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Prince Philip makes first gaffe of 2013

Feb. 21, 2013 at 1:35 AM

LUTON, England, Feb. 21 (UPI) -- Prince Philip made what is thought to be his first gaffe of 2013 when he told a Filipino nurse at an English hospital her country must be "half empty."

Philip was at Luton and Dunstable Hospital in Bedfordshire Wednesday to open a new cardiac center. The nurse laughed in response, apparently enjoying the joke and the introduction to Queen Elizabeth's husband, the Daily Mirror reported.

"The Philippines must be half empty -- you're all here running the NHS (National Health Service)," Philip said.

The hospital presented Philip with a gold-plated stent. The prince, who was given a stent because of a blocked artery in December 2011, said he was glad to have a spare.

"Staff greatly enjoyed the opportunity to meet the Duke of Edinburgh, and we regard all personal conversations he had with our staff and guests as private and therefore would not comment on them," a hospital spokeswoman said.

Philip, now 91, has a reputation for gaffes that goes back decades. He once told Gen. Alfredo Stroessner, who ruled Paraguay from 1954 to 1989, it was a "pleasure to be in a country that isn't ruled by its people." In December, he told British bank executives "don't do it again."

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