20 of Prince Philip’s most famous – and controversial – gaffes and one-liners

Sinead Butler
Friday 09 April 2021 18:06
Celebrities
(Getty Images)

The Duke of Edinburgh was one of the most outspoken members of the Royal Family and was perhaps best known for his gaffes.

He shocked and sometimes delighted the public with his candid remarks.

Some were bluntly to the point and others were deemed offensive and culturally and racially insensitive.

As a result, his reputation for plain speaking often led to controversy, but he was once branded a “national treasure” by the press for his inability to hold back his off-the-cuff comments.

Here are some of Philip’s famous gaffes and one-liners:

“Where did you get that hat?”

– supposedly to the Queen, regarding her crown, at her Coronation in 1953.

“I declare this thing open, whatever it is”

– on a visit to Canada in 1969.

“If the man had succeeded in abducting Anne, she would have given him a hell of a time while in captivity”

– on a gunman who tried to kidnap the Princess Royal in 1974.

“Everybody was saying we must have more leisure. Now they are complaining they are unemployed”

– during the 1981 recession.

“If you stay here much longer, you’ll all be slitty-eyed”

– to British students in China, during the 1986 state visit.

“It looks like a tart’s bedroom”

– on seeing plans for the Duke and Duchess of York’s house at Sunninghill Park in 1988.

“Your country is one of the most notorious centres of trading in endangered species in the world”

– in Thailand in 1991, after accepting a conservation award

“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”

– about the Second World War, commenting on modern stress counselling for servicemen in 1995.

“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 1995 walkabout.

“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 1996, amid calls to ban firearms after the Dunblane shooting.

“You managed not to get eaten, then?”

– suggesting in 1998 to a student who had been trekking in Papua New Guinea that tribes there were still cannibals.

“You’re too fat to be an astronaut”

- to 13-year-old Andrew Adams who told Philip in Salford in 2001 that he wanted to go into space.

“I wish he’d turn the microphone off”

– muttered at the Royal Variety Performance in 2001 as he watched Sir Elton John perform.

“Do you still throw spears at each other?”

– in Australia in 2002, talking to a successful Aboriginal entrepreneur.

“Do you work at a strip club?”

– to 24-year-old Barnstaple Sea Cadet Elizabeth Rendle in March 2010, after she told him she also worked in a nightclub.

“Bits are beginning to drop off”

– on approaching his 90th birthday in 2011.

“The Philippines must be half empty as you’re all here running the NHS”

– on meeting a Filipina nurse at a Luton hospital in February 2013.

“Do you get bonus points if you knock her off?”

– after spotting a toddler sat on an inflatable ball during at activity class at a care home in 2013.

“Just take the f****** picture”

– losing patience with an RAF photographer at events to mark the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Britain in July 2015.

“You all should be locked up”

– to Royal Marines who had completed a 1,664-mile trek – on August 2 2017 on his final official royal engagement as he began his retirement.

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