‘STRENGTH’ BE­HIND THE THRONE

Prince Philip steps down from pub­lic du­ties

New Straits Times - - World -

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

PIC EPA

Prince Philip leav­ing Buck­ing­ham Palace in Lon­don yes­ter­day.

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