Philip: Still Knocking The Natives

Prince Philip turns 90 today. He is still insulting “natives” around the world, and making no apologies for it. This is a man who, upon meeting the President of Nigeria, resplendent in ceremonial robes, remarked, “”You look like you’re ready for bed,” and who, not that many years ago, while talking to a Scottish driving instructor, wondered, “How do you keep the natives off the booze long enough to get them through the test?” Of course, as Quentin Crisp and, more recently, Betty White, have reminded us, if you live long enough you can say anything and get away with it. And so Prince Philip, who was of course born Greek and Danish and German, can insult all manner of non-English — can ask Aborigines in Australia: “Do you still throw spears at each other?” — and once more emerge coated in Teflon. As Ben McIntyre sums it up nicely in the London Times: “While most people do not find the Prince’s jokes amusing in themselves, by cleaving to this ancient, creaking form of humour, he has cemented his status as a national comic treasure…Rather magnificently, the Duke of Edinburgh knows perfectly well that we are not amused and he couldn’t care less, which makes him, inadvertently, one of the funniest men alive.”

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