A royal re­tire­ment

Prince Philip, 96, to bid adieu to solo char­ity ap­pear­ances

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - FRONT PAGE - BY DAN­ICA KIRKA

After more than 65 years at the Queen’s side, Prince Philip, 96, bids adieu to solo char­ity ap­pear­ances

For over 65 years, he has been the un­wa­ver­ing pres­ence along­side Bri­tain’s long­est-serv­ing monarch, the con­sum­mate con­sort and royal rep­re­sen­ta­tive.

On Wed­nes­day Prince Philip made his 22,219th — and fi­nal — solo public en­gage­ment. He was meet­ing Royal Marines who have com­pleted a 1,664mile (2,678-kilo­me­tre) trek to raise money for char­ity.

After that, the Duke of Ed­in­burgh will still ap­pear at Queen El­iz­a­beth II’s side — from time to time — as the 91-year-old monarch soldiers on. In the mean­time, the man known for his quips and gaffes has al­ready been jok­ing about his big re­tire­ment day.

“I’m dis­cov­er­ing what it’s like to be on your last legs,” the 96-year-old Philip told celebrity chef Prue Leith at a re­cent palace event.

Philip is pa­tron, president or a mem­ber of over 780 or­ga­ni­za­tions, with which he will con­tinue to be as­so­ci­ated — but he won’t play an ac­tive role by at­tend­ing en­gage­ments. The queen sup­ported the de­ci­sion, which was greeted with an in­ter­na­tional press flurry when it was an­nounced in May.

The oc­ca­sion marks a ma­jor landmark for the man born Prince Philip of Greece and Den­mark in Corfu on June 10, 1921, to Princess Alice of Bat­ten­berg and Prince An­drew of Greece. Amid the up­heaval of the mil­i­tary coup that over­threw his un­cle, King Con­stan­tine, in 1922, the fam­ily fled.

King Ge­orge V, the queen’s grandfather, sent a Royal Navy cruiser to evac­u­ate Philip’s fam­ily and he was whisked to safety in a cot made from an or­ange box. Later, he rarely saw his par­ents and went to school in Ger­many and Bri­tain.

Philip has had a long as­so­ci­a­tion with the mil­i­tary and had once had promis­ing mil­i­tary ca­reer. He joined the Royal Navy as a cadet in 1939 and served dur­ing World War II, win­ning men­tion in dis­patches for ser­vice aboard the bat­tle­ship HMS Valiant at Cape Mat­a­pan, on Greece’s Pelo­pon­nesian penin­sula. He rose to the level of com­man­der.

Two years after the war ended, Philip mar­ried the fu­ture queen at West­min­ster Abbey when she was 21 and he was 26. He re­nounced his Greek ti­tle and King Ge­orge VI made him the Duke of Ed­in­burgh. His ca­reer came to an abrupt end with Ge­orge’s death in 1952. At the queen’s coro­na­tion in 1953, Philip swore to be his wife’s “liege man of life and limb.” He set­tled into a life sup­port­ing El­iz­a­beth in her role as queen and they had four chil­dren — Charles, Anne, An­drew and Ed­ward.

And ever since, the mile­stones just kept fall­ing.

Philip has given 5,496 speeches, writ­ten 14 books and gone on 637 solo vis­its over­seas.

He’s cham­pi­oned en­vi­ron­men­tal and con­ser­va­tion is­sues, and has in­ter­ests in science, engi­neer­ing and in­dus­try. An ac­com­plished sports­man, he played polo reg­u­larly un­til 1971. He earned his RAF wings in 1953, his he­li­copter wings in 1956 and his pri­vate pi­lot’s li­cence in 1959.

All that ac­tiv­ity has led to over­all good health. But Philip has been ad­mit­ted to the hospi­tal on a num­ber of oc­ca­sions in the last few years for ab­dom­i­nal surgery, blad­der in­fec­tions and a blocked coronary artery.

Many of his health is­sues are re­lated to sports. He has arthri­tis in his right wrist and broke a bone in his an­kle from play­ing polo. He de­vel­oped a rheumatic con­di­tion of the ten­don in the hand after a tak­ing a fall in polo.

He takes the stairs rather than el­e­va­tors and can still fit into the uni­form he wore for his wed­ding. He was only seen wear­ing hear­ing aids for the first time at a palace re­cep­tion in 2014 at the age of 93.

The palace says his health wasn’t be­hind the re­tire­ment de­ci­sion.

Philip, who en­joys a slightly wicked turn of phrase, has poked fun at himself and his ad­vanc­ing years. In a let­ter to The Oldie mag­a­zine in 2011, he said he ap­pre­ci­ated be­ing named “Con­sort of the Year.”

“There is noth­ing like it for morale to be re­minded that the years are pass­ing — ever more quickly — and that bits are be­gin­ning to drop off the an­cient frame,” he wrote. “But it is nice to be re­mem­bered at all.”


In this June 2, 1953 file photo, Queen El­iz­a­beth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Ed­in­burgh, wave to sup­port­ers from the bal­cony at Buck­ing­ham Palace, fol­low­ing her coro­na­tion at West­min­ster Abbey. Philip re­tired from solo of­fi­cial du­ties on Wed­nes­day at the age of 96.


Then Princess El­iz­a­beth stands with her hus­band Prince Philip and their chil­dren Prince Charles and Princess Anne at the cou­ple’s Lon­don res­i­dence at Clarence House in Au­gust 1951.


In this 1930 photo, Prince Philip of Greece, now the Duke of Ed­in­burgh, and hus­band of Queen El­iz­a­beth II, poses in Greek cos­tume, at an un­known lo­ca­tion.

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