To people who have followed the public appearances of the British Royal Family, they would be aware of the public conversational skills of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh and husband-consort to Queen Elizabeth II. That is to say, he is rather prone to make embarrassing statements where media can hear. Case in point, Prince Philip’s 1986 visit to China had him say to British students of Northwest University in Xi’an that they might “go slit-eyed” if they stayed in the country too long. He phrased it as a joke, but came across as a politically embarrassing gaffe. And it seems his eldest grandson follows suit.
CNN reports that Prince William, Duke of Cambridge is sort of shaping up to be a bit like his grandpa in informal conversation where other countries are involved. On Thursday, September 13, the Duke was a guest of honor at the opening of the Japan House Cultural Center in Kensington, London not far from Buckingham Palace. While conversing with schoolchildren attending the event over bowls of Japanese cuisine (as part of a lesson of eating with chopsticks), Prince William nonchalantly asked a student if they had eaten Chinese food often, mixing up countries of origin.
Following a confused pause, the Duke realized his mistake and repeated his question saying, “Sorry, Japanese food. Have you had much Japanese food?” Even worse, his fellow guest of honor, Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso, was not far from him. And as the icing on the gaffe cake, the media of course picked it up.
Prince William is hardly alone in the recent confusions between China and Japan by a highly-ranked representative of the UK. In July during an official visit to Beijing, British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt hoped to impress his hosts by mentioning his Chinese wife Lucia Guo, a native of Xi’an (coincidentally, where Prince Philip made his “slit-eyed” comment). Unfortunately, he mistakenly said she was Japanese; an understandable confusion perhaps, because he speaks Japanese fluently due to having lived in that country. But still, it was terrible to mix things up in front of several Chinese leaders.
Fortunately for the Duke of Cambridge, he is good at patching this up following his slip-up. During a toast at the formal opening ceremony of the Kensington Japan House he gamely sipped sake (Japanese rice wine), and complimented master chef Akira Shimizu’s salmon sashimi, mentioning how he and wife Katherine, Duchess of Cambridge love eating it. And there is his very respectful mien when he last visited Japan back in 2015, praising its “wonderful blend of ancient and modern” cultures.
Image from Daily Express