Britain's Prince Philip adds to his list of gaffes

PUBLISHED : Friday, 22 February, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 22 February, 2013, 3:22am


Britain's Prince Philip told a Filipino nurse that her country "must be half empty - you're all here running the NHS [the tax-funded National Health Service]" - in a demonstration that his ability to raise eyebrows remains undiminished at the age of 91.

The Duke of Edinburgh made the comment during a visit to Luton and Dunstable University Hospital to open a £5.5 million [HK$65 million] cardiac centre. The nurse appeared to take the comment in good humour and laughed before the duke moved on.

Prince Philip told a Filipino nurse that her country "'must be half empty - you're all here running the NHS'

The visit was his first engagement of the year after his Christmas break at Sandringham. A spokeswoman for the hospital described the royal visit as a huge boost for staff morale.

The duke described himself as being in a jovial mood, adding that he was the "world's most experienced curtain puller".

The duke is renowned for making gaffes during his public appearances. He famously told British students during a 1986 state visit to China: "If you stay here much longer, you'll all be slitty-eyed."

He also once told a group of deaf youngsters: "Deaf? If you are near there, no wonder you are deaf," referring to a school's steel band.

In 1995 he asked a Scottish driving instructor: "How do you keep the natives off the booze long enough to pass the test?"

He also caused controversy in 1999 in Edinburgh when he saw an untidy fuse box during a tour of a factory.

"It looks as though it was put in by an Indian," he said.

Buckingham Palace rarely comments on Prince Philip's jokes. A spokesman said: "We do not comment on any private conversations."

The Nursing and Midwifery Council said 16,184 of the 670,000 nurses in Britain are from the Philippines - which has a population of 94.8 million.