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Prince Philip is a blockhead: Kohl
LAKSHMAN MENON  London | 18th Oct 2014

Helmut Kohl

Superannuated European politicians traditionally slide into well earned obscurity. But former German Chancellor, Helmut Kohl, has been jolted out of irrelevance by a new book, which portrays the famously dour Kohl as having an acerbic, if not acid, view of his contemporaries. Over 600 hours of Kohl's recorded conversations with the man he wanted to ghost-write his memoirs have been distilled into a bestselling book, The Kohl Protocols. His reminiscences may disconcert Britain's Prince Philip, whom Kohl describes as a "blockhead". He has a kinder opinion of Prince Charles, whom he regards as being "entirely friendly". But he was unimpressed by Charles' marriage to Lady Diana Spencer, calling it "an absolutely idiotic affair. Had she become queen immediately she would have done her bit in bed, created three princes and her duty to the nation would have been fulfilled. But like this she had to travel around, talk to mayors and so on and then she withered away." Kohl, Germany's Chancellor from 1982 to 1998, recorded the tapes with journalist Heribert Schwan but abandoned the project in 2002. Schwan was ordered by a court to return the tapes, but he made transcripts of them which he has now published without Kohl's permission. They reveal that Kohl had some favourites, Ronald Reagan being one. "Everyone thought he was a half-witted man, an actor ... [but] he was right in the way he dealt with Brezhnev," Kohl told Schwan. "He simply made it plain to him, 'If you arm yourselves, we will also arm ourselves. And then you will go bust because you can't keep up economically'." However, he was less enamoured of Bill Clinton. Commenting on Clinton's affair with Monica Lewinsky, he feared Clinton was not focusing on the civil war in Bosnia because he had been "fiddling with her knickers and now the whole world was only interested in those knickers". Kohl also admired the former Russian leader, and famous drunkard, Boris Yeltsin, compared to other, more restrained, international leaders, saying, "Drunk, he [Yeltsin] was a greater man than the sober ones." Of other German politicians, however, Kohl is almost uniformly scathing, dismissing Angela Merkel, his protégée, as being so gauche "she couldn't use a knife and fork".

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