Prince Philip is retiring. The Duke of Edinburgh – consort of the Queen and part-time lizard monster – is hanging up his loafers at the grand old age of 96, presumably in order to wait for the inevitable release of death. The prince, whose longevity is supposedly due to a strict diet of quails’ eggs and the souls of the poor, will not accept any more public engagements from this autumn, to the great relief of those who organise the events.
This marks the end of a nearly 70 year long career – a career of formal dinners and ribbon cutting. What a trooper. After such a strenuous work day, this poor fella had to return to one of his palaces to be waited on hand and foot. It’s no wonder he’s had enough. Even he himself has said about his role that “Any bloody fool can lay a wreath at the thingamy.”
Reporters are having a field day, cutting and pasting from their pre written memorials of the oldster to give moving tributes to the royal hubby. There are only two problems with this. One, he’s not dead, and that material will be needed soon enough. Two, he’s a terrible person. Let’s stop the collective bullshit pretence that Phil is a selfless public servant working tirelessly for Queen and country, and admit that he’s a racist sexist arsehole who should have been forced from a position of prominence decades ago.
Phil is seen by many as a slightly dodgy, definitely racist but still loveable fool. He gets away with blatant racism, and has done so for decades, because few people take him seriously. He’s a relic of a previous time – a symbolic figure with no real power. Yet this isn’t quite true. Yes, he can’t have anyone beheaded at the drop of a hat or declare war on anyone, but the Royal Family still has a significant amount of influence over public opinion. Just look at the positive impact Will and Harry had on the conversation around grief counselling when they spoke about dealing with Diana’s death. Laughing off the horrendous remarks made by Philip as “gaffes” says a lot about how seriously we treat insidious racism.
When you shrug off or ignore remarks like “If you stay here much longer, you will go home with slitty eyes.” (Made to a British student studying in China in 1986), or “Do you still throw spears at each other?” (Directed at William Brin, an Aborigine leader in 2002), we are tacitly saying that offensive jokes and flat out, unvarnished racism can be an accepted part of our society.
Phil is nothing if not versatile, however, and has branched out into sexism, ableism and plain horrendousness. Let’s take a look at his former material.
Sexism? “I thought it was against the law these days for a woman to solicit.” (To a female solicitor). Check.
Ableism? “Do people trip over you?” (To a wheelchair user). Check.
Horrendousness? “You could do with losing a little bit of weight.” (To hopeful astronaut, 13-year-old Andrew Adams). Completed it mate.
Yet instead of calling him out on the offensive jokes, we read listicles of his top 90 gaffes and eagerly anticipate more. Why? Is it Royal Family mania – the bizarre obsession with the biggest benefit cheats ever known who literally do not give a shit about you? Is it a backlash against so-called “PC culture”, i.e. the idea that we should use common courtesy and not discriminate? Is it because of underlying racism and sexism that is given an acceptable outlet in his outbursts?
In any case, I will not be sorry to witness the back of a man who epitomises the arrogance of an imperial system which places white upper class men at the top and sneers at everyone else.
If the above remarks aren’t enough to have you admit that Phil is a class A prick, here’s what he said to survivors of the Lockerbie bombings in 1993: “People usually say that after a fire it is water damage that is the worst. We are still drying out Windsor Castle.”
Three hurrahs then for His Royal Highness, a man who made a career out of being a cunt.
[Louise Wylie – @womanpendulum]