Thursday, August 15, 2013

Prince Philip, My Dear - Mighty Sparrow - Song lesson

On July 9th 1982, a man managed to climb up to the roof and get into Buckinham Palace, for the second time in a month. But this time, he also managed to get into the Queen's bedroom, where the Queen was sleeping alone. This lapse in security caused a big scandal in Britain at the time, and inspired Trinidadian calypso singer Mighty Sparrow to write a song very loosely based on the event. Do a couple of exercises and listen to the song.

Mighty Sparrow

Mighty Sparrow or Birdie (born Slinger Francisco, July 9, 1935, in Grandroy Bay, Grenada, West Indies) is a calypso singer, songwriter, and guitarist. Known as the 'Calypso King of the World,' he is one of the most well-known and successful calypsonians. He has won Trinidad's Carnival Road March competition nine times and has been named Calypso Monarch eight times, achieving both accolades more times than any other calypsonian.
Sparrow's lyrics are famous for being witty, ironic, and ribaldreferring to sex in a rude but humorous way (OALD). He also frequently comments on social and political issues in his songs. (Wikipedia)

The song

The song is definitely about 'what might have happened' rather than 'what did happen'. Mighty Sparrow lets his imagination runs wild, and uses double entendre
French for double meaning
a word or phrase that can be understood in two different ways, one of which usually refers to sex (OALD)
(some fairly explicit, especially in the chorus) to suggest a rather more intimate relationship between the Queen and the intruder than actually took place.
I haven't been able to find the lyrics anywhere, and the song is sung with a light dialect, so there are one or two places where I may be wrong. There is one phrase I just can't make out at all.


This is a style of Afro-Caribbean music which originated in Trinidad at about the start of the 20th century. The roots of the genre lay in the arrival of African slaves, who, not being allowed to speak with each other, communicated through song. This forged a sense of community among the Africans, who saw their colonial masters change rapidly, bringing French, Spanish and British music styles to the island of Trinidad.
The French brought Carnival to Trinidad, and calypso competitions at Carnival grew in popularity, especially after the abolition of slavery in 1834 . While most authorities stress the African roots of calypso, in his 1986 book Calypso from France to Trinidad, 800 Years of History veteran calypsonian The Roaring Lion (Rafael de Leon) asserted that calypso descends from the music of the medieval French troubadours.

The Rough Guide to Calypso and Soca

This is an excellent introduction to the music of Trinidad, which is where I first heard this song. It also has an excellent version of 'Joe le Taxi', by Sharlene Boodram. You can hear short extracts at the link below.

Background information on the incident

There are several links below to accounts of the incident. Probably the simplest are at the BBC and

Part 1 - Before listening

Vocabulary 1Match each picture with its caption.
All images are from Wikimedia Commons. Click on an image to see its original file and attribution.

Part 2 - The song

The songOption 1 - Look at the lyrics and try and choose the correct option for the missing words.
Option 2 - Start the video (link immediately after the exercise) and do it as a listening exercise

Prince Philip My Dear - Mighty Sparrow

Philip my dear
Last night I thought it was you in here
Where did you go?
Working for good old England
(on) all the action
My dear do you know?
There was a man in the bedroom
Wearing your shoes
Trying on the royal costume
in the royal perfume
I'm telling you true
There was a man in the bedroom
And dressed for a
And I thought it was you
He big just like you but younger
He thick like you but stronger
He linger like you but harder
He lay lay like you but further(?)
A man in the bedroom
He came on the bed to do
And I took him for you
The palace guards
Were playing hopscotch in the yard
the throne
Leaving this perfect stranger
The jewel was in danger
For I was alone
With a man in the bedroom
Loaded with brew (?)
Yes, this urchin
On top of me bed was
Like a cockatoo
A man in the bedroom
Sorry dear I misconstrued
When I him for you
He big just like you but younger, etc
In Buckingham
No one responded (to) the
So this plunderer
Displayed inside me boudoir
.. ? .. me for agriculture (?)
I stood there in awe
With a man in the bedroom
Seven feet or more
He told me 'Come hither and forward'
And all me good he soiled
He was so obscene
There was a man in me bedroom
So nasty and mean
Singing to me 'God do save de Queen'
He big just like you but younger, etc
I've suffered great
From this commoner
Instead of being free in London
He should be put in a dungeon
Under the Tower
There was a man in the bedroom
Enjoying the view
This immoral scoundrel
Son of a common mongrel;
Scared me through and through
There was a man in the bedroom
Your input was
And I thought it was you
He big just like you but younger, etc


Now got to YouTube to open the song in a new tab, start the video playing and come back here to follow the lyrics and check whether you were right.

Part 3 - After listening

Vocabulary 2Match these verbs from the song with their definitions.
1. fail to benefit from something useful or enjoyable by not taking part in it
2. stay somewhere for longer because you do not want to leave
3. leave somebody or something, especially when you are responsible for them or it
4. understand somebody's words or actions wrongly
5. make something dirty
6. sit on something, especially on the edge of it
Vocabulary 3Match the words from the song with their definitions.
1. bad smelling
2. to here (old-fashioned)
3. an area outside a building, usually with a hard surface and a surrounding wall
4. sense of respect and slight fear, especially when very impressed by something/somebody
5. a woman's small private room or bedroom
6. somebody you don't know
7. a young child who is poor and dirty, often one who has no home (old-fashioned)
8. somebody who steals things from a place, especially using force during a time of war
9. somebody who is not royalty or an aristocrat
10. a man who treats other people badly, especially by being dishonest or immoral (old-fashioned)
Vocabulary 4Use words from Exercises 1, 3 and 4, to fill the gaps. You only need one word for each gap.
1. Kate Middleton is thought to have been the first to marry the heir to the throne for 350 years.
2. Our dog isn't a pure-breed, it's a .
3. The Count of Monte Cristo spent many years locked up in a .
4. It's a fancy dress party, so you'll need to wear a of some sort.
5. Come on, children, keep up with us and don't behind.
6. She never listens properly and often tends to what I say.
7. She's furnished her bedroom with a sofa and a writing desk, and now calls it her '' .
8. Of course I'm going to the party. I don't want to out on all the fun.
9. Her respects her father enormously, in fact I think she is rather in of him.
10. Between lessons, the children would play in the in front of the school.
11. Way down in the street below, people could be seen darting and thither, like so many ants.
12. The street was covered in chalk marks, where the children had been playing .
13. You can put all your dirty in that basket over there, and I'll wash it later.
14. Or car got stuck in the snow, and we had to it where it was, and walk to the nearest village.
15. "You have behaved like a and a rogue", said the judge to the man accused of robbing several old women.

Answers to the exercises

Song exercise
Vocabulary exercises
All exercises


The incident

The song, and calypso music


Unknown said...

He lay lay like you but Badder

Unknown said...

So this plunderer
Displayed inside me boudoir
A tool make for agriculture
I stood there in awe

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