Well, it looks like my old friend Prince Philip is at it again.
Longtime readers of this column may remember that I’ve always been a big fan of Philip Mountbatten, Duke of Edinburgh, husband to Queen Elizabeth the Second, and thus prince consort of the United Kingdom. For one thing, his is an inspiring story. Like Michael Dukakis, he was born the son of Greek immigrants.
True, one of those immigrants was Prince Andrew of Greece, who, for some reason, was actually Danish. (Trying to figure out the interweaving bloodlines of European royalty can be a bit like trying to untangle a drawer full of headphone cords.)When his family was exiled from Greece, the plucky prince made hisway to Britain. There, he served in the Royal Navy, dropped all hisGreek titles like an old pair of worn-out socks, renamed himself Philip Mountbatten and married way, way up when he wooed and won then-Princess Elizabeth.
At first glance, the job of prince consort of the United Kingdom looks like a pretty sweet gig. The hours are easy, you’re married to one of the world’s richest women, and — here’s the part that really endears ol’ Phil to me — you can say pretty much any fool thing that comes into your head and no one can do squat about it.
Which brings us to Philip’s latest gaffe. While he and the missus were reviewing Royal Navy cadets, he happened to strike up a conversation with pretty 24-year-old female cadet, Elizabeth Rendle, who moonlights as a bartender.“I told him I worked in a club,” Rendle told the British newspaper the Daily Mail. “He then asked if it was a strip club. Obviously I said ‘No’, and then he said, ‘Oh, it’s a bit too cold today anyway.”
I’m not sure what that last bit was supposed to mean. Too cold? Very few strip clubs are outside. You’d think a prince would know these things.The amazing thing is, while remarks like this one usually lead to a storm of criticism in the British press, the people at whom the prince’s barbs are directed seem to take them in stride. “I don’t think he put his foot in it,” Rendle reassured reporters. “It was a joke and I didn’t take any offense. I think he was just putting people at their ease.”
Because nothing puts a young woman at ease like an 88-year-old man asking her if she takes off her clothes for money. Especially if the guy’s wife is right there. And she’s, you know, the queen.
Philip has become famous over the years for this sort of thing. Just recently, it came to light that seven years ago, the queen asked a 15-year-old cadet blinded in an IRA bombing how much sight he had left. Philip responded, “Not a lot, judging by the tie he’s wearing.”
My favorite is still the crack he made to a group of British students in China: “If it has got four legs and it is not a chair, if it has got two wings and it flies but is not an aeroplane, and if it swims and it is not a submarine, the Cantonese will eat it.”All of these have caused controversy to various degrees in Britain, but none of it seems to bother Crazy Phil. That’s just how he rolls.
In the insect kingdom, the drone bee wanders off and dies after impregnating the queen. The female praying mantis bites the male’s head off during mating to signify that his task on Earth is done.
Maybe the BBC, or even some American network, ought to give him his own sitcom. After all, curmudgeonly old dudes who say outrageous things are a staple of both British and American TV comedy. The guy’s a natural. He’s got years of experience, we know he can ad-lib, and he’s
got a built-in fan base.