The Duke of Edinburgh has joked about the number of Filipinos working in the NHS – telling a member of nursing staff that her country must now be “half-empty”, according to national media reports.
The duke, who is famed for his off-the-cuff remarks, is reported to have made the hospital worker from the Philippines laugh with his comment during a visit to a new cardiac centre in Bedfordshire.
BBC Online reported the Duke told the unnamed female staff member: “The Philippines must be half-empty – you’re all here running the NHS.”
His remark came during a visit to Luton and Dunstable University Hospital Foundation Trust on Tuesday, where he officially opened a multimillion-pound cardiac centre.
A spokeswoman for the foundation trust described the royal visit as a huge boost for staff morale and said the duke was in a jovial mood, making jokes throughout his tour.
Prince Philip had a stent fitted to clear a blockage in a coronary artery in December 2011. When, during the visit, he was given a gold plated stent, he quipped that he now had a spare.
The trust spokesman added: “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.”
Buckingham Palace said it did not comment on private conversations.