The priceless racism of the Duke of Edinburgh


The kind of racism Prince Philip exudes is reminiscent of the very spirit of British and other European imperialism at its height, writes Dabashi PHOTO/Reuters

Prince Philip has done the world an extraordinary service by exposing the racist hypocrisy of “Western civilisation”.

“Prince Philip carries out final official engagement,” the BBC informed the world on August 2, 2017. “The Duke of Edinburgh met Royal Marines in his final solo public engagement before he retires from royal duties.” 

There is an air of historic solemnity in the tone of the BBC. “The 96-year-old announced his retirement in May, after decades of supporting the Queen as well as attending events for his own charities and organisations. Prince Philip has completed 22,219 solo engagements since 1952.” In 1952 I was one year old. The year after that, the MI6, the military intelligence outfit of the Duke of Edinburgh’s government, helped the CIA to stage a coup in my homeland. The BBC would not say which one of those 22,219 royal duties coincided with that occasion.

On this occasion, instead, the BBC did what it does best: pointed to a truth but camouflaged it with a number of choice euphemisms that completely distort what it seems to mark. Prince Philip – how shall we put it gently here – is a rank racist. His racism is a public secret. Everyone knows it. The Prince himself habitually stages it. So the BBC needs to report it, though in a typically BBC kind of a way – by making it frivolous and innocuous.  

“Prince Philip’s gaffes from decades on royal duty,” the BBC headlines it. So the good Prince’s astonishing utterances are not what they are, symptomatic of a deeply racist mind. They are just “gaffes” – unintentional and unfortunate remarks causing embarrassment, things he should not have said, and did not really mean, but unfortunately did say. That’s why they are “gaffes”.  

‘Still throwing spears?’

The BBC then moves to colour these vintage racist utterances with even thicker brushes as “memorable one-liners that can make some people chuckle and others cringe”. That is meant to cancel the “cringe” with a “chuckle” and come up with a neutralising cough. The rest is entirely standard BBC lore chiselling at brutish facts with etymological gymnastics: “Prince Philip is renowned for speaking his mind – often explained as his attempt to lighten the mood – and that outspoken nature has at times led to controversy with some of those remarks teetering on the edge of being offensive.” 

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