Prince Philip: King of the Awkward One-Liner



Brusque, avuncular, and with a reputation for being overly plain-speaking, Prince Philip has over seven decades been a formidable presence at the side of Queen Elizabeth II as she made the countless round of dinners, ceremonies and other engagements expected of the British monarch.

A product of the “stiff upper lip” era, the prince, 95 — who Buckingham Palace announced on Thursday was stepping back from his public duties — has over the years produced a remarkable collection of politically incorrect, tone deaf and, on occasion, genuinely funny one-liners that have been gleefully recorded by generations of British journalists.

We have compiled some of our favorites here.

“I declare this thing open, whatever it is.”

— On a visit to Canada in 1969

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

— During the 1981 recession

“It looks as if it was put in by an Indian.”

— Pointing to an old-fashioned fuse box in a factory near Edinburgh in 1999

“Deaf? If you are near there, no wonder you are deaf.”

— To young deaf people in Cardiff, Wales, in 1999, referring to a school’s steel band


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

To British students in China, during a 1986 state visit

“You managed not to get eaten, then?”

Suggesting to a British student in 1998 who had been trekking in Papua New Guinea that tribes there were still cannibals

“You look like you’re ready for bed!”

To the president of Nigeria, who was dressed in traditional robes

“So who’s on drugs here? He looks as if he’s on drugs.”

To a 14-year-old member of a Bangladeshi youth club in 2002

“Ah, so this is feminist corner then.”

— To a group of female Labour lawmakers at a party at Buckingham Palace in 2000

Prince Philip during a polo match at Windsor, England, in 1965.CreditAssociated Press

“We go into the red next year. I shall probably have to give up polo.”


“We don’t come here for our health. We can think of other ways of enjoying ourselves.”

On a tour of Canada in 1976

“You are a woman, aren’t you?”

— When accepting a figurine from a woman during a visit to Kenya in 1984

“How do you keep the natives off the booze long enough to pass the test?”

To a driving instructor in Oban, Scotland, in 1995

1962: Philip Sails Into Sea of Mishaps

“The Duke of Edinburgh was thrown into the sea today when his sailboat capsized off the Isle of Wight and half an hour later he escaped serious injury when the boom of a crane crashed near him.”

Claire Barthelemy, Palko Karasz and Iliana Magra contributed reporting.

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Source: New York Times



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