Following this morning’s announcement that the Duke of Edinburgh is to stand down from official royal duties, anti-royalists have called for the public to condemn the gaffe-prone prince.
Graham Smith, CEO of campaign group Republic – which is calling for the royal family to be abolished – says the response in some quarters to hail the prince as a national treasure is misguided.
He told Yahoo News: “I’m not sure what he’s retiring from. I don’t think we’ve heard much from him in the last few years which is why no one would have notice that he’d retired without the announcement.
“I think there’s a sense of ‘so what? Is that it?’ I don’t think people are particularly bothered. I’m sure they’ll be paying tributes to him and so on but I think it’ll pass over pretty quickly. I don’t suppose the general public care one way or the other.”
Regarding Prince Philip’s penchant for inappropriate remarks, which has earned him national treasure status in some quarters, Graham said: “If any MP said the things he said they would have been out of office a long time ago.
“There’s a danger of making light of some of the comments he’s made over the years, it helps to make them acceptable and I think that’s not really okay.”
He added: “I actually got my Duke of Edinburgh Award a long time ago and he was there and couldn’t help making some rude comment about Australians. It’s just an instinctive thing he seems to do.
“It’s unprofessional and inappropriate and I think someone should have had a word with him a long time ago. But they are untouchable and no one feels able to tell them to behave.
“I think it’s because he’s a royal, people don’t want to pick a fight with them, particularly if they’re married to the Queen.”
While rumours of his death turned out to be untrue today, Graham predicts a low-key response when Prince Philip’s time eventually comes.
He said: “I imagine with most people it will pass them by in the same way as any well-known public figure would – which won’t be the case with the Queen, I don’t suppose, but I think people have a fairly ambivalent attitude towards Philip.”