Prince Philip is celebrating his 97th birthday on Sunday. The retired Duke of Edinburgh has seven decades of service under his belt, meaning Philip has carried out thousands upon thousands of royal engagements — it’s also a lot of time for conversation. Conversation and, well, Prince Philip’s decades-long series of gaffes, faux pas and, in the parlance of the British, “clangers.” Here’s a look back at some of his best below.
Philip has an entire book, Wise Words and Golden Gaffes, written about his way with words. On this occasion in particular, which better of his quotes to lead off this roundup with than this one?
1. “It’s the secret of a happy marriage to have different interests.”
2. Then again, there’s also this one, from 1998: “I don’t think a prostitute is more moral than a wife but they are doing the same thing.”
3. To the Queen after her coronation: “Where did you get that hat?”
4. It’s the 20th anniversary of this gem, as well. To a Scottish driving instructor, 1995: “How do you keep the natives off the booze long enough to get them through the test?”
5. “Oh, yes there’s lots of orphanages in Romania – they must breed them.”
6. To a photographer, earlier this year: “Just take the f—ing picture!”
7. On Canada: “We don’t come here for our health. We can think of other ways of enjoying ourselves.”
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8. On Beijing: “Ghastly.”
9. “British women can’t cook.”
10. “The French don’t know how to cook breakfast.”
11. His opinion of the new British embassy in Berlin, which opened in 2000 at a cost of 18 million pounds: “It’s a vast waste of space.”
12. To a 14-year-old youth group member: “So who’s on drugs here? He looks as if he’s on drugs.”
13. On the Duke of York’s home: “It looks like a tart’s bedroom.”
14., 15., 16. Philip seems to have a special antipathy toward Tom Jones, asking him first in 1969, “What do you gargle with, pebbles?”
The next day, he reportedly said, “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.”
Then, in response to a comment about how difficult it is to get rich in Britain, years later: “What about Tom Jones? He’s made a million and he’s a bloody awful singer.”
17. On his wife: “You can take it from me, the Queen has the quality of tolerance in abundance.”
18. “I have never been noticeably reticent about talking on subjects about which I know nothing.”
19. To a nursing home resident in a wheelchair: “Do people trip over you?”
20. Lastly, on his own life: “I’d much rather have stayed in the Navy, frankly.”