British royal quips PH 'must be half empty'

The high number of Filipinos employed as health workers abroad had United Kingdom's Duke of Edinburgh wondering if the country was "half empty."

"The Philippines must be half empty--you're all here running the NHS (National Health Service)," the UK-based news site BBC quoted Prince Philip as saying.

The 91-year-old husband of Queen Elizabeth was addressing a Pinay nurse he met during a visit to Luton and Dunstable Hospital where he unveiled a new cardiac center.

But it wasn't the only joke the prince used at the hospital, whose administrators he urged to get a helipad to save him a journey by land.

The hospital's spokesperson, meanwhile, had been quoted as saying that the royal visit had been "hugely motivational."

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The spokesperson refused to comment on the "private conversation," however. So did the Buckingham Palace.

But the hospital did note that it has not conducted a recruiting campaign recently in the Philippines.

The report said, however, that 16,184 out of UK's 670,000 nurses are from the Philippines based on the country's Nursing and Midwifery Council.

Meanwhile, data from the Commission on Filipinos Overseas showed a two-digit increase in the number of Pinoys abroad in 2011.

A total of 10.46 million Pinoys are in 217 foreign countries and territories as of 2011, the commission earlier reported. This is a 10.7-percent increase from 9.45 million in 2010.

The number is also equivalent to more than a quarter (25.4 percent) of the country's workforce pegged at 41.94 million as per Labor department data.

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While some reports called it a "racist remark," BBC noted that the Duke of Edinburgh is "well known for his outspoken and sometimes controversial comments."

The report recalled how Prince Philip asked a group of British students during a 1986 visit to China: "If you stay here much longer, you'll all be slitty-eyed".

During a trip to Cayman Islands in 1994, he asked a native: "Aren't most of you descended from pirates?"

Speaking to a student who had been trekking in Papua New Guinea, the prince said in 1998: "You managed not to get eaten, then?"

 Related slideshow: Scenes from Queen Elizabeth's diamond jubilee

Photo by: Wpa Pool | Getty Images
Queen Elizabeth II waves from the Spirit of Chartwell during the Diamond Jubilee Thames River Pageant on June 3, 2012 in London, England.... more 
Photo by: Wpa Pool | Getty Images
Queen Elizabeth II waves from the Spirit of Chartwell during the Diamond Jubilee Thames River Pageant on June 3, 2012 in London, England. less 
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