The Corner


The Hilarious Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh

Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, walk at Broadlands in Romsey, England, in 2007. (Fiona Hanson/Pool/Reuters)

The Queen’s late spouse, who died at 99 on Friday, for more than half a century carried off with panache one of the world’s weirdest jobs. A great play could be written about how he approached the gig with a proper sense of amusement at being the Royal Consort and a refreshing conviction that he could say whatever crossed his mind since he wasn’t the sovereign, didn’t speak for the nation, and didn’t really matter.

A few of his one-liners that are making the rounds:

In Canada: “I declare this thing open, whatever it is.”

In Scotland, to a driving teacher: “How do you keep the natives off the booze long enough to get them through the test?”

In Hungary, to a British subject: “You can’t have been here that long — you haven’t got a pot belly.”

To a designer sporting a tiny goatee: “Well, you didn’t design your beard too well, did you?”

To a student who had visited Papua New Guinea: “You managed not to get eaten, then?”

When asked to pet a koala: “Oh no, I might catch some ghastly disease.”

About a failed plot to kidnap his daughter, Princess Anne: “If the man had succeeded in abducting Anne, she would have given him a hell of a time while in captivity.”

To a worker at a Mars bar factory who mentioned that she stripped and cut pieces by hand: “Most stripping is done by hand.”

On chivalry: “When a man opens a car door for his wife, it’s either a new car or a new wife.”

To a dictator in Paraguay: “It’s a pleasant change to be in a country that isn’t ruled by its people.”

At a school opening: “You send children to school to get them out of your hair. Then they come back and make life difficult for parents. That is why holidays are set so they are just about the limit of your endurance.”

In the Cayman Islands: “Aren’t most of you descended from pirates?”

To his own body as he turned 90: “Bits are beginning to drop off.”

On his “gaffes”: “I’ve just done what I think is my best. Some people think it’s all right. Some don’t. What can you do? I can’t suddenly change my whole way of doing things. I can’t change my interests and the way in which I react to things. It’s part of my style. It’s just too bad, they’ll have to lump it.”

On his own failings: “Tolerance is the one essential ingredient in any happy marriage. . . . You can take it from me, the Queen has the quality of tolerance in abundance.”

VIEW GALLERY: Prince Philip


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