Prince Philip, 95, keeps calm but won’t carry on royal duty
For decades, he has stood loyally at the side of Queen Elizabeth II and made thousands of solo appearances as well. He calls himself the world’s most experienced unveiler of plaques.
He has been eligible for a government pension since June 10, 1986, yet still soldiered on.
Now, at age 95, Prince Philip says he is retiring from royal duties.
The queen’s husband said Thursday he will carry out scheduled engagements for the next few months but won’t take on new ones starting in the fall.
His retirement announcement followed a night of frenzied speculation caused by news reports about an “emergency’’ palace meeting Thursday.
Buckingham Palace said Philip, also known as the Duke of Edinburgh, made the decision to retire with the full support of the queen.
Tall, craggy-faced and always elegantly dressed, Philip is as famous for his occasional off-colour gaffes and one-liners as he is for his devotion to the monarch, and he joked about his retirement at an Order of Merit reception at St. James’s Palace.
“I’m sorry to hear you’re standing down,’’ said 88-yearold mathematician Michael Atiyah said, using the British expression for retirement.
“Well, I can’t stand up much longer,’’ Philip replied. He walked with his head held high, despite his self-deprecating claim.
Harvey Oyer, a Florida attorney who was invited to a Buckingham Palace lunch reception, told The Associated Press that Philip looked remarkably well.
“The big takeaway is there was no indication that this was a farewell,’’ Oyer said. “He did not look unhealthy in any way. He was as spry and humorous and engaging as he has always been.’’
Philip has made earlier concessions to age, announcing when he turned 90 in 2011 that he was “winding down’’ his official duties. He said at the time that he felt he had “done my bit.’’
Since then, he’s had some serious health issues, including a blocked heart artery, and has been hospitalized several times.
There were no indications that Philip suffers from any new health problems. The statement indicated Philip will carry out previously scheduled engagements between now and August.
Few would begrudge him a chance to take it easy after more than 22,000 solo royal engagements since Elizabeth ascended to the throne in 1952.
He quickly discovered he had no defined constitutional role and had to carve his own path, making it his top priority to support his wife in her considerable public endeavours.
While few were surprised that Philip is stepping back, tourists outside the imposing gates of Buckingham Palace expressed unhappiness about the news.
“He’s been an icon for so long, and I’ve really admired him, and it saddens me in a way,’’ said Grace Marie, who nonetheless said she understood his decision.
She said it was time for the younger royals to step into the spotlight.
There was praise for Philip from other parts of the Commonwealth. In Australia, where the queen is recognized as head of state, officials praised Philip’s tenacity.
“It says something about an individual that they get to the age of 95 before they decide to officially retire,’’ Australian Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce told reporters. “It’s something to aim for.’’
Philip, a member of the Greek royal family in exile, sacrificed a successful naval career to support Elizabeth when she became queen.
Britain’s Queen Elizabeth, right, and Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh arrive at Chapel Royal in St James’s Palace, London, for an Order of Merit service, Thursday.