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Prince Philip: A life of quotes from the controversial consort

As well as being the longest serving royal consort in history and founder of the Duke of Edinburgh scheme, Prince Philip was perhaps most widely known for his use of language.

The Queen and Prince Philip on the balcony of Buckingham Palace, 16 June 2012. Image credit: Carfax2/Wikimedia Commons

There are many ways to describe Prince Philip, the Queen’s husband of 70 years who has died at the age of 99. As well as being the longest serving royal consort in history and founder of the Duke of Edinburgh scheme, he was perhaps most widely known for his use of language.

The more forgiving parts of the media have referred to Philip’s near constant ability to offend when on public service as “gaffes” from an “outspoken” member of the royal family.

Who can forget, when speaking to British students in China in the 1980s, he was reported to have told them “If you stay here much longer you’ll all be slitty-eyed”. Then on seeing a poorly wired fuse box while on a tour near Edinburgh in 1999, he was quoted as saying “It looks as though it was put in by an Indian”. And in 2009, when he met the multi-ethnic dance troupe Diversity in 2009, he asked them: “Are you all one family?”

These comments — and there are many others — were rightly condemned as being outright racist. Either way, he seems to have been aware of the fallout from his remarks for some time, telling the General Dental Council in 1960: “Dentopedalogy is the science of opening your mouth and putting your foot in it. I have been practising it for years”.

Here are some of Prince Philip’s more memorable quotes.

Approaching his 90th birthday in 2011: “Bits are beginning to drop off.”

At a dinner party in 2004: “Bugger the table plan, give me my dinner!”

Talking to Tom Jones after his Royal Variety Performance in 1969: “What do you gargle with, pebbles?”

Shouted to the Queen from the deck of Her Majesty’s Yacht Britannia in Belize in 1994: “Yak, yak, yak; come on get a move on.”

To his wife after her coronation: “Where did you get that hat?”

On turning 80 in 2001: “I’m not sure I recommend it. It’s not so much the age, but trying to survive the celebrations”

After hearing Madonna was singing the Die Another Day theme song in 2002: “Are we going to need ear plugs?”

When arriving to open a youth centre in Brighton in 2007: “Who are you burying today?”

To Elton John of his gold Aston Martin in 2001: “Oh, it’s you that owns that ghastly car – we often see it when driving to Windsor Castle”

To president Kenyatta during Kenya’s independence, as the Union Jack was lowered in 1963: “Are you sure you want to go ahead with this, old chap?”

To Cherie Blair, wife of then Prime Minister Tony Blair on hearing that London had won the 2012 Olympic bid in 2005: “I’m so old I won’t be here”

On the new £18 million British Embassy in Berlin in 2000: “It’s a vast waste of space.”

About his daughter Princess Anne in 1970: “If it doesn’t fart or eat hay, she isn’t interested.”

 To a fashion designer, 2009: “Well, you didn’t design your beard too well, did you?”

On marriage in 1997: “You can take it from me the Queen has the quality of tolerance in abundance.”

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