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Boris Johnson Defends Prince Philip’s Racist Remarks: ‘World Did Not Hold It Against Him’

In a tribute to Prince Philip, United Kingdom Prime Minister Boris Johnson decided to bring up some of the late Duke of Edinburgh’s racist remarks and then falsely claimed that “the world did not hold it against him.” 

“It is true that [Philip] occasionally drove a coach and horses through the finer points of diplomatic protocol,” Johnson said during a speech to Parliament on Monday. He added that the Duke of Edinburgh had “coined a new word, dontopedalogy: the experience of putting your foot in your mouth.” 

The prime minister then unnecessarily revisited some examples: “He told a British student in Papua New Guinea that he was lucky not to be eaten, and the people of the Cayman Islands that they were descended from pirates,” he said, citing incidents from 1998 and 1994, respectively.  

Papua New Guinea is a former colony of Australia and part of the British Commonwealth, and the Cayman Islands are a British territory. 

“The world did not hold it against him,” Johnson claimed, falsely. “On the contrary, they overwhelmingly understood he was trying to break the ice … to get people laughing and to forget their nerves.” 

As U.K. reporter Nadine White pointed out on Twitter, many people of color have been “deeply upset” and offended by Prince Philip’s racism. 

Philip, the husband of Queen Elizabeth II, died at age 99 on Friday.

In his over 22,000 public engagements in his decades representing the monarchy, Philip made many racist and otherwise offensive remarks. In 1986, he told British students in China that “if you stay here much longer, you’ll all be slitty-eyed.” In 1999, he said that an old fuse box in a factory “looks as if it was put in by an Indian.” That same year, Philip asked British politician Lord Taylor of Warwick, who is Black, “What exotic part of the world do you come from?” Taylor replied: “Birmingham.”

In 2002, Philip asked Australian Aboriginal leader William Brin if members of his community were “still throwing spears.” The same year, he asked young people at the Bangladesh Youth Club in London, “Who’s on drugs here?” In 2003, Philip told the then-president of Nigeria, Olusegun Obasanjo, who was wearing traditional garb: “You look like you’re ready for bed.”



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