A former Archbishop of York said it is a ‘pity’ the Duke of Edinburgh will be remembered for his gaffes because ‘behind those gaffes was an expectation of a comeback’ – but people were reluctant to provide one.
Dr John Sentamu said the duke was always looking for robust debate and for someone to challenge him.
But people had sometimes been ‘too deferential to Philip’ because of his status as the husband of the Queen, he said.
The life of Prince Philip has been celebrated at church services across Britain today – the third of eight days of national mourning.
The Duke of Edinburgh, died at Windsor Castle on Friday aged 99.
The Prince was well-known for his politically incorrect comments, several of which attracted significant attention.
Dr John Sentamu (pictured with the Queen and Philip in 2012) said it is a ‘pity’ the Duke of Edinburgh will be remembered for his gaffes because ‘behind those gaffes was an expectation of a comeback’ – but people refused to provide one
Dr John Sentamu (left) said the duke (right) was always looking for robust debate and for someone to challenge him.
But people had sometimes been ‘too deferential to Philip’ because of his status as the husband of the Queen, he said. Pictured: The Queen, Dr John Sentamu and Philip
‘I am sure he regretted some of those phrases, but in the end it is a pity that people saw him simply as somebody who makes gaffes,’ Dr Sentamu said.
‘Behind those gaffes was an expectation of a comeback but nobody came back and the gaffe unfortunately stayed.’
Dr Sentamu told BBC One’s The Andrew Marr Show on Sunday: ‘He would make an off-colour remark but if somebody challenged him you would enter into an amazing conversation.
‘The trouble was that, because he was the Duke of Edinburgh, the husband of the Queen, people had this deference.’
Dr Sentamu recalled an incident when he himself had made a joke about racism, and the duke had approached him and demanded: ‘Do you think that’s fair?’
He said the challenge had led to an in-depth discussion about what Philip was trying to achieve with the Duke of Edinburgh Award.
‘It was an eye-opener,’ Dr Sentamu said.
‘(The award) was in every country he had been to, and when he met young people – whether they were black, whether they were white, whether they were Asian – actually it didn’t make the slightest bit of difference, as long as they were given the opportunity to get on in life.’
Joanna Lumley pays tribute to ‘kind, funny and very sharp’ Prince Philip who ‘liked vigour and get-up-and-go, not whingers and moaners’
Joanna Lumley has paid tribute to the sharp wit and kindness of the Duke of Edinburgh.
The life of Prince Philip has been celebrated at church services across Britain today – the third of eight days of national mourning.
The Duke of Edinburgh, died at Windsor Castle on Friday. He was 99.
Speaking on the BBC‘s Andrew Marr Show today, actress and activist Joanna Lumley recounted times when she had the ‘great pleasure’ to have met Philip.
‘He was very kind, you know, I think that’s quite often overlooked,’ she said. ‘He was very funny and very sharp, but very kind.’
She added: ‘I think he liked vigour, he liked get-up-and-go. He didn’t like whingers and moaners, he liked people who challenged themselves.
‘And then for the very humble and the very frail and very nervous, I think he was kind.
‘The whole of the Duke of Edinburgh awards is to make people better, to make people see the best in themselves, and I think he did that when talking to people as well.’
She revealed that on one occasion when she was sat beside him at a function, another guest was discussing hunting, fishing and shooting. The duke then noticed Ms Lumley’s vegetarian meal, and politely changed the subject to include her.
She also spoke of Philip’s passion for the environment, adding: ‘When you think how far ahead he was in realising this perfect world we live in can only be ruined by human beings… he was always interested in those sorts of things, he was invigorating company.
‘Sometimes there could be a snap remark, but it was only out of interest and impatience.’
Dr Sentamu said Philip believed the majority of people who felt downtrodden had not been given real opportunity in life, and the award was intended to create a level playing field.
He said that with the duke ‘there were no conversations that were off limits’ and that Philip had also closely followed the inquiry into the death of Stephen Lawrence.
‘Whenever I met him we would get into a conversation – (about) something that he had been thinking about – and then he would also give a very robust reply,’ Dr Sentamu said.
Referring to the Lawrence inquiry, he said: ‘(Philip) came and ask me about how it all was and he said ‘You must have had a very tough time listening to evidence – it really was appalling’.
‘Then we had a conversation of about three or four minutes.’
He added: ‘There were areas we disagreed about but he loves a very good conversation and he doesn’t want you to let him off or for you to be let off.’
Dr Sentamu said the duke had also been very open and accepting of the fact that we live in an ever-changing world, and was wary of the word ‘reform’.
He recounted a conversation in which Philip told him: ‘Please look around you, everything is changing, nothing is static, and the only thing that is stable – the Earth – is still revolving around.’
Dr Sentamu said the duke believed the important thing was ‘to make sure that you are there to make a better change than a terrible one’.
He continued: ‘(Philip) would go for ‘change’ rather than ‘reform’ because he would say ‘I don’t know what that means, because the powerful are the ones that want reform, and who do they want to reform? The weaker people. But if we talk about change, all of us are involved in it.’
Friend of the Prince of Wales Sir Nicholas Soames echoed Dr Sentamu’s thoughts on Philip’s often notorious one-liners.
Speaking to Times Radio, the former Conservative MP said the duke ‘was someone who wanted to put people at ease’ and that often members of the public became ‘paralysed’ in the presence of royalty.
‘Actually what he was trying to do was to make a conversation and ease the moment, and to bring them into feeling that this was not an awe-inspiring occasion but something where he had come to meet people and to learn from them, and to listen to them,’ he said.
Sir Nicholas added: ‘So, whilst I absolutely understand the joy of the press in the so-called gaffes, there weren’t many of them, (and they were) for a purpose.
‘Some of them went a bit off piste, but, my God, whose doesn’t?’
One such incident saw Prince Philip say to Aboriginal leader William Brin in Queensland: ‘Do you still throw spears at each other?’
In another incident, he told a 13-year-old who wanted to go to space: ‘You’re too fat to be an astronaut.’
Dr Sentamu also said the the Duke of Edinburgh and the Queen’s marriage was so strong because they were ‘so deeply rooted in Jesus Christ’.
The former of archbishop of York said he and the duke had first discussed faith when Philip was deeply troubled about his children and their marriages.
Dr Sentamu said: ‘I think it was the ambassador’s dinner at Buckingham Palace and he really was feeling very, very sorry for some of the things that were happening in his family – particularly his sons.
‘He said, ‘What would you say to me about the trouble that was happening with all my family?’
‘I said, ‘Well, your royal highness, you are a family like any other family, and every family goes through good times and bad times.
The Queen has described the loss of the Duke of Edinburgh (pictured with the Queen in 2007) as ‘having left a huge void in her life’, according to Prince Andrew
”The important thing for me is that you should realise that if people are married they are not just a couple, there is a third and that’s Jesus Christ, and they should begin to go to Jesus Christ’.
‘He said, ‘Of course, the Queen and I are so strong in Jesus Christ’.’
Dr Sentamu said Philip had asked him to pray for his children and he had done so during the dinner.
He added: ‘There was this unbelievable depth of his rootedness, because (Philip) was so rooted in Christ, he didn’t have any problem in relating to people about their faith or people who didn’t believe at all.
‘His faith was so strong, rooted in Christ, rooted in reality, rooted in his family, that actually he could be a free person.
‘I have not met a couple that are so free – Her Majesty is exactly the same.’
Dr Sentamu said he had prayed with the Queen and Philip, adding their prayers were never said aloud but ‘both of them would say amen’.
He described it as ‘the most unbelievable experience’.
The former archbishop said the royal family are proving they are no ‘different in grief to anybody else’ by keeping to a small funeral for the duke.
‘They want to be part of the grieving for the nation, for the many people who died from Covid-19 and for those who have not been able to be present when their loved one is being buried.’
Dr Sentamu joked that Philip would have appreciated his shortened funeral service, because ‘the duke could not stand what he called ‘long church’.
Diplomacy be damned! How Prince Philip’s one-liners brightened up his (and our) day… but his critics called them gaffes
His incredible energy and sense of public duty saw Prince Philip through countless official engagements over the course of his 73-year marriage. Yet it is the unashamedly politically incorrect comments he made on such occasions which attracted most attention. Here is a selection of the most memorable…
ON STATE VISITS
‘You look like you’re ready for bed!’
To the President of Nigeria, wearing traditional robes, in 2003.
‘Do you still throw spears at each other?’
To Aboriginal leader William Brin in Queensland, 2002.
To Aboriginal leader William Brin in Queensland, 2002: ‘Do you still throw spears at each other?’
‘You managed not to get eaten then?’
To a British student trekking in Papua New Guinea, during an official visit in 1998.
‘Aren’t most of you descended from pirates?’
In the Cayman Islands, 1994.
‘I’ll tell you a secret — we’re all Christians!’
To the Roman Catholic bishop of Malta in 2015.
To the Roman Catholic bishop of Malta in 2015: ‘I’ll tell you a secret — we’re all Christians!’
‘I would like to go to Russia very much — although the bastards murdered half my family.’
In 1967, when asked if he would like to visit the Soviet Union.
‘It’s a vast waste of space.’
To guests at the opening of a new £18m British Embassy in Berlin in 2000.
‘You can’t have been here that long — you haven’t got a pot belly.’
To a British tourist during a tour of Budapest in 1993.
‘How do you keep the natives off the booze long enough to pass the test?’
To a Scottish driving instructor in 1995.
‘It looks as though it was put in by an Indian.’
His verdict on a messy-looking fuse box on a tour of a Scottish factory in 1999. He later explained: ‘I meant to say cowboys. I just got my cowboys and Indians mixed up.’
Verdict on Beijing in 1986.
‘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.’
To a meeting of the World Wildlife Fund in 1986.
‘If you stay here much longer, you will go home with slitty eyes.’
To a British student on a visit to China in 1986.
ON MULTICULTURAL BRITAIN
‘There’s a lot of your family in tonight.’
After noticing business leader Atul Patel’s name badge during a reception for 400 influential British Indians in 2009.
‘The Philippines must be half empty — you’re all here running the NHS.’
To a Filipino nurse in Luton in 2015.
To a Filipino nurse in Luton in 2015: ‘The Philippines must be half empty — you’re all here running the NHS’
‘Are you all one family?’
Said to mixed-race dance troupe Diversity in 2009.
‘British women can’t cook.’
To the Scottish Women’s Institute in 1961.
‘Ah, so this is feminist corner then.’
To female Labour MPs in 2000.
‘You ARE a woman, aren’t you?’
To a Kenyan woman in 1984.
‘If it doesn’t fart or eat hay, she isn’t interested.’
On daughter, Princess Anne.
‘When a man opens the car door for his wife, it’s either a new car or a new wife.’
‘I would get arrested if I unzipped that dress!’
After spotting 25-year-old Hannah Jackson’s red dress in Bromley in 2012.
After spotting 25-year-old Hannah Jackson’s red dress in Bromley in 2012: ‘I would get arrested if I unzipped that dress!’
‘What do you gargle with — pebbles?’
To Tom Jones, after the Royal Variety Performance, 1969.
‘Oh, it’s you that owns that ghastly car is it? We often see it when driving to Windsor Castle.’
To neighbour Elton John after hearing he had sold his Watford FC-themed Aston Martin in 2001.
‘I wish he’d turn the microphone off!’
During Elton’s performance at the Royal Variety Show, 2001.
ON FOOD AND DRINK
‘Get me a beer. I don’t care what kind it is, just get me a beer!’
On being offered fine Italian wines in Rome in 2000.
‘Don’t feed your rabbits pawpaw fruit — it acts as a contraceptive. Then again, it might not work on rabbits.’
To a Caribbean rabbit breeder in Anguilla in 1994.
‘You’re too fat to be an astronaut.’
To 13-year-old Andrew Adams who wanted to go into space
To 13-year-old Andrew Adams who wanted to go into space: ‘You’re too fat to be an astronaut.’
ON CLASS AND MONEY
‘People think there’s a rigid class system here, but dukes have been known to marry chorus girls. Some have even married Americans.’
Speaking in 2000 — 18 years before his grandson Harry married Meghan Markle.
‘If you travel as much as we do you appreciate the improvements in aircraft design of less noise and more comfort – provided you don’t travel in something called economy class, which sounds ghastly.’
To the Aircraft Research Association in 2002.
‘Everybody was saying we must have more leisure. Now they are complaining they’re unemployed.’
During the 1981 recession.
We go into the red next year … I shall have to give up polo.
On the Royal Family’s finances in 1969.
‘It looks like the kind of thing my daughter would bring back from her school art lessons.’
On an exhibition of ‘primitive’ Ethiopian art in 1965.
ON THE PRESS
‘Just take the f***ing picture!’
At an event to mark the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Britain.
At an event to mark the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Britain: ‘Just take the f***ing picture!’
‘You have mosquitoes. I have the Press.’
To the matron of a hospital in the Caribbean.