A lifetime of privilege, gaffes and political incorrectness.
Tributes have been paid, from all over the world to the late Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Phillip Mountbatten, who passed away yesterday, aged 99. For those of us, who have been accustomed to his presence, all these years, we now speak of him in the past tense.
As is the case with international relations, where skillful diplomacy is the order of the day, these tributes, more often than not, tend to be dominated by anodyne statements and useless platitudes. As a point of reference, check out Barack Obama’s trending statement on this platform.
The Duke of Edinburgh, himself, was such a gift to the press pack, not because he was irascible from years of walking behind his wife, or at times cantankerous, but because he was so unpredictable and it was near impossible to know what was going to come out of his mouth and who would be the object of his insults.
What’s extraordinary here was that, he knew what he was doing — insulting people of colour, in Britain and in the wider commonwealth. And that by virtue of his position as her majesty’s husband, he would never be called upon to apologize for what should be seen as rabidly racist and bigoted comments.
And guess what? He never expressed regret nor formally apologized for his appalling comments, not once.
I have compiled a treasure trove of his comments below, with help from The Times newspaper, to provide some sort of insight into the kind of man he was.
To Jomo Kenyatta, during Kenya’s independence ceremony: Are you sure that you really want to go ahead with this?
To a number of British students in China on an exchange program: Try not to stay too long here, or you will go home with Slitty eyes.
To a Scottish driving instructor: How do you keep the natives off the booze long enough to pass the test
To a young female officer wearing a bullet-proof vest: You look like a suicide bomber
To a female sea cadet, on being told she worked in a nightclub: Is it a strip club?
To young deaf people in Cardiff referring to the school’s steel band: No wonder you are deaf.