Leave it to Prince Philip, everyone’s completely inappropriate old uncle, to stick his foot in it once again.
Britain’s 91-year-old multicultural ambassador was on a tour of the new cardiac centre at Luton & Dunstable Hospital in Bedfordshire, when he turned to a nurse of Filipino extraction and said: "The Philippines must be half-empty – you're all here running the NHS."
The Independent notes that he punctuated this impromptu comedy hour by joking that he was the world’s “most experienced curtain puller” and asked when the hospital would be receiving a helipad to spare him the inconvenience of visiting by car.
Fans of the royal card are used to this sort of humour by now, as the Prince has a long history of cracking the sorts of jokes that end up making headlines.
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Take this infamous quip, for example. During an official tour of China in 1986, Queen Elizabeth’s other half turned to a British student studying in Beijing and said: "If you stay here much longer, you will go home with slitty eyes." Charming.
"If it has four legs and it is not a chair, if it has got two wings and it flies but is not an aeroplane and if it swims and it is not a submarine, the Cantonese will eat it,” he later remarked, flexing those taut diplomatic muscles during a World Wildlife Fund meeting that same year.
But before you get worked up, it’s important to note that the Duke of Edinburgh is an equal opportunity bigot. In the Independent’s spectacular roundup of the Prince’s Greatest Hits, his sharp tongue stabs at everyone from Hungarians and Africans to the deaf.
"You can't have been here that long – you haven't got a pot belly," he told a British tourist during a tour of Budapest 20 years ago.
Speaking of food, one of Prince Philip’s favourite themes it would appear, back in 1998 he marveled at the fact that a British student in Papua New Guinea had managed “not to get (himself) eaten” while on vacation in the Melanesian island. Hey, Prince Philip. We’ve got a former mayor you might like to meet.
And after a Kenyan woman presented him with a gift during his 1984 tour of the African country, he rewarded her generosity by asking her: "You ARE a woman, aren't you?" That’s the Duke winning points with all the ladies.
While the Prince’s brand of off-colour humour certainly appeals to some, it’s not exactly the sort of comedy that goes over well when you’re on an expensive taxpayer-funded mission to represent your country.
But anything is fair game on the standup circuit, a career the Duke might have pursued had his life taken a different turn.
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Although it’s never too late. He may even be able to start paying for his own trips with his comedy earnings. Then he can say whatever he wants.
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