Prince Philip's all-time worst gaffes

Prince Philip has spent seven decades in the public spotlight - plenty of time rack up an impressive list of gaffes and faux pas.

While many suggest the Duke's views on race and gender are of a different age, much of the time he just appears to simply lack a filter, saying whatever inappropriate thing comes into his head.

Philip will step down from public duties later this year, but for posterity, here are some of his all-time greatest clangers.


"Everybody was saying we must have more leisure. Now they are complaining they are unemployed."

At the height of the UK unemployment crisis of the early 1980s, the Duke - who once said he wished he'd stayed in the Navy, rather than take up royal duties full-time - didn't show much sympathy.

"Deaf? If you're near there, no wonder you are deaf."

Said to deaf children standing close to a Caribbean steel drum band in 2000.

"I don't think a prostitute is more moral than a wife, but they are doing the same thing."

Somehow, this was the Duke's response to claims butchers have greater moral authority than those taking part in blood sports, such as bullfighting.

"Aren't most of you descended from pirates?"

Said in the Cayman Islands, a British territory in the Caribbean, in 1994.

"If it has four legs and it is not a chair, if it has got two wings and it flies but is not an aeroplane, and if it swims and it is not a submarine, the Cantonese will eat it."

The Duke gives his two cents on Asian cuisine at a World Wildlife Fund meeting in 1986.

"How many more?"

After 36 hongi with Māori leaders, the Duke called it quits.

"Do people trip over you?"

To a wheelchair-bound nursing home resident in 2002.

"It's a pleasure to be in a country that isn't ruled by its people."

The Duke to Paraguayan dictator Alfredo Stroessner in 1963, clearly longing for the days before the Magna Carta.

"How do you keep the natives off the booze long enough to pass the test?"

To a Scottish driving instructor in 1995.

Prince Philip (Getty)
Prince Philip (Getty)

"You look like you're ready for bed!"

The Duke mistakes the President of Nigeria's traditional robes for pyjamas in 2003.

"You're too fat to be an astronaut."

That time he crushed the dreams of a 13-year-old visiting a space shuttle.

"If you stay here much longer, you will go home with slitty eyes."

Said to a 21-year-old British student in 1986, on a visit to China.

"Young people are the same as they always were. They are just as ignorant."

At a ceremony for the Duke of Edinburgh Awards - which honours standout youth achievement.

"I thought it was against the law these days for a woman to solicit."

On meeting a female solicitor.

"Do you still throw spears at each other?"

The burning question Prince Philip just had to ask an Australian aboriginal leader in 2002.

"Ah, so this is feminist corner then."

On meeting a group of Labour MPs whose name badges all began 'Ms'.

"Cats kill far more birds than men. Why don't you have a slogan: 'Kill a cat and save a bird?"

The Duke, in 1965 - nearly 50 years ahead of Gareth Morgan.

"There's a lot of orphanages in Romania - they must breed them."

The Duke makes a terrible joke about orphans in 2010.

"Dontopedalogy is the science of opening your mouth and putting your foot in it, a science which I have practiced for a good many years."

At one point in the distant past, 1960 to be precise, it seems the Duke was completely aware of his gaffe-prone nature.