Prince Philip, 95, keeps calm but won’t carry on royal duty

Cape Breton Post - - World -

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.

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