Prince Philip’s humour saves ‘his grace’

Official portrait of The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh taken in the Centre Room at Buckingham Palace in December 2011 © Royal Household/John Swannell

In the 65 years since he married Queen Elizabeth II, consort Prince Philip has built a reputation for his caustic wit and politically incorrect gaffes.

And he has hit on one of each in the space of a week:

At the end of last week, he endeared himself to every spouse by berating an award-winning silversmith over the time-consuming problem of the jewellery clasp. You know – Queen comes in wearing full evening ball gown, as you do… “Those infernal clasps are absolutely impossible. You fiddle with them for hours, then they suddenly come undone and they fall on the floor but you have no idea why”….

And bang, there it goes – that Coronation necklace comprising 26 solid diamonds the heaviest weighing 11.25 carats complete with diamond dropper weighing 22.48 carats – crashes to the floor!

Well not quite what happens in our house, but endearing nonetheless.

The following week, he remained true to form by putting his fingers in his ears during a song by American Alicia Keys at the Royal Variety Performance, alongside the Queen, making clear what he thought of the pop star, and when asked after the show what his favourite act had been, he said: “All of them…but to be honest we’re both stone deaf” (he spoke for them both of course).

It’s his humour that saves ‘his grace’. True gift of the gaffe (sorry, borrowed this one from the Evening Standard). He knows the bounds of acceptability.

FYI: here’s a few ripe ones from the past to savour: While on a visit to China in 1986 he told a group of British exchange students: “If you stay here much longer you’ll all be slitty-eyed”.

While touring a factory in the UK, he said a fuse box was so crude it “looked as though it had been put in by an Indian”. He also quipped to black dance troupe Diversity: “Are you all one family?” And a couple of years ago, he said to the President of Nigeria, dressed in traditional robes: “You look like you’re ready for bed!”

Posted by: Judith Ingleton-Beer @ IBA

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