The Sunday Post (Inverness)
So why did the Duke get so many people’s dander up?
It was June 2, 1968, and a Sunday Post headline was asking the question that would be asked again as Prince Philip travelled the world: Why does the Duke get so many people’s dander up?
The article was written after the Duke had ruffled feathers again – this time on a trip to New Zealand – but, a week before the royal turned 47, our royal correspondent (rightly) concluded anyone hoping he might curb his outspoken demeanour would hope in vain. The summary of Prince Philip’s character and personality was written more than 50 years ago but could have been written at any time since – a testament to his strength of character and independence of spirit.
The writer concludes: “He regards himself as an independent voice that people might listen to. He has said: ‘I try to say something I hope might be of interest or at least constructive. I have no axe to grind and nothing to sell. The line I take is my own.’ He sees himself as a galvaniser, someone who can start the ball rolling towards getting things done.
“He feels if he says what he honestly believes to be right then it’s up to people to take it or leave it.”
The Duke of Edinburgh often livened up formal occasions with his one-liners directed at everyone from learner drivers from Oban, the Staffordshire town of Stoke-on-trent – which he branded “ghastly” – and even the Queen.
But royal butler turned etiquette expert Grant Harrold said the comments were never a mistake and, instead, the Duke was using humour to put people at ease. Harrold, from Airdrie, who was a butler for Prince Charles from 2004 to 2011, said Philip had an old-fashioned sense of humour which was not intended to offend and was meant to break the ice and settle people’s nerves if they were anxious in the presence of royalty. He said: “When Prince Philip made these jokes, people think he’d made a gaffe or he’d made a mistake but he hadn’t made a mistake, he knew exactly what he was doing. “He was always on the ball. He said things that could sound wrong but the point was the way he did it was you couldn’t ever say anything other than that he was trying to be comical. It was old-fashioned humour but even when he made a gaffe, even when it was about people from other countries, no one took offence. That was what was so lovely. It was just his manner and his humour. “It was his way of making people hopefully feel comfortable.”