‘Who do you sponge off?,’ Prince Philip asks London community workers | CNN


Story highlights

Prince Philip reportedly asked a group of female community workers: “Who do you sponge off?”

The comments come just a week after he swore at a photographer at an event

The 94-year-old has a long history of blunt remarks at official engagements


The Duke of Edinburgh lived up to his reputation as the “prince of gaffes” during a visit to a London community center Thursday, local media reported.

Prince Philip reportedly asked a group of female community workers in east London: “Who do you sponge off?” “Sponging” is a British expression meaning obtaining money from others without doing anything in return.

The prince was accompanying the Queen to the official opening of the Chadwell Heath Community Center in Dagenham.

The Queen had been presented with a sponge cake at the center, local media reported.

Prince Philip also reportedly asked the women: “Do you meet to have a gossip?”

The comments come just a week after the 94-year-old made headlines for swearing at a photographer at an event to mark the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Britain.

The prince, appearing irritated, was filmed sniping at a photographer: “Just take the f***ing picture!”

Known for his irascible nature and blunt, politically incorrect sense of humor, the former naval officer has racked up a lengthy string of faux pas at official engagements over the decades.

As long ago as the 1960s, he insulted the women of his country with the remark, “British women can’t cook.”

In the decades since, he has only upped the ante.

In 1986, Philip made a number of remarks that offended many Chinese.

Notoriously, on an official visit to China, he told a group of British exchange students: “If you stay here much longer you’ll all be slitty-eyed.”

His verdict on the Chinese capital? “Ghastly.”

The same year, he told a World Wildlife Fund meeting that “if it has got four legs and it is not a chair, if it has got two wings and flies but is not an aeroplane and if it swims and it is not a submarine, the Cantonese will eat it.”

In 1998, he asked a British student who had been trekking in Papua New Guinea: “You managed not to get eaten then?”

And four years later, while touring Australia with the Queen, he reportedly asked a group of Aborigines: “Do you still throw spears at each other?”

He has ruffled feathers closer to home as well.

In 1995, the Duke reportedly asked a Scottish driving instructor in Oban: “How do you keep the natives off the booze long enough to pass the test?”

A year later, following Scotland’s Dunblane massacre, in which 16 schoolchildren and a teacher were killed by a gunman, he questioned the need for a firearms ban, drawing criticism from politicians.

“If a cricketer, for instance, suddenly decided to go into a school and batter a lot of people to death with a cricket bat, which he could do very easily, I mean, are you going to ban cricket bats?” Prince Philip was quoted as asking.

Disabled people, too, have been a target for his blunt wit. In 2012, he asked a 60-year-old London man on a mobility scooter: “How many people have you knocked over this morning on that thing?”

Local media reported that, like many targets of the Prince’s jokes, the man took the Prince’s comments in good humor. “That is just typical from the Duke. He is renowned for his humor,” David Miller was quoted as saying.


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