At a G20 summit, the Queen asked of Italian leader Silvio Berlusconi: ‘Why does he talk so loudly?’ Philip replied: ‘He is Italian, my dear, how else would he sell his ice creams?’

I’m sure this one is an adaptation of on old radio, possibly even music hall, joke:

In 2006 an official at a Canadian airport asked the Duke: ‘What was your flight like, Your Royal Highness?’
Philip: ‘Have you ever flown in a plane?’
Official: ‘Oh yes, Sir, many times.’
Philip: ‘Well, it was just like that.’

In 2005, a female reporter asked him: ‘I wondered if you might like to talk to me?’ He replied: ‘You can carry on wondering.’

And that could be an adaptation of a Calvin Coolidge line (“I bet my husband I could get more than two words out of you” “You lose”).

Still, he has adapted well to what is, umm, his third? after Greek and German, language, no?

25 thoughts on “Snigger”

  1. Why is it that Phil the Greeks utterings are always labelled as ‘gaffes’?

    They are not gaffes, they are jokes. He said them deliberately because he thought it was funny. Some are better than others.

  2. His first language is French and second English. He was brought up in Paris and sent to school in England. I don’t think he speaks much Greek or German at all.

  3. Alex, his father was German and, after he left Greece, he lived in a suite in the Prince-Bishop’s Palace in Bamberg. It would be a surprise if Philip had never spoken German although he would have had little opportunity after 1939 and would probably have forgotten. He spent his Summer school holidays with Marie Bonaparte, the shrink, in Paris but I wonder how much French he retained. You lose language skills very rapidly if you don’t use them


    “When reflecting on his fondest memory, Westray talks about a time in 1979 when Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip visited the White House. After dinner, Prince Philip went into the Red Room, next to the state dining room. Westray and his buddy were serving liquor. Westray says he was carrying the tray and glasses.

    “The prince was in there by himself, which was odd, because everybody else had gone down to the other end of the building,” Westray says. “I said, ‘Your Majesty, would you care for a cordial?’ He says, ‘I’ll take one if you let me serve it.’ What do you do? I didn’t do all that because I had the stuff in my hand. And he says, ‘If you let me pour it, I’ll have one with you.’

    “… So he poured it, the one he wanted, and we took the same thing that he had. And we had our drink there together and had a little talk while we were there. He told us if we were ever over there in London to stop at Buckingham Palace and see him. Can you imagine the prince serving you? I enjoyed it. You know, we’re not supposed to drink and carry on at that time. We’re not guests. It was just the three of us in the room, so nobody knew what happened. And I drank my little cordial, we all drank, and had a little conversation. But that was one thing I’ll never forget, having been served by royalty.”

  5. Amusing jokes by your enemies are ‘gaffes’. Gaffes or even criminal acts by your friends are, at worst, ‘indiscretions’ for which, of course, “they take full responsibility” (utterly meaningless).

  6. This is my favourite so far:

    Asked to pick their favourite headline-grabbing gaffe, UK reporters chose Kenya’s Independence ceremony in 1963 when Philip represented Britain. As the Union Jack was about to be hauled down, he turned to Kenyan Independence leader Jomo Kenyatta and asked: “Are you sure you want to go through with this?”

  7. Old Jomo was one of the lucky ones in that he died of old age in his bed.

    Better than being executed after having his own ears served up to him with a plate of rice.

  8. @ Diogenes
    Not German, Danish. His sister-in-law was German and unpopular and various people have, either stupidly or maiciously, tried to claim that the whole Greek Royal family was German, whereas it was overwhelmingly Danish, with a small dash of Tsarist Russian.

  9. Referring to the Royals as “German”, in a slightly sneering way, is an example of Acceptable Racism, and quite common.

    Calling Mrs Merkel “German” in the same tone, on the other hand, is Typical Little Englander Racism.

    There ought to be a manual.

  10. Prince Philip speaks English,’German and French. He attended an American school in France so his education was in English. Despite being the prince of Greece and Denmark he doesn’t speak Greek or Danish. He was born in Greece, but didn’t grow up there.

    So there you go.

  11. Bloke in Costa Rica

    The “how was your flight?” one was pure gold. I think the amazing thing is not that Phil unleashes so many bons mots but that the rest of ’em manage to keep a civil tongue in their heads in the face of all the sycophantic inanity with which they must be bombarded.

  12. John77

    The Duke’s mother was German, although she was actually born in the UK. So, under German nationality law, he could be considered German. However, under Danish law, he is of Danish nationality if born outside the Kingdom of Denmark (he was born in Greece) and the father has Danish citizenship and is married to the mother. I am not sure whether his father actually had Danish citizenship as he does not seem to have spent much of his life, if any, in Denmark. Was there special provision that makes Philip Danish?

  13. The Danish royal family were minor German Dukes raised to the throne anyway, weren’t they? Glucksberg Sonderburgs? And then he married a Saxe Coburg Gotha? they’re already cousins (second or third perhaps) a couple of time over aren’t they?

  14. “I declare this thing open, whatever it is.” (On opening an annexe to City Hall, Vancouver.)

  15. He once said something about growth being incremental change. Sensible chap. I’ll try to dig it out.

  16. they’re already cousins (second or third perhaps) a couple of time over aren’t they?

    Philip and Elizabeth are third cousins through their shared relationship to Queen Victoria, but are also second cousins once removed through Christian IX of Denmark.

  17. bloke in france

    Being the Royal Consort must be the most boring job imaginable, since they abandoned sub editors at the Guardian and Telegraph.

    So please. your Royal Highness, write your memoirs before you play the harp. I’d find them fascinating, I’d buy the book in a proper bookshop.

  18. So Much For Subtlety

    I do not come from a particularly Royalist background. I don’t think I have ever heard anyone in my family praise them much. One grandmother perhaps.

    However I think fairness should force people to admit that Phil the Greek has done an outstanding job. He was given a difficult task to perform and he has done so well. He has been a credit to Britain overseas. He has worked hard. He has avoided scandal and other tacky behaviour. Perhaps he could have done something about Charles being such a drip. Perhaps not.

    He has been one of the few people in British politics bigger and better than the office he holds. The anti-Blair if you like.

  19. @ diogenes
    Philip’s mother was the daughter of Admiral of the Fleet Louis Mountbatten, Marquess of Milford Haven and born in England – at Windsor because her mother was a grand-daughter of Queen Victoria.
    Doesn’t sound very German to me

  20. Philip was a world-class Polo player and on one of the occasions when his team won the Cowdray Cup he had to present his team to HM who had previously agreed to present it to the winners: when he got to Charles (not world-class but not too far short), he said “I believe you two have met”

  21. John 77, perhaps your source might be misleading. Per Wiki:

    Admiral of the Fleet Louis Alexander Mountbatten, 1st Marquess of Milford Haven, GCB, GCVO, KCMG, PC (24 May 1854 – 11 September 1921), formerly Prince Louis Alexander of Battenberg, was a British naval officer and German prince related to members of the British Royal Family.

    Although born in Austria, and brought up in Italy and Germany, he enrolled in the United Kingdom’s Royal Navy at the age of fourteen.

    Doesn’t sound especially British to me. Didn’t he change his name from Battenberg and relinquish his numerous German titles to satisfy George V during World War 1?

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