‘STRENGTH’ BEHIND THE THRONE
Prince Philip steps down from public duties
PRINCE Philip, whose retirement from public duties was announced yesterday, has been Queen Elizabeth II’s loyal husband for almost 70 years but has often hit the headlines for his salty off-thecuff comments.
The 95-year-old Duke of Edinburgh is patron, president or a member of almost 800 organisations, and has accompanied his wife on countless British and overseas engagements.
Five years ago, he said he believed he had “done his bit”, and now, despite continued robust health, he has decided to step back altogether.
Prince Philip has been by the queen’s side since their marriage in 1947, before she became monarch.
They share a sense of duty and tradition as well as a great-greatgrandmother, queen Victoria.
In a 1997 speech marking their golden wedding anniversary, she said he has, “quite simply, been my strength and stay all these years”.
He has stolen the limelight more than a few times with his outspoken remarks, some of them embarrassingly politically incorrect gaffes.
“You managed not to get eaten, then?” was one typical remark to a British student who had trekked in Papua New Guinea in 1998.
“Still throwing spears?” he asked an Australian Aborigine during a 2002 visit.
But observers say his quips put people at ease, while also providing a welcome contrast to the queen’s seriousness.
Philip met the then Princess Elizabeth just before the outbreak of World War 2, and they exchanged letters while he served with the Royal Navy.
After their marriage, they spent time in Malta, where he was posted — only for their lives to be changed overnight by the premature death of her father, king George VI, in 1952. AFP
Prince Philip leaving Buckingham Palace in London yesterday.