Since marrying Liz, the one who would be queen, Phil has had his life turned upside down. Clearly this couple liked one another but her role meant his Naval career would come to an end. He was born into the Greek royal family in 1921, his mother gave birth on the kitchen table, but the family were forced to flee in the following troubled years. Enlisting in the navy in 1939 Philip served throughout the war in a variety of ships. His background may not have been the cause of his promotions as time past and he did receive a mention in dispatches at least once. He served in the Mediterranean, the Pacific and off the coast of Britain, none of these postings could be called 'safe.' Incidentally his mother was deaf and used lip reading a lot. This meant that while watching silent movies she would be laughing out loud at what the actors were actually saying as opposed to the part they were playing! Phil found the role of consort very difficult. he was indeed a man of action and must have despaired at role he was called into. While head of the family he was of little importance royally, this however limited his actions and led to many problems in the early years, possibly the comments made while meeting people down the years are caused by this frustrating situation? Here are some of his famous 'gaffes.'
Aboriginal leader William Brin, Queensland, 2002: “Do you still throw spears at each other?”
British student in China, 1986: “If you stay here much longer, you’ll go home with slitty eyes."
"Well, you'll never fly in it, you're too fat to be an astronaut." to a 13-year-old whilst visiting a space shuttle.
"People think there’s a rigid class system here, but dukes have even been known to marry chorus girls. Some have even married Americans.” 2000.
With Cayman Islanders: “Aren’t most of you descended from pirates?”
With a Scottish driving instructor, 1995: “How do you keep the natives off the booze long enough to pass the test?”
When offered wine in Rome in 2000, he snapped: “I don’t care what kind it is, just get me a beer!”
At Duke of Edinburgh Awards scheme, 2006. “Young people are the same as they always were. Just as ignorant.”
“I’d like to go to Russia very much, although the bastards murdered half my family.” 1967.
To Simon Kelner, republican editor of The Independent, at Windsor Castle reception: “What are you doing here?” “I was invited, sir.” Philip: “Well, you didn’t have to come.”
President of Nigeria, who was in national dress, 2003: “You look like you’re ready for bed!”
His description of Beijing, during a visit there in 1986: “Ghastly.”
To Atul Patel at reception for influential Indians, 2009: “There’s a lot of your family in tonight.”
On the Duke of York’s house, 1986: “It looks like a tart’s bedroom.”
At party in 2004: “Bugger the table plan, give me my dinner!”
With a woman solicitor, 1987: “I thought it was against the law for a woman to solicit.”
On the 1981 recession: “A few years ago, everybody was saying we must have more leisure, everyone’s working too much. Now everybody’s got more leisure time they’re complaining they’re unemployed. People don’t seem to make up their minds what they want.”
When accepting a figurine from a woman during a visit to Kenya he asked: "You are a woman aren't you?"
Duke of Edinburgh