Britain's Prince Philip has reportedly made one of his notorious gaffes by joking with a British-Indian business leader about his name, The Sun reported on Tuesday.
During a reception at Buckingham Palace for some 400 influential British Indians, the husband of the Queen greeted Atul Patel by glancing at his name tag and saying: "There's a lot of your family in tonight."
According to The Sun newspaper, the comment appeared to suggest that all Patels are related. Patel is a common Indian surname, and there are an estimated 670,000 Patels living in Britain, the tabloid said.
A spokesman for Patel, who is chief executive of leading housing association the LHA-Asra group, said no offence was taken by the remark. "Absolutely no offence was taken at all by Atul. It was taken in a very light hearted way," the spokesman told The Sun.
The reception was held to coincide with the state visit of Indian President Pratibha Patil who arrived in Britain on Monday.
Patil will this week join Queen Elizabeth to launch the baton relay for the 2010 Commonwealth Games in New Delhi.
The prince's comment was condemned by Republic, a group campaigning to abolish the monarchy, as "deeply embarrassing". "Making a joke about people called Patel is deeply embarrassing given the timing of the Indian state visit. At best it's a comment that shows he's out of touch and out of date," said the group's spokesman Graham Smith.
The 88-year-old prince is well known for undiplomatic off-hand remarks, which have included:
- "Still throwing spears?" (a question to an Australian Aborigine during a 2002 visit)
- "You managed not to get eaten, then?" (to a student who had been trekking in Papua New Guinea, 1998).
Some more gaffes from Prince Philip:
Touring a factory ner Edinburgh in 2000, he looked at a fuse box and said: “it looks as though it has been put in by an Indian”. Windsor Castle had to issue an apology.
In 1986, he told a World Wildlife Fund meeting : “If it has got four legs and if it is not a chair, if it has got two wings and it flies but is not an aeroplane, and if it swims and if it is not a submarine, the Cantonese will eat it”.
In 1986, he told a group of British exchange students in China's Xian city: “ If you live in this country for a year you will all go native and come home slitty-eyed”.
In Cardiff 10 years ago, he told British Deaf Association kids as they stood near a Caribbean band: “If you're near that music it's no wonder you're deaf”. AFP