"Dontopedalogy is the science of opening your mouth and putting your foot in it, a science I have practiced for a good many years." Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh
More so than any other member of the royal family, Prince Philip has perfected the art of saying the wrong thing at the wrong time. He has even coined the word 'dontopedalogy' (putting the foot in the mouth) for some of his more well reporterd gaffes. From the inane to the politically incorrect, to the borderline racist, I present just a few of Prince Philip's more memorable sayings*:
"British women can't cook" (1966)
On a visit to Australia in 1992, when asked if he'd like to stroke a koala, Australia's national symbol, he said: "No, I might get some ghastly disease."
In Kenya, when offered a gift by a woman in native dress: "You ARE a woman, aren't you?" (1984)
"Your country is one of the most notorious centres of trading in endangered species in the world." (in 1991, in Thailand, after accepting a conservation award)
"We didn't have counsellors rushing around every time somebody let off a gun, asking 'Are you all right? Are you sure you don't have a ghastly problem?' You just got on with it." (commenting in 1995 on modern stress counselling for servicemen)
To pupils at Queen Anne's School in Berkshire, who wear blood-red uniforms, in 1998: "It makes you all look like Dracula's daughters."
Still throwing spears? (Question put to an Australian Aborigine during a visit in March 2002)
"If a cricketer, for instance, suddenly decided to go into a school and batter a lot of people to death with a cricket bat, which he could do very easily, I mean, are you going to ban cricket bats?" (in 1996, amid calls to ban firearms after the Dunblane shooting)
"Bloody silly fool!" (in 1997, referring to a Cambridge University car park attendant who failed to recognise him)
"If it has got 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." (at a 1986 World Wildlife Fund meeting)
"It looks as if it was put in by an Indian." (in 1999, referring to an old-fashioned fuse box in a factory near Edinburgh)
Speaking to a driving instructor in Oban, Scotland, he asked: "How do you keep the natives off the booze long enough to get them through the test?".
And no list is complete without the most famous of them:
During a state visit to China in 1986, he famously told a group of British students: "If you stay here much longer, you'll all be slitty-eyed".
© Marilyn Braun 2006
*For more information on royal dontopedalogy, see the book: Duke of Hazard - The wit and wisdom of Prince Philip.