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

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
  • Get to the point
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

Guru Careers: .NET Developer / Web Developer

£35-45K (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a .NET Developer / Web ...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Accountant

£12000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A national firm of chartered ce...

Recruitment Genius: Full Time and Part Time Digital Designer - North Kent

£20000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This successful web design/deve...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £25000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Are you great at building rela...

Day In a Page

Revealed: Why Mohammed Emwazi chose the 'safe option' of fighting for Isis, rather than following his friends to al-Shabaab in Somalia

Why Mohammed Emwazi chose Isis

His friends were betrayed and killed by al-Shabaab
'The solution can never be to impassively watch on while desperate people drown'
An open letter to David Cameron: Building fortress Europe has had deadly results

Open letter to David Cameron

Building the walls of fortress Europe has had deadly results
Tory candidates' tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they seem - you don't say!

You don't say!

Tory candidates' election tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they appear
Mubi: Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash

So what is Mubi?

Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash all the time
The impossible job: how to follow Kevin Spacey?

The hardest job in theatre?

How to follow Kevin Spacey
Armenian genocide: To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie

Armenian genocide and the 'good Turks'

To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie
Lou Reed: The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths

'Lou needed care, but what he got was ECT'

The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond
Migrant boat disaster: This human tragedy has been brewing for four years and EU states can't say they were not warned

This human tragedy has been brewing for years

EU states can't say they were not warned
Women's sportswear: From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help

Women's sportswear

From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help
Hillary Clinton's outfits will be as important as her policies in her presidential bid

Clinton's clothes

Like it or not, her outfits will be as important as her policies
NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders