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Buckingham Palace denies Prince Philip 'sponger' gaffe

world Updated: Mar 26, 2009 23:27 IST
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Buckingham Palace denied that Prince Philip had made another of his notorious gaffes by calling pop impresario Simon Cowell a "sponger" who feeds off the stars on his shows.

Cowell, who draws huge ratings for his programmes including "The X Factor", "Britain's Got Talent" and its US spin-off "America's Got Talent", also alleges that Prince Philip's husband Queen Elizabeth II ignored him at the same event.

Prince Philip, who is well-known for his unguarded comments over the years, allegedly made the remark while chatting to performers after a Royal Variety Show in London in December 2007.

"It was actually embarrassing, I was on a show where she (the Queen) comes on (at) the end of the show and you have to stand around for hours," Cowell reportedly told "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" earlier this week.

"It is called the Royal Variety Show, so she is in the audience. At the end, if you are involved in it, you have to stand around for hours and then say 'hello', and she ignored me and her husband called me a sponger."

Cowell added: "I think he was trying to be rude. I just mumbled something and he walked off."

But a Buckingham Palace spokeswoman denied the comments.

"The Duke of Edinburgh categorically did not call Mr. Cowell a sponger. He has no reason to. He has said he does not know enough about Mr. Cowell to make any sort of comment about him," she said.

"Mr. Cowell may have misheard the duke, he has a very soft voice."

And she added: "The Queen doesn't ignore people. She has many people to meet after such a show."

The 87-year-old prince is well known for undiplomatic off-hand remarks, which have included:

- "Still throwing spears?" (a question to an Australian Aborigine during a 2002 visit)

- "You managed not to get eaten, then?" (to a student who had been trekking in Papua New Guinea, 1998).

- "Aren't most of you descended from pirates?" (asking a Cayman Islander about his heritage, 1994)

- "If you stay here much longer, you'll all be slitty-eyed." (to a group of British students on a state visit to China, 1986.)