Arabic? It's all Greek to me, says Prince Charles on latest leg of his Middle East tour

 

The Prince of Wales has been having lessons in Arabic. But on a visit to Doha, in Qatar, he told guests that the language, which he has been learning for six months, “goes in one ear and out the other”.

Charles was attending the launch of the Qatar-UK Alumni Network, for Qataris who have attended British universities, when he told guests: “You all speak such good English.”

Dr Mohammed Bin Saleh Al-Sada, chairman of the association and Qatar’s Energy Minister, asked the Prince if he spoke any Arabic, and the Prince said: “I tried to learn it once but I gave up. It goes in one ear and out the other.” Dr Sada told him: “It’s never too late to learn.”

But an aide to the Prince confirmed he had been having lessons in Arabic recently, and is “enormously interested in the region”. The Royal Family are often deployed in diplomatic dealings with Arabic countries, where monarchies are still in place which prefer to deal with Princes than with diplomats or elected officials.

The Prince and his wife the Duchess of Cornwall are due to visit Saudi Arabia today on the next leg of their tour of the region.

Buckingham Palace held a state banquet for King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia in 2007, which the then acting Liberal Democrat leader Vince Cable refused to attend on the grounds of the country’s human rights record. The Prince also speaks some French, some German and, on account of his 55 years as the Prince of Wales, has also had some lessons in Welsh.

One of his two A-Levels was in French, in which he gained a grade C. The other was a B in History, but together they were sufficient to gain a place at Cambridge University, from where he graduated with a 2:2 in archaeology and anthropology.

His mother, the Queen, speaks fluent French, and regularly does so on state occasions and in telephone calls with foreign leaders.

But it was a language that didn’t always come easy to her. As a little girl, she threw something of a tantrum at the hired French teaching madamoiselle, who made her write out endless columns of verbs, as her former governess Marion Crawford recalled.

“One day, I heard curious sounds emerging from the schoolroom and popped in. Poor mademoiselle was transfixed with horror,” she said last year. “Lilibet, goaded by boredom to violent measures, had picked up a big silver inkpot and, without any warning, tipped it over her own head.”

With the middle-east and its oil rich city states emerging as ever more significant centres, the number of Arabic speakers in the UK is increasing, as are the number of Britons tempted by higher incomes and, in the case of Dubai and Abu Dhabi, zero income tax.

How do you Doha? Prince’s phrasebook

Whatever ‘in love’ means Hasab ya’ani “fil hibb”

How are you today Mr Geranium? Kayf Haalak al yawm, as-sayyid Geranium?

Just the seven eggs this morning please Bass al saba’a bayd hatha al masa’a, min fadlak

Anyone for a Duchy’s original bacon sandwich? Yureed shachs sandweesh al khanzeer “Duchy” al assli?

Translations rendered into Arabic, in Latin alphabet

Life and Style
A teenager boy wakes up.
life
Life and Style
It is believed that historically rising rates of alcohol consumption have contributed to the increase
food + drink
Voices
The erotic novel Fifty Shades of Grey has already been blamed for a rise in the number of callouts to the fire brigade for people trapped in handcuffs
voicesJustine Elyot: Since Fifty Shades there's no need to be secretive about it — everyone's at it
Arts and Entertainment
Critics say Kipling showed loathing for India's primitive villagers in The Jungle Book
filmChristopher Walken, Bill Murray, Scarlett Johanssen Idris Elba, Andy Serkis, Benedict Cumberbatch, Cate Blanchett and Christian Bale
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
Playing to win: for Tanith Carey, pictured with Lily, right, and Clio, even simple games had to have an educational purpose
lifeTanith Carey explains what made her take her foot off the gas
Arts and Entertainment
The White Sails Hospital and Spa is to be built in the new Tunisia Economic City.
architectureRussian billionaire designs boat-shaped hospital for new Dubai-style Tunisia Economic City
Arts and Entertainment
You could be in the Glastonbury crowd next summer if you follow our tips for bagging tickets this week
music
Life and Style
tech
Extras
indybest
Life and Style
food + drink
News
i100
News
i100
Life and Style
Bearing up: Sebastian Flyte with his teddy Aloysius in Brideshead Revisited
lifePhilippa Perry explains why a third of students take a bear to uni
Arts and Entertainment
Sir Alan Sugar appearing in a shot from Apprentice which was used in a Cassette Boy mashup
artsA judge will rule if pieces are funny enough to be classed as parodies
Arts and Entertainment
film
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Java Developer - web services, XML and API

£330 - £350 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Lond...

Primary teachers required for schools in Norwich

£21000 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Primary teachers requ...

Trainee Helpdesk Analyst / 1st Line Application Support Analyst

£18000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and growing IT Consultancy fir...

Data Analyst / Marketing Database Analyst

£24000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and growing IT Consultancy fir...

Day In a Page

Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

Last chance to see...

The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

Truth behind teens' grumpiness

Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

Hacked photos: the third wave

Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?
Royal Ballet star dubbed 'Charlize Theron in pointe shoes' takes on Manon

Homegrown ballerina is on the rise

Royal Ballet star Melissa Hamilton is about to tackle the role of Manon
Education, eduction, education? Our growing fascination with what really goes on in school

Education, education, education

TV documentaries filmed in classrooms are now a genre in their own right
It’s reasonable to negotiate with the likes of Isis, so why don’t we do it and save lives?

It’s perfectly reasonable to negotiate with villains like Isis

So why don’t we do it and save some lives?
This man just ran a marathon in under 2 hours 3 minutes. Is a 2-hour race in sight?

Is a sub-2-hour race now within sight?

Dennis Kimetto breaks marathon record
We shall not be moved, say Stratford's single parents fighting eviction

Inside the E15 'occupation'

We shall not be moved, say Stratford single parents
Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

Talks between all touched by the crisis in Syria and Iraq can achieve as much as the Tornadoes, says Patrick Cockburn
Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

The Tory MP speaks for the first time about the devastating effect of his father's bankruptcy
Witches: A history of misogyny

Witches: A history of misogyny

The sexist abuse that haunts modern life is nothing new: women have been 'trolled' in art for 500 years
Shona Rhimes interview: Meet the most powerful woman in US television

Meet the most powerful woman in US television

Writer and producer of shows like Grey's Anatomy, Shonda Rhimes now has her own evening of primetime TV – but she’s taking it in her stride
'Before They Pass Away': Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'

Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'

Jimmy Nelson travelled the world to photograph 35 threatened tribes in an unashamedly glamorous style