Philip’s favourite story of the Queen’s wit came in de Gaulles encounter – ‘Ah happiness’


THE Duke of Edinburgh’s favourite story to tell friends involved an awkward encounter with the former French President’s wife.

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People were devastated by the news of Prince Philip’s death in April this year. No more so than Queen Elizabeth II, who had described him as her “strength and stay”.

While the couple were known for their regal elegance on state visits and other royal duties, the pair were not averse to having a laugh and a joke during their 73 years of marriage.

But it was Prince Philip in particular who will be remembered by many for his quick-wittedness.

During Sir Elton John’s performance at the 2001 Royal Variety, the Duke of Edinburgh even said: “I wish he’d turn the microphone off.”

And, according to one royal insider, Philip once even decided to hide one of the Queen’s corgis to entertain their guests.

Queen Smiling

Queen Elizabeth’s humour came to the rescue in an awkward encounter with France’s ex-First Lady. (Image: Getty)

Yvonne de Gaulle

A guest asked the French President’s wife what she was most looking forward to in her retirement. (Image: Getty)

But it was Queen Elizabeth’s humour that came to the rescue in an awkward encounter with the former First Lady of France Madame Yvonne de Gaulle.

And it soon became a story Philip was keen to tell friends, according to a royal author.

In an official visit to the United Kingdom between April 5 and April 8 in 1960, France’s third longest-serving President and his wife met with Queen Elizabeth.

Adam Helliker, a royal author who was formerly a journalist at the Daily Mail and Sunday Telegraph, revealed the story when he spoke to The Sun about de Gaulle’s state dinner at Buckingham Palace.

Queen and de Gaulles

Charles de Gaulle (right) visited the Queen (left) between April 5 and April 8 in 1960. (Image: Getty)

While the Queen is fluent in French, it turns out language barriers quickly emerged, leading to an awkward moment for Yvonne de Gaulle.

A guest asked the French President’s wife what she was most looking forward to in her upcoming retirement.

Helliker told The Sun: “With great elaboration, as she didn’t speak much English, she replied: ‘A penis’.”

“An awkward silence then ensued for some time, until the Queen herself came to the rescue, and she said with a broad grin: ‘Ah, happiness’.”

DofE smile

During an Elton John performance in 2001, Prince Philip said: “I wish he’d turn the microphone off.” (Image: Getty)

Given the French tend to drop the letter ‘h’ when speaking, it is hardly surprising de Gaulle’s wife made this hilarious gaffe.

This anecdote is said to have been a favourite for the Duke of Edinburgh.

And this is not the only time Her Majesty has cracked a joke or two.

Royal biographer Ingrid Seward previously revealed to ITV’s Loose Women how the pair shared much of their humour.

She claimed the Queen can mimic both the Scouse and Irish accent before adding: “I think the Queen is the comedian.”


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