Taxi Noir: Prince Philip’s Greatest Hits
The Duke made many humorous comments and jokes in his 99 years. Some are referred to as gaffes. He wasn’t the most diplomatic of people, and he said it as he saw it. Sure, were he not the Queen’s husband he would have been sent on diversity training. Some people may have been offended, but most laughed along with his irreverent wit and cultural stereotyping – after all, most jokes rely on some form of stereotyping. Many of us secretly wish we could get away with poking fun at authority too, but not all of us can. Phil will be remembered as the man who said the things we were thinking.
One of his early gags was “British women can’t cook” in 1966. A cheap attempt at humour; but like any good comedian, he honed his art and his material got stronger with practice. I particularly like the jokes about his own family. Here then, is my personal Top Ten:
“Yak, yak, yak; come on, get a move on.” Shouted from the deck of the royal yacht Britannia to the Queen, who was chatting to her hosts on the quayside in Belize (1994).
When an armed man tried to kidnap the Princess Royal in 1974, Philip suggested the kidnappers would have taken on more than they could chew: “If the man had succeeded in abducting Anne, she would have given him a hell of a time while in captivity.”
Philip mentioned Anne again, referring to her love of horses: “If it doesn’t fart or eat hay, she’s not interested.”
On seeing plans for the Duke and Duchess of York’s house at Sunninghill Park in 1988: “It looks like a tart’s bedroom.”
The Duke discusses marriage: “When a man opens a car door for his wife, it’s either a new car or a new wife.”
“I declare this thing open, whatever it is.” (Canada, 1969).
“So, who’s on drugs here?… He looks as if he’s on drugs.” Referring to a fourteen-year-old boy at a Bangladeshi youth club in 2002.
“Do you still throw spears at each other?” A question was put to aborigines in Australia, also in 2002.
“You look like you’re ready for bed!” Here, Philip’s speaking to the President of Nigeria who was dressed in traditional robes (2003).
To a Cayman Islands resident in 1994: “Aren’t most of you descended from pirates?”
Keeping up the cultural stereotypes, he congratulated a student who’d been trekking in Papua New Guinea by asking “You managed not to get eaten then?” (1998).
Nearer to home, he asked a driving instructor in Oban, Scotland: “How do you keep the natives off the booze long enough to get them through the test?” (1995).
I’ll finish with an oft-quoted one-liner made in response to being asked “Do you have a criminal record, sir?” on arrival in Australia. The story goes that Philip replied: “I had no idea it was still a requirement.” I’ve found no evidence he actually said this, but it’s a nice story. Then again, he’s said a few amusing things in Australia. Maybe he knows they have a similar sense of humour to the British? (note there are few recorded jokes made in the USA).
Eagle-eyed readers may notice there are well over ten comments listed above. I’m just exercising my right not to conform. I like to think it’s what the Duke would have wanted.