Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, husband and consort of Queen Elizabeth II, has been at it again. Living up to his nickname of King of the Gaffes, old Phil has been ruffling feathers with arguably racist words.
Last week Philip was on a visit to Cambridge when he put his foot where his mouth should be once again. He was on an official visit of the Medical Research Council’s Laboratory of Molecular Biology (LMB) in Cambridge when he addressed a Polish scientist. He asked the research student if he had come to Britain "to pick raspberries".
Polish migrant workers are much valued at establishments that grow strawberries, other fruits and vegetables in the UK. The workers have a record of being fast, good timekeepers and diligent.
The Prince, 91, may be forgiven due to his age and presumptions that he is at least borderline senile but he has a long standing reputation for making offensive remarks, doled out with a smile and perhaps an attempt at humour.
Cambridge News recalls some infamous gaffes such as "In 2002, the 91-year-old asked a group of Australian aborigines: “Do you still throw spears at each other?” While talking to a Scottish driving instructor, he remarked: “How do you keep the natives off the booze long enough to get them through the test?” He also reportedly reduced a 13-year-old boy to tears when he told him he would have to lose weight to fulfil his ambition of becoming an astronaut.
And he famously told a group of British students during a 1986 state visit to China that they would become “slitty-eyed” if they stayed in the country any longer."
Queen confers new title on Prince Philip
Queen Elizabeth II of England celebrated her Diamond Jubilee in 2012. Sixty glorious years on the throne with her husband Prince Philip by her side. The Prince, often also referred to as HRH Duke of Edinburgh, has proved a valuable asset to the Queen though he does have a reputation for making gaffes. He has faithfully supported the Queen throughout her reign.
When Prince Philip celebrated his 90th birthday in 2011 he stated that he would start to “slow down”. For any ordinary person they would normally have been retired years before such a birthday. For Royals, retirement may not be an easy option.
It is always difficult deciding what to give an older person for a special birthday. Usually with age, they have acquired most things that they may have wanted at one time. If the recipient is to be a high ranking Prince, the task is doubly hard. What can you possibly give a wealthy Prince for his 90th birthday? Well his wife, Queen Elizabeth II, had the perfect gift in mind.
When the royal couple married, in 1947, the Prince had a successful naval career. This looked set to prosper and flourish. He had enrolled in the navy in 1939 and, in the same year, he was hailed the best sea cadet at the Royal Naval College in Dartmouth. After marrying Princess Elizabeth, Philip left the navy. It was now 1951.
Prince Philip chose the role of supporting his wife above his own career and he continues to do so.
With the early death of the Queen’s father, King George VI, the young couple found themselves in important roles, Elizabeth as Queen and Philip as her consort, in all but name. Any hopes of returning to, or furthering, his naval career were put on the back burner.
Queen Elizabeth was the titular head of Britain’s Royal Navy, having held this office since 1964. The role of Lord High Admiral of the Navy dates back to the 14th Century. It was conferred on HRH Duke of Edinburgh by way of thanks, from his wife for his birthday. It recognized the personal career sacrifices the Prince made sixty years ago. It also rewarded him for his public service to the people of Great Britain and the Commonwealth.
She handed over this role to the Duke of Edinburgh and granted him the title of Lord High Admiralty of the Navy for his 90th birthday.
On June 10, 2013 Philip will be 92. Perhaps this year she should officially name him King of the Gaffes and hand him a pension book.