We all say something stupid now and again. Luckily, most of us aren’t famous enough to have our every word snatched by media and highlighted for all the world to laugh or groan about.
One member of the royal family is seen as particularly gaffe-prone. Prince Philip, frequently in the news for some untactful pronouncement he has uttered, obviously realizes he has a problem in this area and has famously said, “Dontopedology is the science of opening your mouth and putting your foot in it, a science which I have practiced for a good many years.”
Philip wasn’t joking.
Here’s an example of one of his gaffes: “If it has got four legs and it is not a chair; if it has two wings and it flies but is not an airplane; and if it swims and is not a submarine, the Cantonese will eat it.”
When he officially opened the annex to Vancouver’s City Hall, he said, “I declare this thing open — whatever it is.”
London’s Tourism Bureau must have wanted to throttle the prince when he mused: “The problem with London is the tourists. They cause the congestion. If we could just stop tourism we could stop the congestion.”
Then, while visiting the Cayman Islands, he asked, “Aren’t most of you descended from pirates?”
He was at it again while addressing a conference of the Women’s Institute. “You know, British women can’t cook,” he said. “They are very good at decorating food and making it look attractive but they have an inability to cook.”
One of his worst foot-in-mouth moments came when speaking to a visiting French official, he remarked, “It’s too bad you sent your royal family to the guillotine, isn’t it?”
During a royal visit to Ottawa, he shared this thought with Canadians: “We don’t come here for our health. We can think of better ways of enjoying ourselves.”
Foot-in-mouth disease differs from that other language disability — the blooper. Bloopers occur when the tongue slips and causes this sort of word difficulty: “If you need assistance with your call, just dial one-one-three, and a cheerful call girl will be at your service,” and this one, heard on television, “Our midnight movie is Sinning in the Rain — er — Singing in the Rain.”
Prince Philip’s difficulties are the result of speaking without thinking.
Still, Philip isn’t the only member of the royal family to put his foot in his mouth. The Prince of Wales, Charles, after trying the water at St. Kilda Beach in Australia, remarked, “It’s like swimming in undiluted sewage.”
Even the queen has been known to say the wrong thing. She once observed, “Manchester. That’s not such a nice place.” And her grandmother, Queen Mary, while opening a park near Glasgow, stated, “It’s a beautiful park, but what a shame it’s surrounded by all those nasty houses.”
Let’s give Philip the final blunder. “I have never been to Burma and I have never even seen the place. I cannot say I am very sorry.”
(Sources: Foolish Words; Book of Insults & Irreverent Quotations; All Time Great Bloopers; Oops!)