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Saturday, 7 April, 2001, 15:48 GMT 16:48 UK
A very royal gaffe
Prince Philip
Gaffes: Prince Philip has usually spoken his mind
As any royal historian knows, the Countess of Wessex is not the first member of the House of Windsor to generate a media maelstrom with some ill-considered verbal gaffes.


If you stay here much longer you'll all be slitty-eyed

Prince Philip to British students in Beijing
The countess' husband, Prince Edward, created his own storm in 1999 when he told an American audience the British media "hate anyone who succeeds".

Columnist A N Wilson labelled him as merely "a bit of a twit" in a lengthy piece in the prince's defence.

But it is Prince Philip who has caused most upset with a string of controversial comments.

The Countess of Wessex and Prince Edward
The Wessexes enjoyed only a brief media honeymoon
During a visit to China in 1986, he described Beijing as "ghastly" and told British students: "If you stay here much longer you'll all be slitty-eyed."

And on encountering a Briton on a 1993 visit to Hungary he joked "you can't have been here that long - you haven't got a pot belly" - in what was seen as an unflattering allusion to the national cuisine.

He was savaged by the media when he quipped during a visit to an Edinburgh electronics company that an unsophisticated fusebox looked as if it had been "put in by an Indian".

And in 1995 he asked a Scottish driving instructor: "How do you keep the natives off the booze long enough to pass the test."

Prince Andrew
Even Andrew has wandered into controversy
In May 1999 he upset deaf people during a visit to the new Welsh Assembly when he spoke to members of the British Deaf Association who were standing near a band, pointed to the musicians and said: "Deaf? If you are near there, no wonder you are deaf."

The Duke of York angered residents in Elgin in 1997 by suggesting they had got off lightly compared to the Royal Family in the Windsor Castle fire, despite around 60m worth of flood damage in Morayshire.

The former Duchess of York was widely criticised by the media for allegedly bemoaning the fact that in order to spend a lot of cash, one also has to have a lot coming in as well.

The "toe-sucking" pictures, her debt problems and involvement in advertising and American talk shows all contributed to her woeful public image.

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