At age 96, Bri­tain’s Prince Philip makes his last solo ap­pear­ance

Austin American-Statesman - - MORE OF TODAY’S TOP NEWS - Dan Bilefsky ©2017 The New York Times

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.

YUI MOK / AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Bri­tain’s Prince Philip at­tends a pa­rade at Buck­ing­ham Palace in the rain Wed­nes­day.

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