At age 96, Britain’s Prince Philip makes his last solo appearance
Prince Philip, who on Wednesday made his final solo public appearance before retiring from his official duties as the consort of Queen Elizabeth II, recently quipped that he was “the world’s most experienced plaque-unveiler.”
He could be forgiven for finally taking a break.
He is, after all, 96. He and the queen plan to celebrate their 70th wedding anniversary in November. Since she ascended the throne in 1952, according to Buckingham Palace, he has had 22,219 solo engagements, given 5,496 speeches, and written 14 books — among them “Competition Carriage Driving.”
A native of Greece, Prince Philip courted the then-Princess Elizabeth during his time in the Royal Navy, a part of history that has captivated a new generation of Britons via the Netflix series “The Crown.” Their seven-decade marriage has seen Britain through postwar austerity, the creation of a welfare state, the loss of empire, entry into what became the European Union and, now, plans to exit it.
Prince Philip, also known as the Duke of Edinburgh, has been lauded for his perseverance and unwavering sense of duty, while weathering criticism for being gaffeprone and blunt.
His many defenders say he is merely a product of his generation.
Befitting a rugged former naval officer with a passion for the outdoors, he paid tribute on the grounds of Buckingham Palace to a group of Royal Marines who had just finished an athletic challenge including a 1,664-mile trek for charity.
Wearing a bowler hat and tanned jacket and appearing sprightly, he stood erect on an elevated stand, clasping his hands behind his back as the rain poured down and marines marched by. A band played “God Save the Queen,” a nod to his hardworking wife, age 91, the longest-reigning monarch in British history. She has no plans to retire.
Britain’s Prince Philip attends a parade at Buckingham Palace in the rain Wednesday.