Prince Andrew was today accused of using the phrase ‘n***er in the woodpile’ and a colonial-era slur about ‘playing the white man’ during Buckingham Palace meetings with a top British Asian aide from No 10.
Rohan Silva, who worked for David Cameron, has blasted the Duke of York and said he was left ‘reeling at the prince’s use of language’.
Mr Silva, who is a tech entrepreneur who also writes for the Evening Standard, told the newspaper that he met Andrew in 2012 and asked him if he felt the Government ‘could be doing a better job’ on boosting trade with the world.
Andrew then allegedly responded: ‘Well, If you’ll pardon the expression, that really is the n***** in the woodpile’, upsetting Mr Silva, who is of Sri Lankan descent.
A year earlier, Mr Silva said he met the Duke of York and on that occasion the Duke allegedly told him: ‘You’ll never get anywhere by playing the white man’ – an offensive term commonly used in Victorian Britain during the colonial period.
Prince Andrew (left in his disastrous BBC interview) was today accused of using the phrase ‘n***er in the woodpile’ during a meeting at Buckingham Palace with a British Asian adviser to No 10, Rohan Silva (right)
Origins of the toxic ‘n***er in the woodpile’ phrase
Once bandied around casually, the phrase ‘n***** in the woodpile’ originated in America in the mid-19th century before the abolition of slavery.
Collins English Dictionary defines the phrase – which it calls ‘old-fashioned and offensive’ – as ‘a hidden snag or hindrance’. The Oxford English Dictionary defines it as ‘a concealed motive or unknown factor affecting a situation in an adverse way’.
The Oxford Dictionary of Slang says the phrase, which it calls ‘now taboo’, is ‘applied to an unsuspected or hidden factor that has an adverse effect’.
How it first came into use is not entirely clear. Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable says the phrase ‘was originally a way of accounting for the disappearance of fuel. It then came to be used for any hidden snag or problem’. The reference to ‘disappearance of fuel’ is thought to allude to an outdated and prejudiced racist belief about the frequency with which black people stole property from whites.
Another theory about the phrase’s origin is that it alluded to escaped slaves who concealed themselves behind or in woodpiles to escape capture.
It came as Andrew’s reputation took a major battering over his disastrous interview with the BBC on Saturday where he floundered as he was asked to explain his friendship with Jeffrey Epstein and claims he had sex with one of his young ‘slaves’.
Buckingham Palace sources have said Andrew would never use racist language.
But Mr Silva, 38, told the newspaper: ‘I walked blinking into the sunshine outside Buckingham Palace, reeling at the prince’s use of language.
He added: ‘For a long time afterwards I kicked myself for not confronting the prince on his choice of words — and it’s something I still regret today. After all, he clearly wasn’t taken to task very often by the people around him, which meant offensive language went unchallenged.’
He added that a year earlier Andrew said a year earlier: ‘You’ll never get anywhere by playing the white man’ when the discussed whether Mr Cameron could get the EU to reform,
Mr Silva said: ‘I genuinely didn’t know what he meant, and the discussion moved on. But the phrase “playing the white man” stuck in my head, as I’d never heard it before. I immediately Googled it.
‘The definition flashed up on my screen: an old-fashioned saying, used during colonial times, meaning that only white people can be trusted to follow the rules, unlike dark-skinned natives’.
Prince Andrew is facing an extraordinary backlash over his BBC interview, which Prince Charles’ former PR chief Dickie Arbiter described as: ‘Not so much a car crash but an articulated lorry crash’. Mr Arbiter said he must ‘take a break’ from royal duties, adding: ‘What charity wants a VIP guest with this hanging over him?’
His older brother Charles has reportedly been urged to consider downgrading the Duke of York’s status as a working royal when he takes to the throne because of the damage he has caused to the royal family’s reputation.
It comes after the Prince’s ‘car crash’ BBC interview. Sources close to the Duke of York said he wanted to address the issues head-on and did so with ‘honesty and humility’, despite a enormous backlash slamming him for a series of increasingly egregious remarks to Emily Maitlis
Prince Andrew is pictured with Epstein in Central Park in New York in February 2011. The Duke has been dragged deeper into the Epstein scandal following his apparent suicide in a New York jail
Prince Andrew is seen smiling with American socialite Chris Von Aspen, who cups his face as they pose for photographs. The two seemed enamored with each other in the photographs
Viewers described watching Andrew’s grilling by Emily Maitlis from behind their sofas as he denied having sex with Virginia Roberts because he was in Pizza Express in Woking.
He suggested that the world-famous picture of his arm around Ms Roberts’ waist at Ghislaine Maxwell’s London mews house could be faked as he denied ever meeting her.
Miss Roberts’ evidence that he sweated ‘profusely’ on the three occasions she claims they gad sex were explained away by the duke claiming a rush of adrenaline while being shot at during the Falklands conflict in 1982 made it impossible for him to perspire.
A royal source claimed last night he has defiantly told his mother the Queen that his appearance on the BBC Two Newsnight special was largely a ‘great success’ – but a friend told the Mail he ‘regretted’ not expressing sympathy for Jeffrey Epstein’s victims in his disastrous TV interview.
Today former royal protection officer said it went so badly for Prince Andrew it should spark a police investigation.
Dai Davies said he and the millions who watched would be ‘utterly unconvinced’ by the duke’s denial that he slept with a teenager, or even met her. He said that he displayed ‘classic signs’ of someone not telling the truth amd told the Mirror: ‘It beggars belief the stupidity of his answers.’