Prince Philip will today meet with delegates from China to discuss the wildlife crisis caused by the increased demand for traditional medicines made from endangered animals.

His meeting with China's State Administration for Religious Affairs at Buckingham Palace marks 26 years since the Duke of Edinburgh made his infamous "slitty-eyed" gaffe during a state visit to China.

During the trip, he told a group of British exchange students: "If you stay here much longer you'll all be slitty-eyed."

On the same trip, the Duke described Beijing as "ghastly", and made a series of controversial remarks during a meeting with the World Wildlife Fund.

Speaking about the Chinese, he told the WWF: "If it has got four legs and it is not a chair, if it has got two wings and it flies but is not an aeroplane, and if it swims and it is not a submarine, the Cantonese will eat it."

While his comments are often considered offensive, today's meeting will see Philip urging Chinese delegates to tackle the growing threat to wildlife.

Demand for endangered species such as tigers and elephants has soared in recent years, with many people in east Asia believing components in their bodies provide medical benefits

Other uses for these animals include aphrodisiacs and hangover cures.

A source close to the Duke told the Telegraph: "Prince Philip is not supportive of what he sees as the corruption of traditional Chinese medicine, where people are buying tiger penises for aphrodisiacs and rhino horns to cure cancer, despite the fact there is no proven medicinal quality.

Philippines must be half empty

"He is trying to encourage the Chinese government to support the Daoists in undermining the incorrect use of traditional Chinese medicine, which is killing the wildlife of the world."

Last month wildlife charity Traffic said rhino poaching is at its highest level in 20 years.

Bibhab Kumar Talukdar, from the International Union for Conservation of Nature, said: "Rhinos are killed for their horns, which are seen as highly desirable status symbols in parts of Asia, notably Vietnam, but also increasingly in China.

"Horns are also increasingly used for non-traditional purposes such as hangover cure and body detoxifyer, especially in Vietnam."

As well as wildlife protection, the Duke's meeting with the Chinese delegates will provide a boost in relations between the two countries.

During the visit, Daoist monks and nuns will perform a traditional blessing ritual at the palace.

Philip recently championed the Daoist religion as it banned the use of endangered species in remedies among followers.

Yesterday, Philip made another inappropriate comment during a visit to the Luton and Dunstable Hospital to open a heart centre.

According to the BBC, he told a Filipino nurse: "The Philippines must be half empty - you're all here running the NHS."