Prince Philip's most shocking royal scandals over the years

Prince Philip has died aged 99, the royal family confirmed. He passed away on Friday morning (local time) at Windsor Castle.

Here we look back at some of his biggest gaffes and royals scandals over the years:

Rumours about Prince Philip

Rumours circulated for years about the affairs Prince Philip was reported to have had, but it was never confirmed that he was unfaithful to the Queen.

In 1957, a US paper ran a story with the headline “Report Queen, Duke in Rift Over Party Girl,” with a story about how Prince Philip was allegedly “romantically involved with an unnamed woman whom he met on a regular basis in the West End apartment of a society photographer.” Unusually, Buckingham Palace responded to the piece, releasing a statement saying: “It is quite untrue that there is any rift between the Queen and the Duke.”

Britain's Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh reacts as he talks with Britain's Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex as they leave St George's Chapel in Windsor Castle, Windsor, west of London, on May 18, 2019, after the wedding of Lady Gabriella Windsor and Thomas Kingston.
Prince Philip was involved in his fair share of scandals over the years. Photo: Getty Images.

In the book Queen Elizabeth II: Her Life in Our Times, royal biographer Sarah Bradford said: “The women he goes for are always younger than him, usually beautiful, and highly aristocratic … He has affairs and the Queen accepts it.”

Prince Philip denied ever being unfaithful, once saying: “How could I? I’ve had a detective in my company, night and day, since 1947.”

The Profumo affair

The Profumo Affair was one of the biggest British political scandals of the 20th century. John Profumo was the UK’s secretary of state, who had an affair with model and sex worker Christine Keeler. Stephen Ward was an osteopath, artist and soviet ally, who worked with a soviet spy to get Keeler to extract information from Profumo.

Prince Philip was a friend of Ward’s who had painted Prince Philip and Princess Margaret. Ward was eventually charged with “living off immoral earnings” and sold his artworks of the royals to fund his trial. He committed suicide before the end of his trial in 1963. It was believed, although never confirmed that an associate of Philip’s, Anthony Blunt, tried to buy the paintings off Ward to save the reputation of the royals.

Was Prince Philip the naked waiter?

Prince Philip was a member of the exclusive lunch club, the Thursday Club, who were notorious for having wild parties. In the early 60s, there was a photo taken of a man, naked from behind apart from a skimpy lace apron, serving drinks to other club members. It was rumoured to be Philip, and although there was no concrete evidence to suggest it was him, Private Eye magazine referred to Philip for a long time as “The Naked Waiter.”

The Duke Of Edinburgh And The Duchess Of York At Easter Service At Windsor Circa 1990s
The Duke Of Edinburgh reportedly had a long-running feud with his ex-daughter-in-law, Sarah 'Fergie' Ferguson. Photo: Getty Images.

He had a long-running feud with Fergie

When Sarah Ferguson first married Prince Andrew, she was reportedly Prince Philip’s favourite daughter-in-law. When Fergie and Andrew’s marriage became strained, she still holidayed with the royal family and remained close within royal circles. But everything changed in 1992.

Fergie was staying at Balmoral with the Queen and Prince Philip, when she was pictured on the front of British newspaper having her toes sucked by American businessman John Bryan. Prince Philip reportedly came downstairs with a copy of the paper, handed it to Fergie and said “There but for the grace of God go I.”

After Fergie and Andrew divorced, Fergie was in trouble with the law after being accused of trying to sell access to Andrew for cash. Any attempts by the royal family to intervene were reportedly blocked by Philip.

In 2013, Fergie, who remains on friendly terms with Andrew, was reportedly invited back to Balmoral, on the condition she leave once Prince Philip arrived. When Prince Philip attended Princess Eugenie’s wedding in 2018, he agreed to be in a family photo – the first one he and Fergie had been in together for 26 years.

Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh seen driving his Land Rover on day 5 of the Royal Windsor Horse Show in Home Park on May 13, 2018 in Windsor, England. This year marks the 75th Anniversary of the Windsor Horse Show which was first held in 1943.
Prince Philip, pictured behind the wheel in 2018, had a serious car crash the following year. Photo: Getty Images.

He crashed his car – and then drove dangerously again

In January 2019, Prince Philip, who was then 97, was driving his Land Rover out of a driveway at Sandringham estate when he crashed into another car and flipped his vehicle. The car was carrying a driver, an adult passenger who broke her wrist in the crash, and a nine-month-old baby. Philip was helped out of his car by a passer-by and was not prosecuted.

Two days after the crash he was seen behind the wheel of a new car on a public road without wearing a seatbelt. Three weeks later he gave up his driving licence. A statement from Buckingham Palace said: “After careful consideration, the Duke of Edinburgh has taken the decision to voluntarily surrender his driving licence.”

Inappropriate comments

Prince Philip became known for his inappropriate comments. On a visit to China in 1986, he told a British student: “If you stay here much longer, you will go home with slitty eyes.”

In 1998 he said to another British backpacker who had trekked through Papua New Guinea: "You managed not to get eaten then?“

During a 2002 visit to the Aboriginal Cultural Park in Queensland, he asked Aboriginal leader William Brin: “Do you still throw spears at each other?”

The Duke of Edinburgh talks to Aboriginal performers after watching a culture show at Tjapukai Aboriginal Culture Park, Cairns, Queensland, Australia. The Duke surprised the aborigines when he asked them
On a 2002 Australian tour, the Duke asked an Indigenous Australian performer, "Do you still throw spears at each other?" Photo: Getty Images.

“You are a woman, aren't you?” he asked a woman in Kenya in 1984. At a drinks party in 2000, he commented to a group of female Labour MPs whose name badges read "Ms" that “this is feminist corner then.” When he was with Scottish Tory leader Annabel Goldie in 2010, they were looking at tartan made for the Pope. “Do you have any knickers in that material?” he asked her.

He disliked many celebrities

When Prince Philip spoke to Elton John in 2001 about Elton’s Aston Martin that was painted in the colours of Watford football club, Philip said: “Oh, it's you that owns that ghastly car is it?” Upon hearing Sir Elton’s performance at the Royal Variety Show later on, he was heard commenting: “I wish he'd turn the microphone off.”

When Philip was told Madonna would be singing the theme tune for James Bond in 2002, he asked: “Are we going to need ear plugs?”

When he met Cate Blanchett in 2008, he was told she worked “in the film industry,” so asked her: "Can you fix my DVD player? There’s a cord sticking out of the back. Might you tell me where it goes?”

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