I had no idea that Prince Phillip was known for his faux pas, but here’s a Google map that shows how global he’s been. For instance, he apparently told a group of British students in China, “Stay here much longer, you’ll be all slitty eyed.” Or the time he asked a student who had been trekking in Papua New Guinea, “So you managed not to get eaten then?”
Here at Um… headquarters, we treat this sort of thing like a fishing tale. On one hand, we appreciate the telling, and we like slapping our foreheads, particularly at the Queen of England’s consort. On the other hand, we can’t help but note that taken out of context, quite a lot of statements can sound doltish, crude, and so…common. But given that Phillip has the job of being chummy with lots of descendants of colonial subjects whom he’s never met before and will never see again, the opportunity to find a statement that makes an ugly contrast has to be quite high.
The real test of gaffeness would be whether or not the people he was talking to thought it was a faux pas. Let’s give this test a name: the Prince Phillip test. Until we hear from an Australian aborigine who’s found umbrage, we’ll treat such stories as too good to be verifiable and too unverifiable for measuring the man.