Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh

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Prince Philip (born 10 June 1921) is the consort of Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom.


from The Environmental Revolution - Speeches on Conservation 1962-77

  • For conservation to be successful it is necessary to take into consideration that it is a characteristic of man that he can only be relied upon to do anything consistently which is in his own interest. He may have occasional fits of conscience and moral rectitude but otherwise his actions are governed by self-interest. It follows then that whatever the moral reasons for conservation it will only be achieved by the inducement of profit or pleasure.
    • World Wildlife Fund: British National Appeal Banquet, London, (1962)
  • Why then be concerned about the conservation of wildlife when for all practical purposes we would be much better off if humans and their domestic animals and pets were the only living creatures on the face of the earth? There is no obvious and demolishing answer to this rather doubtful logic although in practice the destruction of all wild animals would certainly bring devastating changes to our existence on this planet as we know it today...The trouble is that everything in nature is completely interdependent. Tinker with one part of it and the repercussions ripple out in all directions...Wildlife - and that includes everything from microbes to blue whales and from a fungus to a redwood tree - has been so much part of life on the earth that we are inclined to take its continued existence for granted...Yet the wildlife of the world is disappearing, not because of a malicious and deliberate policy of slaughter and extermination, but simply because of a general and widespread ignorance and neglect.
    • World Wildlife Fund Dinner, York, (1969)
  • The industrial followed by the scientific revolution, combined with a world population explosion, have produced one of the most serious situations that the world has experienced since the flood. The sheer weight of numbers of the human population, our habitations, our machinery and our ruthless exploitation of the living and organic resources of the earth; together these are changing our whole environment. This is what we call progress and much of this development is naturally to the direct and welcome benefit of mankind. However, we cannot at the same time ignore the awkward consequences and the most direct and menacing, but not the only consequence of this change, is pollution....Pollution is a direct outcome of man's ruthless exploitation of the earth's resources. Experience shows that the growth of successful organic populations is eventually balanced by the destruction of its own habitat. The vast man-made deserts show that the human population started this process long ago. There are two important differences today. In the first place the process has gone from a walking pace to a breakneck gallop. Secondly we know exactly what is happening. If not exactly in all cases, we know enough to appreciate what is happening and the need to take care...Pollution is no longer a matter of local incidents, today it has the whole biosphere in its grip. The processes which devastated the Welsh valleys a hundred years ago are now at work, over, on and under the earth and the oceans. Even if we bury all this waste underground there still remains the risk that toxic materials through chemical reactions will be washed out and into underground water courses. If ever there was an area of research more closely related to human welfare it is the problem of the safe disposal of waste and effluents...The fact is that we have got to make a choice between human prosperity on the one hand and the total well-being of the planet Earth on the other. Even then it is hardly a choice because if we only look for human prosperity we shall certainly destroy by pollution the earth and the human population which has existed on it for millions of years...If the world pollution situation is not critical at the moment it is as certain as anything can be that the situation will become increasingly intolerable within a very short time. The situation can be controlled and even reversed but it demands co-operation on a scale and intensity beyond anything achieved so far...I realise that there are any number of vital causes to be fought for, I sympathise with people who work up a passionate concern about the all too many examples of inhumanity, injustice, and unfairness, but behind all this hangs a really deadly cloud. Still largely unnoticed and unrecognised, the process of destroying our natural environment is gathering speed and momentum. If we fail to cope with this challenge, all the other problems will pale into insignificance.
    • Edinburgh University Union, (1969)
  • must accept responsibilities in proportion to his power and, if we are to exercise these responsibilities so that all life can continue on earth, they must have a moral and philosophical basis. Simple self-interest, economic profit and absolute materialism are no longer enough... It has been made perfectly clear that a concern for any part of life on this planet - human, plant or animal, wild or tame - is a concern for all life. A threat to any part of the environment is a threat to the whole environment, but we must have a basis of assessment of these threats, not so that we can establish a priority of fears, but so that we can make a positive contribution to improvement and ultimate survival.
  • It is frequently more rewarding merely to ask pertinent questions. It may get someone to go and look for an answer. If you get a silly answer, which can easily happen, you can return to the charge with even more telling effect. Whatever happens, don't give up and don't despair. Results may not be immediately apparent, but you may have touched a receptive chord without knowing it. Even the most unsympathetic and unenlightened politician, industrialist or bureaucrat begins to take notice when a lot of people write about the same subject.
  • It is an old cliche to say that the future is in the hands of the young. This is no longer true. The quality of life to be enjoyed or the existence to be survived by our children and future generations is in our hands now.
    • The World Wildlife Fund Congress, London, (1970)
  • A new criterion has been added, the conservation of the environment so that in the long run life, including human life, can continue. This new consideration must be taken into account at all levels and in all departments of government and in the boardrooms of every industrial enterprise. It is no longer sufficient simply to quantify the elements of existence as in old-fashioned material economics; conservation means taking notice of the quality of existence as well...The problem is of course to give some value to that quality and perhaps the only way to do this is to try and work out the cost in terms of loss of amenities, loss of holiday and recreation facilities, loss of property values, loss of contact with nature, loss of health standards and loss of food resources, if proper conservation methods are not used. Looked at in that light it may well turn out that money spent on proper pollution control, urban and rural planning and the control of exploitation of wild stocks of plants or animals on land and in the sea, is the less expensive alternative in the long run...The conservation of nature, the proper care for the human environment and a general concern for the long-term future of the whole of our planet are absolutely vital if future generations are to have a chance to enjoy their existence on this earth.
    • The Australian Conservation Foundation April Canberra (1970)


  • The man who invented the red carpet needed his head examined.
    • About to disembark on state visit to Brazil, November 1968. (quoted in Andrew Duncan, The Reality of Monarchy)
  • You have mosquitos. I have the Press.
    • In a conversation with the matron of a hospital while on a tour of the Caribbean, 1966. (quoted in Andrew Duncan, The Reality of Monarchy)
  • It seems to me that it's the best way of wasting money that I know of. I don't think investments on the moon pay a very high dividend.
    • On the U.S. Apollo program, press conference in Sao Paulo, Brazil, November 1968. (quoted in Andrew Duncan, The Reality of Monarchy)
  • Speaking to a driving instructor in Scotland, he asked: "How do you keep the natives off the booze long enough to get them through the test?"
  • When visiting China in 1986, he told a group of British students, "If you stay here much longer, you'll all be slitty-eyed"; "Long line of princely gaffes", BBC, March 1, 2002.
  • "If it has four legs and is not a chair, has wings and is not an aeroplane, or swims and is not a submarine, the Cantonese will eat it." (1986)
  • Angering local residents in Lockerbie when on a visit to the town in 1993, the Prince said to a man who lived in a road where eleven people had been killed by wreckage from the Pan Am jumbo jet: "People usually say that after a fire it is water damage that is the worst. We are still trying to dry out Windsor Castle."
  • At the height of the recession in 1981 he said: "Everybody was saying we must have more leisure. Now they are complaining they are unemployed."
  • Upon presenting a Duke of Edinburgh Award to a student, when informed that the young man was going to help out in Romania for six months, he asked if the student was going to help the Romanian orphans; upon being informed he was not, it was claimed the 85-year-old duke added: "Ah good, there's so many over there you feel they breed them just to put in orphanages."
  • In 1997, the Duke of Edinburgh, participating in an already controversial British visit to the Jallianwala Bagh massacre (where Indian Army soldiers opened fire on an unarmed gathering of men, women and children) Monument, provoked outrage in India and in the UK with an offhand comment. Having observed a plaque claiming "This place is saturated with the blood of about two thousand Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims who were martyred in a non-violent struggle.", Prince Philip observed, "That's a bit exaggerated, it must include the wounded". When asked how he had come to this conclusion Philip said "I was told about the killings by General Dyer's son. I'd met him while I was in the Navy." **The Queen in Amritsar
  • In the event that I am reincarnated, I would like to return as a deadly virus, in order to contribute something to solve overpopulation.
    • In the foreward to Fleur Cowles If I Were an Animal (William Morrow, publisher, 1987), ISBN 978-0688061500.
  • Do you know they're now producing eating dogs for the anorexics?"


  • I am actually a large piece of cheese. (1953)
    • To Francesco De Burgemile, upon hearing of his whimsy of gullibility.
  • Where did you get that hat? (1953)
    • To his wife, the Queen, immediately after her coronation
  • The only active sport I will follow is polo - and most of the work is done by the pony. (1965)
  • The bastards murdered half my family. (1967)
    • When asked if he would like to visit the Soviet Union.
  • I'm one of those stupid bums who never went to university, and a fat lot of harm it's done me. (circa 1968)
  • What do you gargle with - pebbles? (1969)
    • Said to Tom Jones after the The Royal Variety Performance
  • You must be out of your minds. (1982)
    • To Solomon Islanders on being told that their population growth was 5% a year
  • Your country is one of the most notorious centres of trading in endangered species in the world. (1991)
    • Said in Thailand after accepting a conservation award
  • 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? (1996)
    • Said amid calls to ban firearms after the Dunblane shooting
  • Bloody silly fool! (1997)
    • Referring to a Cambridge University car park attendant who failed to recognise him
  • Oh! You are the people ruining the rivers and the environment. (1999)
    • Said when he met three young employees of a Scottish fish farm
  • Oh, it's you that owns that ghastly car - we often see it when driving to Windsor Castle. (2001)
    • Talking to Elton John after he told Prince Philip that he had sold his gold Aston Martin
  • You were playing your instruments, weren't you? Or do you have tape recorders under your seats? (2002)
    • Said to a children's band in Australia
  • If you travel as much as we do you appreciate how much more comfortable aircraft have become. Unless you travel in something called economy class, which sounds ghastly. (2002)
    • Commenting during the Jubilee tour
  • The problem with London is the tourists. They cause the congestion. If we could just stop tourism, we could stop the congestion. (2002)
    • Commenting on the London traffic debate after mayor Ken Livingstone launched his plan to charge motorists £5 to enter the city
  • French cooking's all very well, but they can't do a decent English breakfast. (2002)
    • Aboard the floating restaurant 'Il Punto' on the river Orwell in Ipswich, after thoroughly enjoying an excellent full English breakfast (Il Punto is owned by Frenchman Regis Crepy)
  • It is surprising the way things have changed since I first became chancellor of a university 50 years ago. (2003)
    • Source: Opening a new research centre at the University of York
    • The statement was widely misrepresented as referring to the University of York itself, rather than the University of Edinburgh, of which Prince Philip is Chancellor. (The York Chancellor at the time was Janet Baker, and the university was celebrating its fortieth anniversary.)
  • It doesn't look like much work goes on at this University. (2005)
    • Overheard at Bristol University's BLADE (Bristol Laboratory for Advanced Dynamic Engineering) facility, which had been closed in order that he and the Queen could officially open it
  • You look like you're ready for bed!
    • Said to the President of Nigeria, who was dressed in traditional robes.
  • Never pass up a chance to go to the loo or to take a poo.
    • When asked his secret for dealing with public appearances.
  • If people feel it has no further part to play, then for goodness sake, let's end the thing on amicable terms without having a row about it.
    • On sentiment against the British monarchy.
  • If you see a man opening a car door for a woman, it means one of two things: it's either a new woman or a new car!
  • Edinburgh: And what exotic part of the world do you come from?
    Lord Taylor: I'm from Birmingham. (1999)
    • An exchange with Lord Taylor of Warwick, who is black.
  • Brazilians live there.
    • Prince Philip on the "key problem" facing Brazil.
  • Do we need ear plugs?
    • At the Royal Premiere of the James Bond film Die Another Day, on being told that Madonna sang the theme song.
  • Damn fool question!
    • Said to BBC journalist Caroline Wyatt after she asked Queen Elizabeth if she was enjoying her stay in Paris.
  • Any bloody fool can lay a wreath at the thingamy.
    • From an interview with Jeremy Paxman

See also