Prince Philip leads tributes to ‘genius’ Telegraph cartoonist Matt as he celebrates his 30th anniversary

The Duke of Edinburgh has paid tribute to the “genius” of the Telegraph’s Matt, as Britain’s leading public figures celebrate the cartoonist’s 30th anniversary at this newspaper.

The Duke, a collector and long-term supporter of the art form, expressed his admiration for Matt in a personal message, in which he praises his “ability to think of wonderfully appropriate swipes at the idiocies of contemporary life”.

He today leads tributes to the “30th birthday” of Matt as a Telegraph cartoonist, joined by Theresa May, every living former Prime Minister, Britain’s finest broadcasters, writers and best-loved figures from the arts.

Mrs May, the Prime Minister, sent her personal congratulations to Matt for helping politicians to “laugh at ourselves”, while David Cameron revealed he enjoyed one cartoon poking fun at him so much it is mounted on the wall of his daughter’s bedroom.

Sir John Major praised his talent for capturing each moment “magnificently” with “gentle, understated humour”, as Sir Tom Stoppard admitted: “Matt has entered my brain.  Sometimes on reading a news story I wonder idly, ‘What would Matt do with this?'”

Matt Pritchett

Matt Pritchett

Jane Mingay

National treasures from John Humphrys to Jilly Cooper have selected their favourite drawings, with Newsnight’s Evan Davis declaring that, in a crowded field of British cartoonists, there are “none better”.

The Duke of Edinburgh, the patron of the Cartoon Museum whose retirement from public duties at the age of 96 this year was marked with a Matt cartoon reading “Unveil your own damn plaque”, has sent a hand-signed congratulatory message.

“Successful cartoonists do not only need to be able to draw, they have to think of subjects to illustrate,” he said.

“Matt has shown that he has a genius for both, as well as the ability to think of wonderfully appropriate swipes at the idiocies of contemporary life.”

The Duke of Edinburgh joked he is the world's most experienced plaque unveiler shortly before his retirement

The Duke of Edinburgh joked he is the world’s most experienced plaque unveiler shortly before his retirement


Matt's cartoon commemorating the retirement of the Duke of Edinburgh

Matt’s cartoon commemorating the retirement of the Duke of Edinburgh


Matt Pritchett, who has been known under the pen name of Matt since February 1988, has created more than 8,000 Telegraph cartoons, each capturing the absurdities of everyday life with sharp humour and a gentle touch.

The Telegraph will be celebrating “30 Years of Matt” with a special Saturday magazine edition featuring an interview with the man himself, with a four-page souvenir cover wrap showcasing 90 of his favourite cartoons on Monday.

This website will have a gallery of the cartoons, as well as videos from celebrities showing off their favourite and personalised drawings.

Chris Evans, Telegraph editor, said: “In an unpredictable world, our readers know that Matt’s cartoon can be relied on to lift their spirits and make them smile. All of us at The Telegraph are delighted to celebrate 30 incredible years of cartoons with him.”

Reflecting on the last 30 years, Matt Pritchett said: “Time flies when you’re panicking about tomorrow’s cartoon.”

Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour leader, was also invited to join the anniversary celebrations. His team politely declined, saying none of the Matt cartoons they had seen about Mr Corbyn were funny.

A message from Prince Philip

A message from Prince Philip
Theresa May, Prime Minister 2016 to present

Theresa May's favourite cartoon

Theresa May’s favourite cartoon


“Matt sent this cartoon to me and I have it in my office in Downing Street. It exemplifies how great he is at taking major political events and seeing the humour in them.  It’s always good for politicians to laugh at ourselves and he helps us to do that.”

David Cameron, Prime Minister 2010 to 2016

David Cameron's favourite cartoon, about the day he left his daughter in the pub

David Cameron’s favourite cartoon, about the day he left his daughter in the pub


“I love this cartoon – as does my family. So much so that my daughter, Nancy, has it displayed on her bedroom wall.

“Matt has always been one of my favourites – the way in which he manages to get to the very heart of a scandal or issue with such a light touch and in a very comic way is genius. 

“I’ve been so fortunate that he agreed to design a few of my recent Christmas cards – always poking fun at me; my friends and family love it!

“I hope Matt has many more years of drawing ahead of him – to highlight the national mood; embarrass politicians and public figures alike; and carry on delighting us all.”

Gordon Brown, Prime Minister 2007 to 2010

“Cartoonists often get far nearer to the truth than other commentators and over 30 tumultuous years Matt Pritchett has consistently demonstrated exactly that. 

“If, as it is said, a picture can paint a thousand words, then a pocket cartoon conjured up by Matt can regularly do even more.”

Tony Blair, Prime Minister 1997 to 2007

Tony Blair's favourite cartoon

Tony Blair’s favourite cartoon


“Even when I was the subject of a Matt cartoon I always found them brilliant, witty and pointed without being offensive. And still do. I loved the fox one. It has about five different messages in one single picture.”

Sir John Major, Prime Minister 1990 to 1997

Sir John Major's favourite cartoon

Sir John Major’s favourite cartoon


He says: “Matt has a gift for gentle, understated humour, which I have enjoyed for many years. In the 1990s, when I was under heavy press bombardment, Matt produced a cartoon of a newspaper billboard reading: ‘Queen falls off horse: Prime Minister not involved’. It caught the moment magnificently.”

David Davis, Exiting the European Union secretary

A favourite of both David Davis and John Humphrys

A favourite of both David Davis and John Humphrys


“Matt’s cartoons never fail to raise a smile, but can also cut right to the serious heart of their subject matter. They encapsulate the best of the British press: intelligent, persuasive, irreverent and funny. They are daily reminder to all of us in public life of the importance of keeping ones sense of humour.”

Liam Fox, International Trade secretary

“The thinking man’s cartoonist – politically on the nail and funny to boot.”

Jeremy Vine, broadcaster

Vine admitted his “life’s ambition” is to have a Matt cartoon about him.

“There’s something about having that one cartoon in the day’s papers, full of all the carnage and misery,” he said. “There’s this little window, and even if this whole country is hit by a nuclear bomb they’ll still be a Matt cartoon the morning after, and we’ll still laugh.”

Evan Davis, broadcaster and Newsnight host

David said, when reading the newspapers each morning, “I absolutely promise the Matt cartoon was the thing I looked at first”.

“It’s a gentle way in to the newspaper: you’re about to be assailed by all the kind of bad news…to make all of that more bearable, you’ll want it to start with the gentle wit of a cartoon…none greater than Matt himself.”

Jilly Cooper, bestselling author

“Like a sunrise, he lifts the heart.

“He’s achingly funny, but also he’s very good at characterisation. He seems to get the moment and just illustrate people so brilliantly.

“They make me laugh for days afterwards.”

Gyles Brandreth, writer and actor

“I think he’s a genius. We have a wide range of brilliant cartoonists in this country; no country can compare with ours. The leader of the pack is undoubtedly – and has been since the beginning of his work for The Telegraph 30 years ago – Matt.

“He is the national cartoon.”

John Humphrys, BBC Radio 4 Today programme presenter

Humphrys said of his favourite cartoon, about UK Brexit negotiators: “Doesn’t that absolutely say it all? It’s just so perfect.

“The great thing about Matt’s cartoons is that the characters are us. They do something that writers can’t do, they take you to a different place.”

Sir Tom Stoppard, playwright: 

“Matt has entered my brain.  Sometimes on reading a news story I wonder idly, ‘What would Matt do with this?’

“A pocket cartoon doesn’t grow on you, it jolts the laugh out of you by making a connection just before you might have made it yourself. 

“Now and again I think up my own Matt cartoon. When the founder of Ikea died I thought of a Matt chap scratching his head over the instructions for assembling a flat-pack coffin. 

Matt Pritchett

Matt at work

Jane Mingay

“But even if I’d had his phone number I would have known better than to try it on him. Max Beerbohm once wrote how he’d written a song for a favourite music hall performer, and at the last moment decided not to send it to him because, he said, to hit the bull’s eye you’d have to  be  him. 

“Still less would I have been able to draw the joke; which is the other thing about Matt: how does he do it?  I have often stared at his faces, wondering how something so “wrong” could be so right, how a pair of eyebrows and half a chin can conjure  not just a face but an inner life. 

“The art of cartooning is not Matt’s alone, of course, but when it comes to having the right thought, Matt is on his own.” 

The Saturday Telegraph Magazine celebrates Matt

The Saturday Telegraph Magazine celebrates Matt

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