Prince Philip is saying goodbye to the British public today, at least in his official royal capacity. The 96-year-old is retiring from public life after decades of loyal service to the country and the queen.
While some of his one-liners have been deemed racist, sexist and/or xenophobic — and rightfully so — others are hilarious, and some downright touching. Here are seven of our favorite Prince Philip stories in honor of the years of delight he has brought the public.
7. On music
During a visit to a school for the deaf in Wales in 1999, Prince Philip apparently was not a fan of the Caribbean steel drum band playing in his honor. “Deaf? If you are near there, no wonder you are deaf,” he told the students.
6. On environmentalism
While accepting a conservation award in Thailand in 1991, the prince made it clear that lip service to the issue is not enough. “Your country is one of the most notorious centers of trading in endangered species,” he told the Thais during his speech.
5. On flying coach
While speaking to the Aircraft Research Association in 2002, Prince Philip said what we’re all thinking about flying commercial: “If you travel as much as we do, you appreciate the improvements in aircraft design of less noise and more comfort — provided you don’t travel in something called economy class, which sounds ghastly.”
4. On small talk
A VIP at a local airport asked HRH, “What was your flight like, Your Royal Highness?” Philip asked in response, “Have you ever flown in a plane?” “Oh yes, sir, many times,” said the VIP. “Well,” said Philip, “it was just like that.”
3. On international relations with Russia
When asked in 1967 if he would like to visit Russia, Philip replied with his usual candor: “I’d like to go to Russia very much — although the bastards murdered half my family.”
2. On the queen’s natural beauty
The world rarely gets a glimpse of the intimate inner workings of the couple’s marriage, but one anecdote highlights it beautifully. During a visit with good friends John and Patricia Brabourne early in their marriage, John remarked to Philip about the queen, “I never realized what lovely skin she has.” “Yes,” Philip replied, “she’s like that all over.”
1. On Scottish fashion
Waaaaay back in the day, when Philip was first courting Elizabeth, he was invited to spend time with the family at the Balmoral estate. It being Scotland, he was pressed into wearing a kilt, much to his chagrin. When he was brought forward to meet her father, King George VI, a mischievous Philip eschewed the bow in favor of a deep curtsy. They say the king was not amused.