Prince Philip was rumored to be dead following a Twitter hoax that spread on March 18. The hoax, which spread in the midst of the coronavirus outbreak, was related to a quote that the prince, 98, had made about reincarnation. As a result of the hoax, Prince Philip’s name became a nationally trending topic on Twitter in the United Kingdom.
Typically, the Royal Family’s press office releases information regarding the deaths of members. At the time of writing, there has been no such notification. The most recent information involving Prince Philip says that he is living in Wood Farm which is located in the Sandringham Estate. The prince retired from public life in May 2017.
In May 2017, British tabloid The Sun mistakenly published a story online saying that the Prince had died. The headline read, “Prince Philip dead at 95, how did the Duke of Edinburgh die, etc etc.”
The Duke of Edinburgh’s ‘Quote’ Has Appeared in The Daily Telegraph & The Guardian
Many who spread the rumor about the death hoax mentioned a quote that is often attributed to the Duke of Edinburgh, “In the event that I am reincarnated, I would like to return as a deadly virus, to contribute something to solving overpopulation.”
The quote was published verbatim by The Guardian in June 2009 and by The Daily Telegraph in May 2017 as part of round-ups of the prince’s most infamous quotes. The only attribution given to the quote was that the prince said it in 1988.
Another version of the quote, “If I were reincarnated I would wish to be returned to earth as a killer virus to lower human population levels,” has also been circulated.
A Version of the Quote Appeared in the Foreword to the Book, ‘If I Were an Animal’
Heavy has been unable to find any evidence of the prince using those exact words. The closest phrasing came in the foreword that Prince Philip wrote for the 1986 book, “If I Were an Animal” by Fleur Cowles. The book saw over 100 celebrities answer Cowles’ question about what they would do if they were an animal. The answers came in the form of poems and short stories.
The prince’s foreword reads, “I just wonder what it would be like to be reincarnated in an animal whose species had been so reduced in numbers than it was in danger of extinction. What would be its feelings toward the human species whose population explosion had denied it somewhere to exist… I must confess that I am tempted to ask for reincarnation as a particularly deadly virus.”
The Prince Has Long Talked About the Problem of Overpopulation
Prince Philip has a long history of talking about overpopulation. In a 2008 television interview, the prince said, “It’s embarrassing and no one knows how to handle it because nobody wants their life interfered with by the government… overpopulation is to blame for many of the problems affecting millions of people around the world.”
In a 1981 interview with People Magazine, Prince Philip was asked what he felt was the biggest threat to the environment. The prince responded by saying, “Human population growth is probably the single most serious long-term threat to survival. We’re in for a major disaster if it isn’t curbed—not just for the natural world, but for the human world. The more people there are, the more resources they’ll consume, the more pollution they’ll create, the more fighting they’ll do. We have no option. If it isn’t controlled voluntarily, it will be controlled involuntarily by an increase in disease, starvation and war.”
During the same interview, Prince Philip cited the eradication of the mosquito that was causing a malaria outbreak in Sri Lanka in the 1940s as being partly responsible for the island’s overpopulation. The prince said, “What people didn’t realize was that malaria was actually controlling the growth of the population.”