Prince of Misrule

HRH The Duke of Edinburgh today presented 100 Gold Award Certificates to Duke of Edinburgh's Award participants at Hillsborough Castle. Photo by Aaron McCracken/Harrisons 07778373486

The internet is alive with stories about Prince Philip, including some dubious facts.  Such as, that he has written 14 books, to which we can return later.

When it was announced, very recently, that he was standing down, he famously remarked “Well, I’m finding it harder to be standing up.”   HRH has been the Prince Consort to Queen Elizabeth for seven decades, and he is famous for his lack of tact, his humour, and his gaffes. Also, for being handsome, dashing, flirtatious and refreshing.

I was intrigued by an article in The Guardian about his popularity and importance in England…
You Gotta Smile

Here’s a quote: “Every civilisation needs a blowout valve…so, a safety valve, such as the Duke of Edinburgh, a figurehead with no real power, is exactly what you need. Let’s be grateful that we’ve had our splendidly outrageous, utterly harmless Prince of Misrule….a titular Top Man with no power whatsoever, handsome, heroic, square-jawed, gaffe-prone, able to speak to the darkest depths of his people and make them laugh with delight, as he puts his foot in it once again, and gets away with it, with no real damage to anyone.”  The writer is author James Hawes (whose most recent book is The Shortest History of Germany).

James Hawes thinks America has chosen Trump for the same reason,  but with very dangerous results.

Some of Prince Philip’s gaffes and politically incorrect comments are listed below, but he’s done a lot of other things.  He’s had 22,191 sole official engagements, given 5493 speeches,  and been involved with 785 charities, among a few other things.   His ‘Duke of Edinburgh Award’ is now world famous for its support for young people taking on challenges they choose themselves.

Some famous quotes from the Duke –

“If it farts and eats hay, she’s interested in it.”  Talking about his daughter, Princess Anne, a keen horsewoman.’

“Do you gargle with pebbles?”  Speaking to singer Tom Jones.

“I declare this thing open, whatever it is.” On a visit to Canada in l969.

“If it has four legs and isn’t a chair, if has two wings and flies but isn’t an aeroplane, if it swims and is not a submarine, the Cantonese will eat it.”  At a world Wild Life meeting.

“Yak, yak, yak: come on and get a move on!”   Shouted from the deck of the Britannia at the Queen talking to her hosts on quayside.

“If a cricketer, for instance, suddenly decided to go into a school and batter a lot of people to death with a cricket bat, are you going to ban cricket bats? “   Responding to  calls to ban firearms after a shooting in Dunblane.

“It looks as if it was put in by an Indian,” pointing to an old fashioned fuse box in a factory.

“Deaf?  No wonder you are deaf” (to young people in Cardiff referring to a school’s steel band).

If you stay here much longer, you’ll be slitty eyed,” to British students in China.

“Oh, no. I might catch some ghastly disease.”  When asked to stroke a Koala Bear in Australia.

“I wish he’d turn the microphone off” – at a Sir Elton John concert.

“Do you still throw spears at each other?” to an Aboriginal entrepreneur in Australia.

“Do you know they are now producing eating dogs for anorexics?” to a blind woman with a dog, in a crowd in Exeter.

“Bits are beginning to drop off”, on his 90th birthday in 2011.

He has also been known to use very colourful language, and has referred to himself as nothing much more than “a bloody amoeba,” after the queen decided the children should be called Windsor and not Mountbatten.

“I hope he breaks his bloody neck”, when a photographer fell out of a tree.

“When a man opens a car door for his wife, it’s either a new car or a new wife.”

“Where did you get that hat?” (Supposedly said to the Queen at her Coronation).

It is not known what he said, when he found out he had been given a knighthood by an obscure Australian Prime Minister, Tony Abbott.

The Author Duke

Now to the l4 books said to be written by HRH.   I could find two – “Competition Carriage Driving” in l990 and, later, “30 years On and Off the Box”, again about carriage driving.  He has written forewords to many others, including intriguingly the foreword to a book on “Australian Birds”, by Robin Hill (publisher Nelson – ICC) in the 1960s.

So – is he just a funny old bugger, who caught the eye of a Princess – or an honest social safety valve who can’t be bothered with platitudes and does no harm?   Where will we find another like him, now that he is sitting down?

Maggie Boserio.

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