like, it is probably safe to say that he is mostly thought of forces ability to put his foot in his mouth and say the wrong thing which even he acknowledges to have gained him a reputation.

He would say that he is jokey to make people feel at ease and no doubt for him after a life-time of ceremonial duties, make things a bit interesting.  Some of the things he says could be considered rude and even offensive and sometimes it is hard to tell whether it is the mutterings of someone from almost a life-time ago or whether he is forgetful or just mischievous.  Even this morning Prince Philip is in the news for accompanying the Queen to open a Asian Womans Community Centre in east London where he asked them “who they sponged off” and whether they came here just to gossip.

Personally, I and many others find it all quite hilarious and I like it that someone so important just speaks his mind and doesn’t worry about voters or share-holders.  A fine example of this occurred last week at a photo-session with surviving pilots from the Battle of Britain when he told a photographer to get on with taking the photo.  It’s true that no-one else complained of the delays but how long should a 94 year old wait for his photo to be taken as every around him chatters and after no doubt being burdened by his uniform in the summer sun for hours.  We’ve all probably seen relations much younger the Prince Philip get fed up waiting for a photo to be taken.

It’s not hard to find a list of some of the finest pearls of wisdom from Prince Philip.  Whatever the embarrassing situation, Prince Philip has probably been there and done that.  Whether it was leaving his limo in Liverpool and asking whether the wheels will still be on it when he returns, telling President Obama he is too fat to fit in an astronauts suit, admonishing Cambridge professors who corrected him on a technical theory”I didn’t come here to be bloody well lectured by the likes of you.

The following list is mostly taken from the Daily Mirror newspaper.

1 To a tourist in Budapest in 1993: “You can’t have been here long, you haven’t got a pot belly.”

2 To multi-ethnic Britain’s Got Talent 2009 winners Diversity: “Are you all one family?”

3 To President of Nigeria, who was in national dress, 2003: “You look like you’re ready for bed!”

4 To female sea cadet last year: “Do you work in a strip club?”

5 To expats in Abu Dhabi last year: “Are you running away from something?”

6 After accepting a conservation award in Thailand in 1991: “Your country is one of the most notorious centres of trading in endangered species.”

7 At a project to protect turtle doves in Anguilla in 1965, he said: “Cats kill far more birds than men. Why don’t you have a slogan: ‘Kill a cat and save a bird?’”

8 To a car park attendant who didn’t recognise him in 1997, he snapped: “You bloody silly fool!”

9 To Simon Kelner, republican editor of The Independent, at Windsor Castle reception: “What are you doing here?” “I was invited, sir.” Philip: “Well, you didn’t have to come.”

10 His description of Beijing, during a visit there in 1986: “Ghastly.”

11 At Hertfordshire University, 2003: “During the Blitz, a lot of shops had their windows blown in and put up notices saying, ‘More open than usual’. I now declare this place more open than usual.”

12 To deaf children by steel band, 2000: “Deaf? If you’re near there, no wonder you are deaf.”

13 After being told that Madonna was singing the Die Another Day theme in 2002: “Are we going to need ear plugs?”

14 To a British trekker in Papua New Guinea, 1998: “You managed not to get eaten then?”

15 His verdict on Stoke-on-Trent, during a visit in 1997: “Ghastly.”

16 To Atul Patel at reception for influential Indians, 2009: “There’s a lot of your family in tonight.”

17 Peering at a fuse box in a Scottish factory, he said: “It looks as though it was put in by an Indian.” He later backtracked: “I meant to say cowboys.”

18 To Lockerbie residents after plane bombing, 1993: “People say after a fire it’s water damage that’s the worst. We’re still drying out Windsor Castle.”

19 In Canada in 1976: “We don’t come here for our health.”

20 “I never see any home cooking – all I get is fancy stuff.” 1987

21 On the Duke of York’s house, 1986: “It looks like a tart’s bedroom.”

22 Using Hitler’s title to address German chancellor Helmut Kohl in 1997, he called him: “Reichskanzler.”

23 “We go into the red next year… I shall have to give up polo.” 1969.

24 At party in 2004: “Bugger the table plan, give me my dinner!”

25 To a woman solicitor, 1987: “I thought it was against the law for a woman to solicit.”

26 To a civil servant, 1970: “You’re just a silly little Whitehall twit: you don’t trust me and I don’t trust you.”

27 On the 1981 recession: “A few years ago, everybody was saying we must have more leisure, everyone’s working too much. Now everybody’s got more leisure time they’re complaining they’re unemployed. People don’t seem to make up their minds what they want.”

28 On the new £18million British Embassy in Berlin in 2000: “It’s a vast waste of space.”

29 After Dunblane massacre, 1996: “If a cricketer suddenly decided to go into a school and batter a lot of people to death with a cricket bat, are you going to ban cricket bats?”

30 To the Aircraft Research Association in 2002: “If you travel as much as we do, you appreciate the improvements in aircraft design of less noise and more comfort – provided you don’t travel in something called economy class, which sounds ghastly.”

31 On stress counselling for servicemen in 1995: “We didn’t have counsellors rushing around every time somebody let off a gun. You just got on with it!”

32 On Tom Jones, 1969: “It’s difficult to see how it’s possible to become immensely valuable by singing what are the most hideous songs.”

33 To the Scottish WI in 1961: “British women can’t cook.”

34 To then Paraguay dictator General Stroessner: “It’s a pleasure to be in a country that isn’t ruled by its people.”

35 To Cayman Islanders: “Aren’t most of you descended from pirates?”

36 To Scottish driving instructor, 1995: “How do you keep the natives off the booze long enough to pass the test?”

37 At a WF meeting in 1986: “If it has four legs and it’s not a chair, if it’s got two wings and it flies but is not an aeroplane and if it swims and it’s not a submarine, the Cantonese will eat it.”

38 “You ARE a woman, aren’t you?” Kenya, 1984.

39 A VIP at a local airport asked HRH: “What was your flight, like, Your Royal Highness? Philip: “Have you ever flown in a plane?” VIP: “Oh yes, sir, many times.” “Well,” said Philip, “it was just like that.”

40 On Ethiopian art, 1965: “It looks like the kind of thing my daughter would bring back from school art lessons.”

41 To a fashion writer in 1993: “You’re not wearing mink knickers, are you?”

42 To Susan Edwards and her guide dog in 2002: “They have eating dogs for the anorexic now.”

43 When offered wine in Rome in 2000, he snapped: “I don’t care what kind it is, just get me a beer!”

44 “I’d like to go to Russia very much – although the bastards murdered half my family.” 1967.

45 At City Hall in 2002: “If we could just stop the tourism, we could stop the congestion.”

46 On seeing a piezo-meter water gauge in Australia: “A pissometer?”

47“You have mosquitoes. I have the Press.” To matron of Caribbean hospital, 1966.

48 At a Bangladeshi youth club in 2002:“So who’s on drugs here?… HE looks as if he’s on drugs.”

49 To a children’s band in Australia in 2002: “You were playing your instruments? Or do you have tape recorders under your seats?”

50 At Duke of Edinburgh Awards scheme, 2006. “Young people are the same as they always were. Just as ignorant.”

51 On how difficult it is in Britain to get rich: “What about Tom Jones? He’s made a million and he’s a bloody awful singer.”

52 To Elton John on his gold Aston Martin in 2001: “Oh, it’s you that owns that ghastly car, is it?”

53 At an engineering school closed so he could officially open it, 2005: “It doesn’t look like much work goes on at this university.”

54 To Aboriginal leader William Brin, Queensland, 2002: “Do you still throw spears at each other?”

55 At a Scottish fish farm: “Oh! You’re the people ruining the rivers.”

56 After a breakfast of bacon, eggs, smoked salmon, kedgeree, croissants and pain au chocolat – from Gallic chef Regis Crépy, 2002: “The French don’t know how to cook breakfast.”

57 To schoolboy who invited the Queen to Romford, Essex, 2003: “Ah, you’re the one who wrote the letter. So you can write then?”

58 To black politician Lord Taylor of Warwick, 1999: “And what exotic part of the world do you come from?”

59 To parents at a previously struggling Sheffield school, 2003: “Were you here in the bad old days? … That’s why you can’t read and write then!”

60 To Andrew Adams, 13, in 1998: “You could do with losing a little bit of weight.”

61 “Where’s the Southern Comfort?” When presented with a hamper of goods by US ambassador, 1999.

62 To editor of downmarket tabloid: “Where are you from?” “The S*n, sir.” Philip: “Oh, no . . . one can’t tell from the outside.”

63 Turning down food, 2000: “No, I’d probably end up spitting it out over everybody.”

64 Asking Cate Blanchett to fix his DVD player because she worked “in the film industry”, 2008: “There’s a cord sticking out of the back. Might you tell me where it goes?”

65 “People think there’s a rigid class system here, but dukes have even been known to marry chorus girls. Some have even married Americans.” 2000.

66 After hearing President Obama had had breakfast with leaders of the UK, China and Russia, 2010: “Can you tell the difference between them?”

67 On students from Brunei, 1998: “I don’t know how they’re going to integrate in places like Glasgow and Sheffield.”

68 On Princess Anne, 1970: “If it doesn’t fart or eat hay, she isn’t interested.”

69 To wheelchair-bound nursing-home resident, 2002: “Do people trip over you?”

70 Discussing tartan with then-Scottish Tory leader Annabel Goldie last year: “That’s a nice tie… Do you have any knickers in that material?”

71 To a group of industrialists in 1961: “I’ve never been noticeably reticent about talking on subjects about which I know nothing.”

72 On a crocodile he shot in Gambia in 1957: “It’s not a very big one, but at least it’s dead and it took an awful lot of killing!”

73 On being made Chancellor of Edinburgh University in 1953: “Only a Scotsman can really survive a Scottish education.”

74 “I must be the only person in Britain glad to see the back of that plane.” He hated the noise Concorde made flying over Buckingham Palace, 2002.

75 To a fashion designer, 2009: “Well, you didn’t design your beard too well, did you?”

76 To the General Dental Council in 1960: “Dontopedalogy is the science of opening your mouth and putting your foot in it, which I’ve practised for many years.”

77 On stroking a koala in 1992: “Oh no, I might catch some ghastly disease.”

78 On marriage in 1997: “You can take it from me the Queen has the quality of tolerance in abundance.”

79 To schoolchildren in blood-red uniforms, 1998: “It makes you all look like Dracula’s daughters!”

80 “I don’t think a prostitute is more moral than a wife, but they are doing the same thing.” 1988.

81 To female Labour MPs in 2000: “So this is feminist corner then.”

82 On Nottingham Forest trophies in 1999: “I suppose I’d get in trouble if I were to melt them down.”

83 “It’s my custom to say something flattering to begin with so I shall be excused if I put my foot in it later on.” 1956.

84 To a penniless student in 1998: “Why don’t you go and live in a hostel to save cash?”

85 On robots colliding, Science Museum, 2000: “They’re not mating are they?”

86 While stuck in a Heriot Watt University lift in 1958: “This could only happen in a technical college.”

87 To newsreader Michael Buerk, when told he knew about the Duke of Edinburgh’s Gold Awards, 2004: “That’s more than you know about anything else then.”

88 To a British student in China, 1986: “If you stay here much longer, you’ll go home with slitty eyes.”

89 To journalist Caroline Wyatt, who asked if the Queen was enjoying a Paris trip, 2006: “Damn fool question!”

90 On smoke alarms to a woman who lost two sons in a fire, 1998: “They’re a damn nuisance – I’ve got one in my bathroom and every time I run my bath the steam sets it off.”

91 To an attractive blonde well-wisher during a Diamond Jubilee visit with the Queen to Bromley, South London: “I would be arrested if I unzipped that dress.”

92 To a Filipino nurse as he unveiled a new cardiac centre at Luton and Dunstable University Hospital in February: “The Philippines must be half empty, you’re all here running the NHS.”

93 Prince Philip jokingly told a double amputee he should put wheels on his prosthetic limbs to move around quicker. Trooper Cayle Royce, who lost both legs in a bomb blast in Afghanistan, said Philip was “my hero” and “really comedy.”

94 To a group of women at a community centre in Chadwell Heath, east London “who do you sponge off?”

95 During the same visit to the East End, asked a professional fundraiser “do you have any friends left?”

96 To a professional photographer at the RAF club “just take the f****** picture”

97. If it has four legs and is not a chair, has wings and is not an aeroplane, or swims and is not a submarine, the Cantonese will eat it.

I wonder whether anyone else since 1851 has managed to use the word ‘buffoon’ in their blog title?   Have a nice weekend everyone!

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About Stephen Liddell

I am a writer and traveller with a penchant for history and getting off the beaten track. With several books to my name including a #1 seller, I also write environmental, travel and history articles for magazines as well as freelance work. Recently I've appeared on BBC Radio and Bloomberg TV and am waiting on the filming of a ghost story on British TV. I run my own private UK tours company (Ye Olde England Tours) with small, private and totally customisable guided tours run by myself!
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