The Duke of Edinburgh’s Gaffes
Speaking about the rate of British tax, he said: “All money nowadays seems to be produced with a natural homing instinct for the Treasury.”
On seeing an exhibition of “primitive” Ethiopian art, he muttered: “It looks like the kind of thing my daughter would bring back from her school art lessons.”
The Duke famously proclaimed: “British women can’t cook”.
When asked if he would like to visit the Soviet Union: “I would like to go to Russia very much, although the bastards murdered half my family.”
The Duke said to Tom Jones after his Royal Variety Performance: “What do you gargle with, pebbles?”.
He later added: “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.”
On the Royal Family’s finances: “We go into the red next year. I shall probably have to give up polo.”
On a tour of Canada: “We don’t come here for our health. We can think of other ways of enjoying ourselves.”
During the 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 he asked: “You are a woman aren’t you?”
He told a World Wildlife Fund meeting that “if it has got four legs and it is not a chair, if it has got two wings and flies but is not an aeroplane and if it swims and it is not a submarine, the Cantonese will eat it.”
Prince Philip’s opinion of Beijing, during a tour of China in 1986, was simply: “Ghastly.”
To a British tourist in Hungary in he quipped: “You can’t have been here that long — you haven’t got a pot belly.”
To survivors of the Lockerbie bombing he told them: “People usually say that after a fire it is water damage that is the worst. We are still drying out Windsor Castle.”
“Aren’t most of you descended from pirates?”, he asked an islander in the Cayman Islands.
To a Caribbean rabbit breeder in Anguilla, he said: “Don’t feed your rabbit’s pawpaw fruit — it acts as a contraceptive. Then again, it might not work on rabbits.”
He asked a Scottish driving instructor in Oban: “How do you keep the natives off the booze long enough to pass the test?”
Following the 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?”
The Duke asked a British student who had been trekking in Papua New Guinea: “You managed not to get eaten then?”
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”.
To guests at the opening reception of a new £18million British Embassy in Berlin: “It’s a vast waste of space.”
At a Buckingham Palace drinks party, he told group of female Labour MPs: “Ah, so this is feminist corner then.”
On being offered fine Italian wines by Giuliani Amato, the former Prime Minister, at a dinner in Rome, he is said to have uttered: “Get me a beer. I don’t care what kind it is, just get me a beer!”
“People think there’s a rigid class system here, but dukes have been known to marry chorus girls. Some have even married Americans.”
To Elton John: “Oh it’s you that owns that ghastly car is it? We often see it when driving to Windsor Castle.”
While touring a factory near Edinburgh 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 with the Queen he asked: “Do you still throw spears at each other?”
To the Aircraft Research Association, he said: “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.”
Said to black dance troupe Diversity at the Royal Variety Performance: “Are you all one family?”
To a young fashion designer at Buckingham Palace he told him: “You didn’t design your beard too well, did you? You really must try better with your beard.”
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”.
At a prize-giving ceremony for the Duke of Edinburgh Awards a girl told him that she’d been to Romania to help in an orphanage. He replied: “Oh yes, there are a lot of orphanages in Romania – they must breed them”.
“YOU have mosquitoes. I have the Press.”
– To the matron of a hospital in the Caribbean.
“If it doesn’t fart or eat hay then she isn’t interested”
– speaking about his daughter, Princess Anne.
“Can you tell the difference between them?”
– The Duke’s question after President Barack Obama said he met with the leaders of the UK, China and Russia.
“The problem with London is the tourists. They cause the congestion. If we could just stop the tourism, we could stop the congestion.”
– on London traffic.
“Well, you’ll never fly in it, you’re too fat to be an astronaut.”
– to a 13-year-old whilst visiting a space shuttle.
“I would love to go to Russia very much – although the bastards murdered half my family”
– when asked if he would like to visit the Soviet Union.
“You look like you’re ready for bed!”
– To the President of Nigeria, dressed in traditional robes.