‘Af­ter 65 years of self­less ser­vice and more than 22,200 of­fi­cial en­gage­ments, Prince Philip is de­serv­ing of the na­tion’s grat­i­tude’

The Daily Telegraph - - Front page - By Pa­trick Sawer

WITH a typ­i­cal joke and a de­ter­mi­na­tion to see things through, the Duke of Ed­in­burgh yes­ter­day car­ried out his last of­fi­cial en­gage­ment be­fore retiring at the age of 96.

Af­ter more than 22,200 such en­gage­ments dur­ing his long ca­reer of pub­lic ser­vice, the Duke stepped onto the fore­court of Buck­ing­ham Palace, this time in his role as Cap­tain Gen­eral of the Royal Marines.

It is un­der­stood Prince Harry, his grand­son, is be­ing lined up to take over as the reg­i­ment’s Cap­tain Gen­eral, with se­nior mil­i­tary fig­ures keen for it to go to a mem­ber of the royal fam­ily who, like Philip, has seen com­bat.

The event was sym­bolic in more ways than one. Sixty-four years ago – in one of his first pub­lic roles upon the Corona­tion of the Queen in June 1953 – Prince Philip was ap­pointed Cap­tain Gen­eral of the Royal Marines in suc­ces­sion to the late King Ge­orge VI.

Yes­ter­day saw his last out­ing in that role when he at­tended a pa­rade to mark the fi­nale of the reg­i­ment’s 1664 Global Chal­lenge, which has seen men from the Royal Marines run­ning 16.64 miles around Bri­tain each day over 100 days and com­plet­ing a num­ber of sim­i­lar feats of en­durance.

And, true to form, the Duke had a char­ac­ter­is­tic assess­ment of the grit and de­ter­mi­na­tion that kind of phys­i­cal chal­lenge takes. “You should all be locked up,” he told them.

It is the kind of bluff, no-non­sense re­mark that will be fa­mil­iar to any­one who has met the Duke dur­ing the thou­sands of vis­its, plaque un­veil­ings, tours of hos­pi­tals and reg­i­men­tal in­spec­tions he has car­ried out over the years. It was no doubt this sort of at­ti­tude that yes­ter­day led the Prince to es­chew an um­brella and dis­pense with any sug­ges­tion of a rain­proof shel­ter, while tak­ing the pa­rade.

He spent a con­sid­er­able amount of time be­neath the rain talk­ing to mem­bers of the reg­i­ment, in­clud­ing those who had un­der­taken the chal­lenge.

Among them was Cpl Will Gin­gell, one of two Royal Marines to run the en­tire dis­tance of 1,664 miles, along with Sgt Matt Bur­ley, who swam 1,664 lengths un­der­wa­ter over 10 days and Lt Col Aldeiy Alder­son, who ran 100km in 12 hours wear­ing his uni­form and pol­ished boots.

Cpl Gin­gell, 33, from Hack­ney, said: “He was pretty up­beat con­sid­er­ing the weather and con­sid­er­ing he’s 96. He asked if we had rain run­ning down our backs at the end. We said to him we’ve run in worse weather.”

Every man and woman present was aware of the pa­rade’s sig­nif­i­cance, and a lusty cry rang out when RSM Phil Gilby barked the call for “three cheers for the Cap­tain Gen­eral”. In re­turn Prince Philip lifted his bowler hat and gave a lit­tle wave, in recog­ni­tion of the men un­der his com­mand.

Then – as the Ply­mouth Band of the Royal Marines played For He’s a Jolly Good Fel­low – he turned on his heels, waved and strode across the fore­court for the last time in his of­fi­cial ca­pac­ity, his duty to Queen and coun­try done.



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