Upsetting the Chinese, Indians and men with goatee beards

Upsetting the Chinese, Indians and men with goatee beards: The Duke who often said what he shouldn’t (but the public loved him for it)

  • Prince Philip realised his own capacity for making gaffes, and even had a word for it, ‘Dontopedalogy’
  • The Duke of Edinburgh defined this as ‘the science of opening your mouth and putting your foot in it’ 
  • Some took offence, but most appreciated his wit, which put them at ease during official engagements

Prince Philip was known for his energy and unfailing sense of duty, but perhaps what gained him most attention over the years were his unashamedly non-PC comments.

The Duke realised his own capacity for making gaffes, and even had a word for it, ‘Dontopedalogy’.

This he described as, ‘The science of opening your mouth and putting your foot in it, a science which I have practised for a good many years . . .’

Some people, inevitably, took offence at some of his more strident remarks, but most appreciated his wit, which saw him through countless official engagements.

Many people who met Philip commented on his ability to set them at ease with an amusing comment. 

This helped jolt them out of the stuffy formality that sometimes characterised royal occasions.

Here are some of his most legendary gaffes over the years…

State visit to China in 1986 

In one of his most infamous outbursts, the Duke of Edinburgh’s advised youngsters in China during a state visit in 1986 that ‘if you stay here much longer you will all be be slitty-eyed’. In a BBC documentary to mark his 90th birthday, he remarked: ‘I’d forgotten about it. But for one particular reporter who overheard it, it wouldn’t have come out’

State visit to Australia in 2002  

During the visit in March 2002, the Prince asked an Aboriginal cultural park owner called William Brim: ‘Do you still throw spears at each other?’ Mr Brim replied: ‘No, we don’t do that any more’

Trip to Bromley in south London, 2012

When Prince Philip spotted Hannah Jackson, 25, in the crowd during a trip to Bromley in 2012, the elderly royal turned to the policeman standing next to her and gestured towards her eye-catching peplum-style red dress which had a zip running the length of its front, saying: ‘I would get arrested if I unzipped that dress!’

Chadwell Heath Community Centre in Dagenham, east London, for its opening in 2015

While visiting a London community centre group in July 2015, Philip asked a group of women ‘who do you sponge off?’ Ms Zamir, who founded the Chadwell Heath Asian Women’s Network which meets at the centre, said: ‘The Duke said to us “who do you sponge off?” We’re all married so it’s our husbands. He was just teasing and it’s similar to what I call my husband – the wallet’

Battle of Britain anniversary photocall, 2015 

An impatient Prince Philip was caught swearing on camera during a photocall for the Battle of Britain in 2015. He appeared to say: ‘Just take the f****** picture’

Opening of the Luton and Dunstable Hospital in 2013 

As he opened a £5.5million facility at Luton and Dunstable Hospital in 2013, he told a Filipino nurse: ‘The Philippines must be half-empty – you’re all here running the NHS’ 

Buckingham Palace garden party, August 2009 

A Buckingham Palace guest in 2009 with a goatee told Prince Philip he was a designer. He responded with: ‘Well, you didn’t design your beard too well, did you?’ It was later revealed that the guest was 38-year-old Stephen Judge, who said of the Duke: ‘I could see a twinkle in his eye’

Reception for 400 British Indians at Buckingham Palace, October 2009 

At a reception for 400 British Indians in October 2009, Prince Philip made a joke about Patel being the second-most common Indian surname while talking to businessman Atul Patel. He said: ‘There’s a lot of your family in tonight’

State visit in Kenya, 1984 

While being given a gift from a Kenya woman during a state visit, he asked her: ‘You are a woman, aren’t you?’

Navy barrack visit in Exeter, Devon, in March 2010

Navy sea cadet instructor Elizabeth Rendle, 24, who works in a bar, was asked ‘Is it a strip club?’ by the Prince. She said: ‘It was a joke and I didn’t take any offence,’ after the blunder in Exeter, Devon, in March 2010

Visit to Bangladeshi youth club in central London, December 2002 

And while meeting members of a Bangladeshi youth club in central London, the Duke of Edinburgh sat among them and cheerily enquired: ‘So, who’s on drugs here?’ Pointing at 14-year-old Shahin Ullah, Philip smirked and observed: ‘He looks as if he’s on drugs’

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