Sunday 25 February 2018

Prince Philip at 90: A lifetime of non PC gaffes

Laura Roberts

While on an official visit to China in 1986 he told a group of British exchange students staying in the city of Xian: "If you stay here much longer you’ll all be slitty-eyed."

However, during a documentary to mark his 90th birthday on June 10, Queen Elizabeth's husband the Duke of Edinburgh still claims the resulting outcry was disproportionate.

He said: “I'd forgotten about it. But for one particular reporter who overheard it, it wouldn’t have come out. What’s more, the Chinese weren’t worried about it, so why should anyone else?”

The Duke has become renowned over the years for his risque comments.

Speaking to a driving instructor in Oban, Scotland, in 1995 he asked: "How do you keep the natives off the booze long enough to get them through the test?"

He told a 1986 meeting of the World Wildlife Fund: "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."

The Duke will turn 90 on June 10 but Buckingham Palace has confirmed that he will not take the day off and instead carry out two official engagements that day.

The official celebration of his birthday has been put back to June 12, when the Queen and other members of the Royal family will attend a service at St George's Chapel, Windsor, followed by a reception at Windsor Castle.

Buckingham Palace has published a list of 90 facts about the Duke to mark his birthday, including his record as the longest-serving consort of any monarch.

During the 1981 recession he mused: “Everybody was saying we must have more leisure. Now they are complaining they are unemployed."

When accepting a figurine from a woman during a visit to Kenya in 1984 he asked: "You are a woman aren't you?"

The Duke asked a British student who had been trekking in Papua New Guinea in 1998: "You managed not to get eaten then?"

To a British tourist in Hungary in 1993 he quipped: "You can't have been here that long — you haven't got a pot belly."

"Aren't most of you descended from pirates?", he asked an islander in the Cayman Islands in 1994.

Following the 1996 Dunblane massacre, he questioned the need for a firearms ban: "If a cricketer, for instance, suddenly decided to go into a school and batter a lot of people to death with a cricket bat, which he could do very easily, I mean, are you going to ban cricket bats?"

In 1999 in Cardiff he told children from the British Deaf Association, who were standing by a Caribbean steel band: "If you're near that music it's no wonder you're deaf".

While touring a factory near Edinburgh in 2002 he said a fuse box was so crude it "looked as though it had been put in by an Indian".

To Australian Aborigines during a visit to Australia in 2002 he asked: "Do you still throw spears at each other?"

In 2010 on asking a female Sea Cadet what she did for a living, and being told that she worked in a nightclub (as a barmaid), the Duke asked “Is it a strip club?” Observing her surprise he dismissed the suggestion saying that it was “probably too cold for that anyway”.

The Duke at 90 will be aired on BBC1 on June 9.

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