Prince Philip

Prince Philip

Britain's Prince Philip told a Filipino nurse her country must be "half empty" - because many of her compatriots are in the UK.

The 91-year-old royal - who is prone to making gaffes in public - made the remark as he opened a new £5.5 million heart centre at Luton and Dunstable Hospital, south east England, and said all of the nurse's fellow countrymen and women seem to be working for the National Health Service (NHS).

Speaking to the nurse, who laughed, he said: "The Philippines must be half empty - you're all here running the NHS."

While a hospital spokesman did not comment directly on the Duke of Edinburgh's conversation with the nurse, he revealed the medical facility hadn't ever held a recruitment campaign in the Philippines.

He said: "Luton is a very cosmopolitan town and the working staff at Luton and Dunstable Hospital reflects that."

Philip was said to be in "jovial" mood and as well as asking when the hospital will be installing a helipad to save him having to make a journey by car, he described himself as the "the world's most experienced curtain puller".

The duke is known for his inappropriate comments, and there have been many over the years.

In October, he failed to identify the UK's health secretary at a Buckingham Palace reception, asking Jeremy Hunt: "Who are you?"

In March, Philip asked a disabled man how many people he had knocked over with his mobility scooter, while at a prize-giving ceremony in 2010 for the Duke of Edinburgh Awards a girl told him that she'd been to Romania to help in an orphanage. He replied: "Oh yes, there's a lot of orphanages in Romania - they must breed them."

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