(Telegraph) ‘I am rude but it’s fun’: Prince Philip in his own words
Prince Philip may be one of the most controversial royals, but he’s also by far the funniest. In 2015 a book of stories about the Duke of Edinburgh by Nigel Cawthorne, ‘I know I am rude, but it’s Fun: The Royal Family and the World at Large – as Seen by Prince Philip‘ – was published.
The book gives context to some of Prince Philip’s best known gaffes, but also reveals some lesser-known anecdotes. Here are some of the Duke’s greatest moments compiled in Cawthorne’s book:
On his manners
At the age of twenty-one, he wrote to a relative whose son had just been killed in the war, saying: ‘I know you will never think much of me. I am rude and unmannerly and I say many things out of turn which I realise afterwards must have hurt someone. Then I am filled with remorse and I try to put matters right.’
On his status as husband to the Queen:
The duke’s biographer Gyles Brandreth asked him how he thought he was seen. ‘I don’t know,’ he said. ‘A refugee husband, I suppose.’ Philip complained to a friend: ‘I’m nothing but a bloody amoeba. I am the only man in the country not allowed to give his name to his children.
On the importance of charters
In 1958, presenting a Charter of Incorporation to St Edmund Hall, Oxford, Philip said: ‘In five hundred years from now, you will be able to put the charter on display and say that it was presented five hundred years ago.
He strongly advised them to look after the charter ‘because, throughout history, a document of some sort had always been looked upon as a sort of passport to respectability and, without it, you will never be able to prove – whatever it is you want to prove.’
On modernising Buckingham Palace
He also tackled the age-old custom of the bottle of whisky that appeared by the Queen’s bedside every night, even though she had not ordered it. He discovered that Queen Victoria had once had a cold and had asked for a Scotch before bedtime. As the order had never been rescinded, the servants continued to bring whisky every night some eighty years later.
Prince Philip was never much taken in by his opulent surroundings. ‘In the first years of the Queen’s reign, the level of adulation – you wouldn’t believe it,’ he said. ‘You really wouldn’t. It could have been corroding. It would have been very easy to play to the gallery, but I took a conscious decision not to do that. Safer not to be too popular. You can’t fall too far.’