Sunday, 17 October 2010

Prince Philip: Bon Mots

As he approaches his nineties, in some ways the Duke of Edinburgh is doing OK. He's still quite healthy and agile for a man of his advanced years, his eye for the ladies remains active, he continues to blast away for fun at animals and birds.

But sadly, these days Prince Philip seems to speak less in public. Maybe the Queen has finally curbed his propensity for verbal gaffes; at last, perhaps, his aides have reined him in. Throughout his public life Philip's offensive remarks have been portrayed by the obsequious media as 'unfortunate blunders' and 'attempts to reach the ordinary people'. He's provided entertainment for millions, cheered the nation with lofty, thoughtless insults scattered among those obliged to meet him. Here are a few of the Prince's priceless witticisms over the years:
  • He angered deaf people during a visit to the Welsh Assembly. While he was with a group from the British Deaf Association who were standing near a band, he pointed to the musicians and said: "Deaf? If you are near there, no wonder you are deaf."

  • In 1996 he caused an outcry among gun law reformers when he said: "There's no evidence that people who use weapons for sport are any more dangerous than people who use golf clubs or tennis rackets or cricket bats."

  • He told a Briton he met in Hungary during 1993: "You can't have been here that long - you haven't got a pot belly."

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

  • The Prince enraged local people in Lockerbie during a visit to the town in 1993. He said to a man who lived in a road where eleven people had been killed by wreckage from the Pan Am jumbo jet: "People usually say that after a fire it's water damage that's the worst. We are still trying to dry out Windsor Castle."

  • During a Royal visit to China in 1986 he described Peking as "ghastly" and told British students: "If you stay here much longer you'll all be slitty-eyed."

  • He said of Canada: "We don't come here for our health. We can think of other ways of enjoying ourselves."

  • At the height of the recession in 1981 he said: "Everybody was saying we must have more leisure. Now they're complaining they're unemployed."

  • In 1966 he provoked outrage by saying: "British women can't cook."

  • Commenting on stress counselling for servicemen in a TV documentary on the 50th Anniversary of D-Day, he said: "It was part of the fortunes of war. We didn't have counsellors rushing around every time somebody let off a gun, asking `are you all right - are you sure you don't have a ghastly problem?'. You just got on with it."

The Duke of Edinburgh, a Great Use of Public Money: Discuss.

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