Prince Philip of England has announced that he will retire from public life later this year. With more than 60 years in the public eye as the companion of Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Philip had to find a way to personally distinguish himself. He did that in part by attending thousands of public events, meeting millions of his subjects…and sticking his foot firmly in his mouth. Here are some of Prince Philip’s most memorable gaffes and blunders.
Gargling With Pebbles
Prince Philip is decidedly not a fan of Welsh singer Tom Jones. After a Royal Variety Performance in 1969, in which the raspy-voiced superstar performed for members of the royal family, Philip asked Jones, “what do you gargle with, pebbles?” The next day, Philip clarified his remarks, or rather added to them. “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.”
In 2000, Prince Philip met with a group of children from a school for the deaf and hearing impaired. At the same event, a Caribbean-style steel drum band performed. Philip was heard saying, “If you’re near there,” meaning the band, “no wonder you are deaf.”
On a visit to Scotland in 1995, the Prince chatted with some regular folks, including a driving instructor. He asked him about his work, or rather he asked him, “How do you keep the natives off the booze long enough to pass the test?”
The Queen and Prince tried to visit the member nations of the British Commonwealth whenever they could. In 1976, they took such a trip to Canada. When asked by a reporter why he came, Philip quipped, “We don’t come here for our health. We can think of other ways of enjoying ourselves.”
A massive recession and wave of unemployment deeply hurt the U.K. in the late ‘70s and early 1980s. Prince Philip didn’t really see what all the fuss was about. In 1981, he said, “a few years ago, everybody was saying we must have more leisure, everyone’s working too much. Now that everybody’s got more leisure time they are complaining they are unemployed. People don’t seem to make up their minds what they want.”
Waste of Space
Philip was on hand to schmooze with guests at the 2000 opening of a brand-new, multimillion-dollar British Embassy in Berlin. His thoughts on the facility: “It’s a vast waste of space.”
French chef Regis Crépy cooked a tremendous breakfast spread for Philip in 2002, consisting of bacon, eggs, salmon, croissants, and pain au chocolate. Philip’s take: “The French don’t know how to cook breakfast.”
Who Doesn’t Like Koalas?
Who doesn’t like koalas? Prince Philip. He turned down the chance to pet one of the adorable marsupials during a visit to Australia in 1992, because he “might catch some ghastly disease.”