Unlike his wife, the Queen, who has always displayed the utmost decorum and prudence, Prince Philip has never been afraid to stir up controversy by saying exactly what’s on his mind. His extraordinary health has earned him the nickname “Iron Duke” from his compatriots across the pond.
For example, he attended his grandson Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding in 2018 just a few months after hip replacement surgery.
However, Philip has spent decades confusing royal observers by making some spectacularly inappropriate statements at the least opportune times.
On the occasion of Philip’s 98th birthday on June 10th, we take a look back at some of the more contentious points in his career. We don’t think he’s finished making mistakes just yet.
When He Crushed a Little Boy’s Dreams
While visiting Salford University in 2001, Prince Philip revealed some of the hardships Charles had as a child at the hands of his famously strict father.
After giving Andrew Adams, 13, a thorough examination, Philip reportedly said, “You could do with dropping a little bit of weight,” which left the young man speechless, as reported by the Daily Mail.
When He Made Clear He’s Not an Elton John Fan
It was reported in Newsweek that Philip had told the Rocketman that he didn’t like his Aston Martin. Oh, you drive that hideous vehicle, he asked. It’s a common sight on the way to Windsor Castle, which we frequently visit.
The following year, during the singer’s stint at the Royal Variety Performance, Philip reportedly stated, “I wish he’d turn the microphone off,” as reported by The Guardian.
Moreover, when he insulted Tom Jones, another popular British singer, he lost a lot of support.
Prince Philip allegedly questioned Tom Jones, “What do you gargle with, pebbles?” during the 1969 Royal Variety Performance.
The next day, during a luncheon, he reportedly added insult to injury by saying, “It is really difficult to see how it is possible to become immensely important by singing what I think are the most terrible melodies.”
When He Thought Pirates of The Caribbean Was Based on Fact
It appears that Prince Philip is unaware that the films in the Disney ride-based film franchise are works of fiction. In 1994, while visiting the Cayman Islands, he reportedly asked a local, “Aren’t most of you descended from pirates?”
When He Disrespected the President of Nigeria
When Philip saw Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo in 2003, he reportedly said, “You look like you’re ready for bed!” Obasanjo had been dressed in traditional robes for the occasion.
When He Made Multiple Racist Remarks in China
According to a report from 1986, Philip warned a group of British exchange students in Xian, China, “If you stay here much longer you will all be slitty-eyed.” He also shared his thoughts about Beijing, calling it “ghastly.”
During the same trip, Philip told attendees at a World Wildlife Fund meeting, “If it has four legs and is not a chair if it has two wings and flies but is not an airplane, and if it swims but is not a submarine, the Cantonese will eat it.”
“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?” Philip said this in a BBC program made to celebrate his 90th birthday in 2011.
When He Had Some Choice Words About Russia
According to The Telegraph, Philip said this of Russia in 1967, a time of great political unrest: “I would like to go to Russia very much, albeit the b* murdered half my family.” Alright then.
When He Insulted Aboriginals in Australia
Philip shared his thoughts on post-traumatic stress disorder in military personnel in 1995. He supposedly said this in a TV documentary commemorating the 50th anniversary of D-Day: “It was part of the fortunes of war.” We didn’t have therapists running about after every gunshot, asking, “Are you all right—are you sure you don’t have a horrible problem?” You just got on with it.
Maybe Prince Harry’s mental health views have evolved as a result of his work with wounded soldiers and the young royals’ Heads Together mental health program.
When he inquired of a recruit about whether or not she performed stripteases for a living, she declined to answer.
According to The Telegraph, Philip met Elizabeth Rendle, a 24-year-old female sea cadet, in 2010 at Wyvern barracks in Exeter. He allegedly asked if the place was a strip joint, and when she expressed surprise, he said, “Probably too chilly for that anyhow.”
When He Asked a Cadet if She Worked at A Strip Club
Philip said, “British women can’t cook,” to the Scottish Womens’ Institute in 1961, as reported by The Independent. So that’s why he’s the one who always takes care of the grilling duties whenever we visit Balmoral Castle.
When He Said British Women Can’t Cook
A group of deaf schoolchildren was apparently standing near a Caribbean steel drum band in 2000 when Prince Charles reportedly said to them, “Deaf? If you’re near there, no wonder you are deaf.” Yikes!
When he made a remark about Papa New Guinea that was incredibly insensitive,
According to The New York Times, in 1998 he had a conversation with a British student who had been hiking in Papua New Guinea. Philip’s response after hearing his whereabouts was wry, “You managed not to get devoured then?”
When He Made an Outrageous Remark to A Group of Deaf Children
It’s unclear if the Ethiopians or a young Princess Anne have more to apologize for after Philip’s remark in 1965: “It looks like the kind of thing my daughter might bring back from her school art lessons.”
When He Cracked a Tasteless Joke About Papua New Guinea
The BBC reports that in 1995, Philip asked a driving instructor in Scotland, “How do you keep the natives off the drink long enough to pass the test?” If you’re looking for some bad jokes about dad that will make you laugh instead of grimace, check out these 50 examples.
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