“Dontopedology is the science of opening your mouth and putting your foot in it,” Prince Philip once remarked, and the 90-year-old was busy at his favorite sport once again yesterday when, on a tour of a South London suburb, he met an attractive blonde woman in a bright red zip-up two piece suit.
After shaking hands with her he turned to a nearby police officer and remarked: “I would get arrested if I unzipped that dress.”
Whilst many of Philip's previous gaffes have been celebrated by the British media as the kind of forthright opinions one used to be free to utter before the nanny state and political correctness took over, this remark - with its dirty old man overtones - may prove to be different as the woman concerned, a 25 year-old council worker named Hannah Jackson, is refusing to play the part Phil's victims usually do, and say, 'Oh, yes, it was hillarious.'
She instead told reporters, "I am not sure what to say," and is now not taking calls from the media. But if she breaks her silence and says anything at all about the furore, it could take on a more serious hue.
Maybe it's an old man's way of protesting a lifetime spent walking two steps behind his wife, or maybe it's just that he'd rather not be forced out to meet the masses as frequently as he has been in Jubilee year, but it seems Philip's cracks are getting rather less good natured as the Jubilee tour of the UK progresses.
Whilst he no longer makes racial jokes - 'Don't stay here too long or you'll get slitty eyes', 'That fusebox looks like it's been installed by an Indian' - disabled people and women do still seem to be fair game.
Just a few weeks ago he asked a disabled man on a mobility scooter how many people he had 'knocked down on that thing'. He must have liked that joke, because he said the same thing to another guy on one a few hours later.
It's not quite as awful as the time in 2009 that the Queen asked a military cadet blinded by a terrorist explosion how much sight he had left, and, before he could answer, Phil butted in: "Not a lot, judging by the tie he is wearing."
Philip also yesterday asked an 89-year-old who was wrapped in a foil blanket to keep out the cold while she stood waiting to meet the Monarch for hours on end: “Are they going to put you in the oven next?"
We can't help feeling it strikes the wrong tone.