Prince leaves Google red-faced

Britain’s Prince Philip, who has a long history of provoking embarrassing moments, unintentionally left Google chiefs red-faced this week, a report said on Friday.

The 87-year-old was visiting the online giant’s London headquarters on Thursday with Queen Elizabeth II, and its bosses were giving them a presentation of the signature Google Earth application.

Using Buckingham Palace as an example, they demonstrated how it could zoom in close to show astonishing detail of buildings, streets and even vehicles from a bird’s eye view.

Philip, always ready with polite questions at such functions, asked if it could beam in on Google’s own offices, the plush but relatively new buildings in which they were all gathered.

“Do you know where it is?” he asked, according to the Times account of the incident.

With a few mouse clicks, the computer screen scanned across the few hundred metres from Buckingham Palace to Belgrave House, Google’s HQ in nearby Buckingham Palace Road ... but it wasn’t there.

While surrounding streets could be seen, the space where Google should be was an empty site.

“It is just that the picture came from a time when it was a piece of land,” said Nikesh Arora, Google’s president for Europe, Middle East and Africa, refusing to show embarrassment, according to the Times.

Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, has long been notorious for outspoken comments and plain gaffes.

At one point during Thursday’s tour he asked a Google worker, dressed casually in hooded top, chinos and trainers like many of his colleagues: “Just come back from jogging?”

This was positively polite compared with past verbal faux pas.

These include: “Still throwing spears?”—asked of an Australian Aborigine during a 2002 visit; and, perhaps most famously: “If you stay here much longer, you’ll all be slitty-eyed,” to a group of British students during a state visit to China in 1986.—Sapa-AFP


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