Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 2 September 2014

Prince Philip: A history of verbal gaffes

In his time the Duke of Edinburgh has described the Chinese as " slitty-eyed", and the Hungarians as " pot-bellied".

In 1969 the duke was said to have annoyed Tom Jones after the Royal Variety Performance by asking: "What do you gargle with, pebbles?" He added the following day: "It is very difficult at all to see how it is possible to become immensely valuable by singing what I think are the most hideous songs."

At a WWF meeting in 1986 (he was international president), he said: "If it has got four legs and it's not a chair... the Cantonese will eat it."

In 1995, he asked a Scottish driving instructor: "How do you keep the natives off the booze long enough to pass the test?"

After the Dunblane massacre in 1996 he declared a member of a shooting club was no more potentially dangerous than a cricketer, and also wondered why the unemployed cannot make up their mind whether they want more leisure time or not.

He also upset residents of Lockerbie when on a visit to the town in 1993, he said to a man who lived in a road where 11 people had been killed by wreckage from the Pan Am jumbo jet: "People usually say that after a fire it is water damage that is the worst. We are still trying to dry out Windsor Castle."

On a visit to China in 1986 he told British students: "If you stay here much longer you'll all be slitty-eyed."

In 1999, he angered deaf people with a comment about a Caribbean music band. During a visit to the Welsh Assembly, the Duke met a group from the British Deaf Association, pointed to the musicians, and said: "Deaf? If you are near there, no wonder you are deaf."

In 2002 he asked an Australian Aborigine if he was "Still throwing spears?"

Long line of princely blunders

"British women can't cook." - 1966

"The bastards murdered half my family." ­ Response when asked whether he would approve of a visit to the Soviet Union, 1967.

"Everybody was saying we must have more leisure. Now theyare complaining they are unemployed." ­ Comment made during the depths of the recession, 1981.

"You are a woman, aren't you?" ­ While accepting a gift from a Kenyan woman, 1984.

"If you stay here much longer you'll all be slitty-eyed." ­ When meeting a group of British students during a state visit to China, 1986.

"You can't have been here that long - you haven't got a pot belly". - Comments to a Briton the Prince met in Hungary in 1993

"Aren't most of you descended from pirates?" To an islander in the Cayman Islands in 1994

"How do you keep the natives off the booze long enough to get them through the test?" ­ To a driving instructor in Oban, Scotland, during a royal walkabout, 1995.

"Are you Indian or Pakistani? I can never tell the difference between you chaps." The Prince at Washington Embassy reception for Commonwealth members

"You look as if you're ready for bed." - The Prince greets the Nigerian secretary-general of the Commonwealth, who was dressed up in ceremonial robes

"Well, you'll never fly in it, you're too fat to be an astronaut." - Comment to a 13-year-old boy after his dreams of space exploration are dashed.

"You managed not to get eaten then?" ­ To a student who had been trekking in Papua New Guinea, 1998.

"If it has got four legs and it is not a chair, if it has got two wings and it flies but is not an aeroplane, and if it swims and it is not a submarine, the Cantonese will eat it." - Comment at a 1986 World Wildlife Fund meeting

"Do you know they're now producing eating dogs for anorexics?" - Comment to a blind woman with a guide dog.

"It looks as though it was put in by an Indian." ­ On seeing a fuse box at a factory in Edinburgh, 1999.

"It's a pleasure to be in a country that isn't ruled by its people." -- Comment to Paraguayan dictator Alfredo Stroessner

"You could smuggle a bottle of gin out of the country in that artificial foot." To disabled comedian Adam Hills who has a prosthetic limb in December 2009

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