01:37 - Source: CNN
Prince Philip: The man behind the Queen
London CNN —  

Prince Philip, the longest-serving consort of a reigning British monarch, will retire from public engagements this autumn.

The 95-year-old husband of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II has held a plethora of official titles throughout his life, but in the British media he’s earned the unofficial moniker of “Prince of Gaffes.”

The Prince himself has noted his expertise in “dontopedalogy – the science of opening your mouth and putting your foot in it.”

It is, he says, something he has “practiced for a good many years.”

Here are some of his more memorable moments:

  • During a royal visit to China in 1986, Philip described Beijing as “ghastly” and told British students: “If you stay here much longer you’ll all be slitty-eyed.” He also quipped: “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.”
Queen Elizabeth ll and Prince Philip visit The Great Wall of China in 1986.
Anwar Hussein/Getty Images
Queen Elizabeth ll and Prince Philip visit The Great Wall of China in 1986.
  • In 1995, Philip took up a British stereotype that Scots enjoy a drink or two, to ask a Scottish driving instructor: “How do you keep the natives off the booze long enough to pass the test?”
  • In 1996, he was interviewed on BBC radio as the UK government was about to ban ownership of handguns bigger than a .22 caliber. The measure followed the school massacre in Dunblane, Scotland, in which 16 children were killed. He expressed his sympathy to victims’ families but questioned the planned restriction: “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?”
  • During a 1998 official visit to a British student who had been trekking in Papua New Guinea, Prince Philip asked: “You managed not to get eaten, then?” in an apparent reference to the historic belief that cannibalism had been practiced on the South Pacific islands.
  • In 2002, he shocked a Bangladeshi teenager at a London youth club by saying the 14-year-old “looks as if he is on drugs.”
  • The same year, Philip reportedly asked British Indian Labor MP Parmjit Dhanda – a former student and trade union official – what he did before becoming a politician, and then commenting: “So you didn’t do anything then.”
  • Also in 2002, he is reported to have asked Australian Aborigines: “Do you still throw spears at each other?”
Prince Philip toasts then Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo in  Abuja, Nigeria in 2003.
Prince Philip toasts then Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo in Abuja, Nigeria in 2003.
  • In 2003, Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip went to open the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Abuja, Nigeria. It was the Queen’s first visit in 47 years. Greeted by Nigeria’s then President Olusegun Obasanjo, who was wearing traditional robes, Philip quipped: “You look like you’re ready for bed.”
  • In 2009, he told an Indian executive named Atul Patel: “There’s a lot of your family here tonight,” after seeing his name badge during a Buckingham Palace reception to honor 400 influential British Indians. Patel is a common surname in India.

Prince Philip’s 90th birthday, in 2011, prompted newspapers to match his years with an equivalent list of faux pas.

In the House of Commons, the then prime minister David Cameron also paid tribute to the Prince as “a king among characters.”

“Humor is a great part of British life and we thank the Duke for his unique contribution.”