Monday, February 18, 2008

In defence of Prince Philip

. Monday, February 18, 2008

By Karan Thapar, The Hindustan Times (h/t: Theodore Harvey)

Do you know what ‘dontopedology’ means? According to Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, it's “the science of opening your mouth and putting your foot in it.” He should know because he’s acquired quite a skill at it. But, to tell you the truth, I admire him because he’s often right. It’s just that his audience — or his critics — are paralyzed by political correctness, lack of wit or both.

To begin with, the dear Duke can be very wise. Consider this selection: “The art of being a good guest is to know when to leave”; “I don't think a prostitute is more moral than a wife, but they are doing the same thing”; and “When a man opens a car door for his wife, it’s either a new car or a new wife.” He’s even said things that should please Sunita Narain and RK Pachauri: “The biggest waste of water in the country is when you spend half a pint and flush two gallons".

The D of E can also be delightfully witty. Immediately after his wife’s coronation he’s supposed to have said: “Where did you get that hat?” Asked how he handles so many public appearances, he shot back: “I never pass up a chance to go to the loo or take a poo”. And on hearing Tom Jones sing, he asked: “What do you gargle with, pebbles?”

What gets the Prince into trouble is his candour. Quite frankly I find it disarming and refreshing, but I can see how it could rile others. When questioned if he wanted to visit the Soviet Union, he responded: “The bastards murdered half my family.” He was dead right. The Tsarevitch was his mother’s first cousin. Commenting on the necessity of a university degree, he said: “I’m one of those stupid bums who never went to university and a fat lot of harm it’s done me.” Except, he was Chancellor of Cambridge University at the time.

And faced with the rising tide of sentiment against the British monarchy in the 70s, this is how he tackled the problem: “If people feel it has no further part to play, then, for goodness sake, let’s end the thing on amicable terms without having a row about it.”

Of course, there are several occasions when PP ends up making you squirm, blush or fume. But might you not have been tempted to say the same, assuming you had the gall or gumption? Judge for yourself:

When he met the President of Nigeria, dressed in his traditional flowing agbada, the old boy remarked: “You look like your ready for bed!” After a lavish French dinner — possibly at the Elyseé — he commented: “French cooking’s all very well, but they can’t do a decent English breakfast.” Asked about a carpark attendant who failed to recognize him, he muttered: “Bloody silly fool.” In Australia, on meeting an aborigine, he asked: “Do you still throw spears at each other?” In the Cayman Islands, he said to an original resident: “Aren’t most of you descended from pirates?” And, finally, on Canada, a country his wife happens to be Queen of: “We don’t come here for our health. We can think of other ways of enjoying ourselves.”

The best part is that the Queen’s husband isn’t intimidated by celebrities. In fact, he seems to delight in putting them in their place. For instance, when he discovered Elton John owned a gold Aston Martin, he said: ‘Oh, it’s you that owns that ghastly car — we often see it when driving to Windsor Castle.” At the premiere of the James Bond film Die Another Day, where Madonna sings the theme song, he pointedly asked: “Do we need ear plugs?”

Quite honestly, I applaud the man. It’s not that he isn’t aware of how his comments are used to send him up. He knows they can — and do — boomerang. But I suspect he couldn’t care less. Now, how many of us have that sort of confidence? And it isn’t easier if you’re the Queen’s consort. Arguably, it’s more difficult.


Sir Walter Scott said...

His prostitute remark is certainly dubious. I suggest context would illuminate it: he probably delivered it in a highly self-aware, facetious fashion. His life and marriage to the Queen, of all people, records a different opinion to the one of that quote. That should be enough for us.

But other than that, I think he's quite hilarious, actually - very sharp, very sound, cutting the PC mindset to the quick, whenever the feeling takes him. He is the secret love of every republican's heart. Who wouldn't want to be so dutiful and sharp - with so much elan and humour - for so prolonged a time in the media and public's glare?

I doubt any of the groups apparently insulted in his remarks actually were offended. Any offense felt will be the vicarious sort, dwelt on and delighted in by white, middle-class poseurs a thousand miles away.

By the way: could you try to be more civil, please?

Viscount Feldon said...

Prince Philip, unfortunately, is a victim of what happens when the spoken word is translated into the printed word. One can only communicate so much in print.

Lord Best said...

As much as I admire the man, some of his comments are more rude than witty, even if delivered in a friendly and jocular manner. But as far as I am concerned, all can be forgive if he continnues to put vapid celebrities in their place.

Beaverbrook said...

Prince Philip is one of my contemporary heroes, and reminds me very much of my own late grandfather. The author is right: those who are offended by the Prince are either paralyzed by political correctnes and/or a lack of wit. He doesn't venture down the road of politics like his eldest son, it's always something delightfully upfront and personal, some indiscrete taboo one enjoys hearing in private. He would be remarkable company at the dinner table, and even more remarkable as a companion enjoying fireside chat over brandy and cigars.

Prior to the Boomer generation, all men were of such candour and/or quality, and unfortunately we're way past the point of even knowing what we'll be missing when they're all gone. God bless the Old Guard.

David Byers said...

If any man made comparisons to “prostitutes” and “a wife” to me he would command no respect from me no matter who he was, that has nothing to do with “political correctness” or what ever else anyone might say, it is to do to the respect a man owes to his wife and to his mother. I can’t speak for you father Beaverbrook but I know my grandfather would be as shocked as I am about hearing this remark. It is not just that remark Prince Philip is simply a parasitic fool who benefits no one least of all his wife our beloved Sovereign. As I have said on many occasions he is the Australian Republicans best asset. However Australia’s only link is to the Sovereign – thank GOD and not the other hangers on, I suppose Monarchist in Australia must inform people of that fact more often because as long as people hear believe a fool like “Phil the Greek” has a role in our great nation than the Crown is doomed.

David Byers said...

Scott the "man" that hs not the guts to write under his real name, when you say "I doubt any of the groups apparently insulted in his remarks actually were offended. Any offense felt will be the vicarious sort, dwelt on and delighted in by white, middle-class poseurs a thousand miles away." How on earth can you talk for me? You don't know what is in my heart. Typical English no real passion.

Sir Walter Scott said...

I only write under an assumed name because that is the style of the website. You'll notice everyone else does too. It is the decision of our venerable host Beaverbrook, and I wouldn't have it any other way.

Frankly I'm a little tired of your behaviour on here. Please don't talk to me or anyone else in such a petulant manner. Control yourself.

David Byers said...

Using a word like "petulant" typical looking down your nose and pretending to take the high ground. Still no real name? I'll leave you with "Phil the Greek".

My point still is that the Crown works better in Australia than the UK, we have a writern constitution were ONLY the Sovereign has any sort of role, not the hangers on.

Sir Walter Scott said...

Still no real name? Well, I'm not sure you've done much to deserve such confidence, frankly. I am not in the habit of passing personal information on to discourteous loudmouths.

I don't make a secret of it, anyway. It's there for all to find, if they wish.

David Byers said...

Loudmouth, what a strange thing to write as you have never heard me talk? I get the feeling your from the UK from the way you view the Crown. Am I right?

Viscount Feldon said...

Sometimes I wonder if the Duke has even said half of the things ascribed to him. He seems like the kind of person that all kinds of quotes can be attributed to, and given the nature of his position he would most likely never make a correction to such lists.

David Byers said...

Viscount Feldon, I hope your right! However the things I know he has said is enough for me to be put off the man big time. Probably comes from that generation of man who feel threatened being married to a woman who has authority, you know the type the ones who don’t like having a wife who earns more than them.

Stauffenberg said...

Prince Philip deserves a toast. Just look at his stoical dignity in the face of the ludicrous Fayed allegations. Notwithstanding some dubious quips, HRH is witty and self-deprecating, and as Viscount Feldon rightly states, he is in a position where the dignity of his role prevents him from denying or confirming, let alone “contextualising”, remarks attributed to him – and that is irrespective of any constitutional role he may or may not have in any of the realms.

On reference to him as “Phil the Greek”. From my somewhat limited knowledge of the finer points of royal ancestry, The Duke of Edinburgh could just as well be referred too as Danish or German. Some republicans and certain sections of the media have shown a propensity to do so in the UK and, so it seems, in Australia, over the years. The family tree of any royal family tends to be a bit multicultural. Those not content would probably be better off with a nice president meeting narrow-minded criteria of national purity.

David Byers said...

Our link in Australia is only with the Monarch, thank goodness.

Pablo the Scot said...

Prince Philip is a jewel of the monarchy. Dedicated to the Queen, stalwart in defence of the Realm, steadfast in his opinions and beliefs. Everything that a man of honour should aspire to be.

Using a desparaging label of 'Phil the Greek' is unworthy of posters here. Have you actually met him David? Probably not, but I have and have noting but the deepest respect for him.

Sophia said...

I have found almost universally people I like seem to like Prince Philip. It's a wonderful test to see if someone is tediously humourless.

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Peers of the Realm: The decline and fall of the House of Lords - Charles A. Coulombe
Peter Hitchens: Get rid of the monarchy and you will get rid of a guardian of liberty


New York Times: Ever Backwards into the Royal Future
Peter Hitchens: People love the Queen...and the BBC hates us for it
Christopher Hitchens: An Anglosphere Future
Andrew Cusack: Republicanism is a traitor's game
Courageous Patrician: Rt Hon Ian Douglas Smith (1919-2007)
The Last Rhodesian: What began with Rhodes and ended with Ian?
Gentleman Journalist: The Lord Baron W.F. Deedes, 1913-2007
Not Amused: Blair's sinister campaign to undermine the Queen
Loyal Subject: Queen Elizabeth: A stranger in her own country
Reverence Deference: Bowing and Scraping Back in Tradition
Rex Murphy: Kennedy, Churchill, Lincoln - The rousing bon mot is no more
Gerald Warner: Don't shed a tear for Diana cult in its death throes
The End of Grandeur: Rich, chincy Canada puts Strathmore on the blocks
Confessions of a Republican Leftie: "The Queen charmed the pants off me"
The King's Own Calgary Regiment: Cpl. Nathan Hornburg is laid to rest
The Royal Gurkha Rifles: Prince William grieves the death of Major Roberts
Queensland Mounted Rifles: Trooper David Pearce, 41, killed in Afghanistan
The Order of Canada: 100 investitures later, Canada's highest honour turns 40
Prince Edward on Prince Edward Island: Troop's link to monarchy important
HER MAJESTY THE QUEEN: Unveils the UK Armed Forces Memorial
Great Britain: "A rotten borough with a banana monarchy" - by Europhile
Peers of the Realm: The decline and fall of the House of Lords - Charles A. Coulombe
Remembering 'Smithy': An obituary tour de force by Andrew Cusack here, here and here.
NOT AMUSED: Her Majesty The Queen in Right of Quebec not invited to Quebec's tercentenary