Review – Prince Philip: Wise Words and Golden Gaffes

Richard Palmer, Royal Corres­pondent at The DAILY EXPRESS had this to say about Prince Philip: Wise Words and Golden Gaffes:

THE Queen and Prince Philip celeb­rate their 65th anniversary tomorrow and if the Duke of Edin­burgh follows tradi­tion he will buy his wife a blue sapphire.

Quite what Philip will receive is open to debate but on the eve of the anniversary, two seasoned royal watchers offer him a gift in the form of a new collec­tion of his some­times wise and occa­sion­ally not so wise sayings.

Fleet Street veteran Phil Dampier, who has been writing about the Royal Family for 26 years, and Ashley Walton, royal corres­pondent of the Daily Express from 1979 to 1992, have compiled Prince Philip: Wise Words and Golden Gaffes a new collec­tion of his one-​​liners to follow up their best-​​selling book Duke of Hazard: The Wit and Wisdom of Prince Philip.

The £8.99 book, published today, portrays Philip in a slightly more flat­tering light than their first one. “I think the Duke comes across as a much more complex and thoughtful char­acter in this book, as we’ve got a lot of his wisdom as well as some of his infamous so-​​called gaffes,” said Phil.

His co-​​author added: “Despite his three hospital visits in the last year or so, the Prince remains on top form and has been dishing it out as usual, despite now being 91.

“He is a national treasure and I think the public now holds him in possibly more affec­tion than ever before. They love his straight-​​talking and the fact that he is not tied down by polit­ical correctness.”

There has never been much danger of that. Only a month after his 85th birthday, Philip told a student who had been working in Romania: “There’s so many of those orphan­ages over there you feel they breed them just to put them in orphanages.”

Occa­sion­ally it back­fires but usually his comments are intended to provoke a lively discus­sion or just a good laugh.

On a walk­about in Bromley, Kent, earlier this year he spotted 90-​​year-​​old Barbara Dubery sitting in a wheel­chair, wrapped in a foil blanket to fend off the cold. “Are they going to put you in the oven next?” asked Philip.

Trib­utes to the Queen and Philip from MPs in her Diamond Jubilee have produced some good material. Earlier this year it emerged that when Stoke-​​on-​​Trent North MP Joan Walley told Philip at a recep­tion which city she repres­ented, the Duke’s reply was: “Ghastly place, isn’t it?”

After glan­cing at busi­ness chief Atul Patel’s name badge during a 2009 Palace recep­tion for 400 influ­en­tial British Indians he remarked: “There’s a lot of your family in tonight.”

In Hull in the same year he met victims of bad floods, including many who had lost their homes. Bidding farewell to the city council leader Carl Minns, he is alleged to have said: “Keep your head above water.”

There are tales of incred­ible rude­ness in the face of polite but admit­tedly some­times stupid ques­tions from people trying to be polite. An offi­cial at a Cana­dian airport, for example, asked him: “What was your flight like Your Royal Highness?”

Philip asked: “Have you ever flown in a plane?” The offi­cial replied: “Oh yes, Sir, many times.”

“Well, it was just like that,” the Duke responded witheringly.

Then at other times, he can be unorthodox and kind. The authors recount how when one butler Lynwood Westray mistakenly called him Your Majesty and offered him a drink at a 1979 White House recep­tion hosted by Pres­ident Jimmy Carter, Philip replied: “I’ll take one if you let me serve you. He then spent the next 15 minutes having a drink and a chat with Lynwood and another butler.

All in all, the impres­sion Philip gives is that he would much rather have had a life­time career in the Royal Navy but out of a sense of duty has devoted the last 60 years to supporting his wife.

At a 2006 Palace recep­tion honouring Australians, Philip met Joe Kerr, husband of Gill Hicks, who lost both legs in the July 2005 London bombings.

“You’re not Australian!” said Philip. “No, actu­ally I’m not important, I’m just here because of my wife,” said Joe.

“Tell me about it,” said Philip, walking off chuck­ling to himself.

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