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Infamous Gaffes

October 4, 2006

A colleague pointed me in the direction of this great piece from BBC Online here. Brings back memories of all those gaffes most of which I recall from when they originally occurred.

Still I was amazed that Prince Phillips comments to a group of british students in China in 1986 didn’t make this list. He famously told them “If you stay here much longer, you’ll all be slitty-eyed”.

I went in search of the details of this gaffe and was amazed to find a whole list of them on Wikipedia which I have reproduced below.

Speaking to a driving instructor in Scotland, he asked: “How do you keep the natives off the booze long enough to get them through the test?”.

When visiting China in 1986 he told a group of British students, “If you stay here much longer, you’ll all be slitty-eyed”.

After accepting a gift from a Kenyan citizen he replied, “You are a woman, aren’t you?”

“If it has four legs and is not a chair, has wings and is not an aeroplane, or swims and is not a submarine, the Cantonese will eat it.” (1986)

“British women can’t cook.” (1966)

To a British student in Papua New Guinea “You managed not to get eaten then?”

Angering local residents in Lockerbie when on a visit to the town in 1993, the Prince said to a man who lived in a road where 11 people had been killed by wreckage from the Pan Am jumbo jet: “People usually say that after a fire it is water damage that is the worst. We are still trying to dry out Windsor Castle.”

On a visit to the new Welsh Assembly in Cardiff he told a group of deaf children standing next to a Jamaican steel drum band, “Deaf? No wonder you are deaf standing so close to that racket.”

He asked an Indigenous Australian, “Still throwing spears?” (2002)

When touring a dog training centre for the deaf and the blind, he is rumoured to have enquired whether they train eating dogs for the anorexic.

Said to a Briton in Budapest Hungary, “You can’t have been here that long – you haven’t got a pot belly.” (1993)

To the President of Nigeria, who was dressed in traditional African robes, “You look like you’re ready for bed!”

To Lord Taylor of Warwick, who is black: “And what exotic part of the world do you come from?” Lord Taylor: “I’m from Birmingham.”

Seeing a shoddily installed fuse box in a high-tech Edinburgh factory, HRH remarked that it looked “like it was put in by an Indian”.

During a Royal visit to China in 1986 he described Peking as “ghastly”.

“Aren’t most of you descended from pirates?” (in 1994, to an islander in the Cayman Islands)

At the height of the recession in 1981 he said: “Everybody was saying we must have more leisure. Now they are complaining they are unemployed.”

Upon presenting a Duke of Edinburgh Award to a student, when informed that the young man was going to help out in Romania for six months, he asked if the student was going to help the Romanian orphans; upon being informed he was not, he said words to the effect of “Good, they [the Romanians] breed orphans over there.”

At Salford University, he told a 13 year old aspiring astronaut: “Well, you’ll never fly in it, you’re too fat.”

During a Royal visit to a Tamil Hindu temple in London, he asked a Hindu priest if he was related to the terrorist Tamil Tigers

Can anyone think of any other famous gaffes?

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Categories: Fun
  1. MsDemmie
    October 5, 2006 at 1:08 pm

    I actually met him when I was 13 and doing my D of E Awards. He was rather witty and was impressed that I was the only girl at the time taking rifle shooting as my sport and I was pleased that he had singled me out for comment.

    I feel a little bit sorry for him – my life would have been very boring if I couldnt have made witty/sercastic asides to see me through some of the more tedious moments – I am sure he must have had more than enough of them in his lifetime.

    In an ideal world yes – he shouldnt have made them – not the most tactful thing to do- the biggest crime I think was getting caught making them – he should have restrained himself to thinking them.

  2. Tony Ferguson
    October 5, 2006 at 1:18 pm

    Fair comment and I guess despite the comfortable lifestyle the rest of the job must be extremely tedious

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