‘Here come the bloody reptiles’: Britain's Prince Philip and the media

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‘Here Come The Bloody Reptiles’: Britain's Prince Philip And The Media
The Duke of Edinburgh, © PA Archive/PA Images
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By Laura Elston, PA Court Reporter

Britain's Prince Philip had a far from harmonious relationship with the press.

“Here come the bloody reptiles,” he once said to the Queen with a grimace as he watched a pack of reporters arrive during a 1983 tour of Bangladesh, not realising he had been overheard by one of them.

Philip was never shy in making his feelings on the matter known.

On a visit to the Caribbean island of Dominica, he declared: “You have mosquitoes. We have the press.”

The duke was not fond of the press (PA)

When a photographer covering a royal tour of India fell out of a tree, Philip quipped: “I hope he breaks his bloody neck.”

Despite this, the duke insisted he tried his best to help the media.

“I go out of my way to line people up for photographers … to make sure the photographers have got what they need. I always have,” he told royal biographer Gyles Brandreth.

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Yet Philip never lost his distrust of the Fourth Estate.

In 1999, he admitted: “I am desperate if I find there are British press on a foreign visits. I know they’ll wreck the thing if they possibly can.”

 

He could also be withering about television.

“So you’re responsible for the kind of crap Channel 4 produces”, he said to the then chairman of Channel 4, Sir Michael Bishop, at a film premiere in 1996.

But unlike the Queen, Philip did give interviews – usually on topics such as his Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Scheme or other issues close to his heart that he felt were important.

In May 1961, he became the first member of the royal family to be interviewed on television.

He was questioned by Richard Dimbleby on the BBC’s Panorama programme, discussing an initiative to encourage the training of skilled workers.

A photographer waiting for the Duke of Edinburgh at Windsor Great Park in 1972 (PA)

He also presented TV programmes, including in May 1957 a programme on the BBC about his four-and-a-half-month tour of the Commonwealth.

In his 80s, he took part in a BBC TV documentary about Windsor Castle.

In 2016, to mark 60 years of The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, he was interviewed by daytime presenter Phillip Schofield, who peppered his interviews with countless “Sirs”.

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“How many more times have we got to do this?” the duke, then 95, asked at one of their encounters.

His feelings on the media were clear.

Once, as he surveyed an exhibition of newspaper front pages, he turned to a member of industry and declared frankly: “You make it all up anyway.”

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