Alaster Ashby claimed the prince was just "having a laugh".

There might be a winning late entry for 2017’s ‘Most Well Humoured Builder’.

On the morning of New Year’s Eve, the infamously flippant Prince Philip was leading a group of royals on their way to church at Sandringham. He and his posse had been greeting the locals, when suddenly the Duke of Edinburgh spotted one Alaster Ashby.

Seeing’s the builders beard, the royal asked his bodyguard: “Is that a terrorist?”

Now, I’m sure we don’t have to tell you that the prince’s words put him squarely in the crosshairs of 2018’s first internet lynch mob.

Still, this is Prince Philip we’re talking about: the guy who once asked a disabled bloke how many people he’d “knocked over” with his mobility scooter. Part of me is wondering if anyone had the foresight to bet on whether he could fit another controversy in before the year ended.

Oddly enough, however, Mr Ashby has taken the comment on the (now famous) chin. A witness to the gaffe even said that he “burst out laughing” at the question.

Mr Ashby told The Sun: “Some people were saying he had mistaken a hipster for a terrorist, but I'm not a hipster - I don't know what one is. I live in Norfolk, not London.”

He did have a fair point there.

“I'm just a builder. I've only had a beard for a few weeks,” he continued.

“If you have a beard you get stigmatised as a terrorist, that's the trouble.”

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