Prince Philip apparently pointed to a bearded man and asked ‘Is that a terrorist’ when meeting crowds ahead of the New Year’s Eve church service at Sandringham House today.
The Duke of Edinburgh, 96, is said to have made the gaffe as he led Princess Anne and daughter-in-law the Countess of Essex to the church in Norfolk.
Prince Philip allegedly spotted a tall man with a long ginger beard, pointed at him and made the controversial remark.
‘Philip was wishing lots of people a Happy New Year and then he spotted this guy with his distinctive beard,’ an onlooker in the crowd said.
‘He pointed at him in a funny way and turned to one of his Royal bodyguards, saying: “Is that a terrorist?”.
‘He was obviously having a little joke, but he said it within earshot of the man who burst out laughing and appeared to find the whole thing hilarious. I think Philip knew he was going to be overheard. I’m sure Philip didn’t mean any harm.
‘His grandson Prince Harry has a ginger beard, so perhaps Philip had been cracking jokes about that over Christmas.’
Ian Smith 39, a lawyer who was with his wife and children said: ‘Everyone knows Prince Philip has got a sense of humour, although some people night have though it was a risqué comment.’
Prince Philip, who completed more than 22,000 solo engagements since 1952 and announced his retirement from public duty this year, has courted controversy through risque jokes on several occasions.
The Queen, 91, chose a vibrant teal outfit for the occasion.
But there was no sign of Duke and Duchess of Cambridge or Prince Harry’s fiancee Meghan Markle, who attended church at Sandringham for the first time on Christmas Day.
Prince Harry, 33, revealed the former Suits actress enjoying her first Christmas with the royals and had a ‘fantastic time’.
The traditional church service ends a busy 2017 for the Royal family.