Prince Philip fi­nally hang­ing it up

He makes Marines char­ity event his last solo pub­lic ap­pear­ance

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - NATIONAL - DAN­ICA KIRKA In­for­ma­tion for this ar­ti­cle was con­trib­uted by Sylvia Hui of The As­so­ci­ated Press.

LON­DON — Bri­tain’s Prince Philip, who for more than 65 years has been an un­wa­ver­ing pres­ence along­side Queen El­iz­a­beth II, made his fi­nal solo pub­lic ap­pear­ance Wed­nes­day, meet­ing Royal Marines who com­pleted a 1,664-mile trek to raise money for char­ity.

Philip, 96, waved to cheer­ing crowds and joked with the sol­diers at Buck­ing­ham Palace.

“You all should be locked up,” he quipped, mak­ing the sol­diers laugh.

Philip an­nounced in May that he was step­ping down from pub­lic du­ties. The royal, known for his sense of hu­mor and gaffes, re­cently joked about his big re­tire­ment day, telling celebrity chef Prue Leith, “I’m dis­cov­er­ing what it’s like to be on your last legs.”

Also known as the Duke of Ed­in­burgh, he will still ap­pear at Queen El­iz­a­beth II’s side — from time to time — as the 91-year-old monarch con­tin­ues on.

Philip is pa­tron, pres­i­dent or a mem­ber of more than 780 or­ga­ni­za­tions, with which he will con­tinue to be as­so­ci­ated — but he won’t play an ac­tive role by at­tend­ing en­gage­ments. The queen sup­ported his de­ci­sion.

Wed­nes­day’s event marked a land­mark for the man born Prince Philip of Greece and Den­mark in Corfu on June 10, 1921, to Princess Alice of Bat­ten­berg and Prince An­drew of Greece. Amid the up­heaval of the mil­i­tary coup that over­threw his uncle, King Con­stan­tine, in 1922, the fam­ily fled.

King Ge­orge V, the queen’s grand­fa­ther, sent a Royal Navy cruiser to evac­u­ate Philip’s fam­ily, and Philip was whisked to safety in a cot made from an or­ange box. Later, he rarely saw his par­ents and at­tended school in Ger­many and Bri­tain.

Philip has had a long as­so­ci­a­tion with the mil­i­tary and once had a promis­ing mil­i­tary ca­reer. He joined the Royal Navy as a cadet in 1939 and served dur­ing World War II, win­ning men­tion in dis­patches for ser­vice aboard the bat­tle­ship HMS Valiant at Cape Mat­a­pan on Greece’s Pelo­pon­nesian penin­sula. He rose to the level of com­man­der.

Two years af­ter the war ended, Philip mar­ried the fu­ture Bri­tish queen at West­min­ster Abbey when she was 21 and he was 26. He re­nounced his Greek ti­tle and King Ge­orge VI made him the Duke of Ed­in­burgh. His mil­i­tary ca­reer came to an abrupt end with Ge­orge’s death in 1952. At the queen’s corona­tion in 1953, Philip swore to be his wife’s “liege man of life and limb.” He set­tled into a life sup­port­ing El­iz­a­beth in her role as queen. The two have four chil­dren — Charles, Anne, An­drew and Ed­ward.

Philip has given 5,496 speeches, writ­ten 14 books and gone on 637 solo vis­its over­seas.

He’s cham­pi­oned en­vi­ron­men­tal and con­ser­va­tion mat­ters and has in­ter­ests in sci­ence, en­gi­neer­ing and in­dus­try. An ac­com­plished sports­man, he played polo reg­u­larly un­til 1971. He earned his Royal Air Force wings in 1953, his heli­copter wings in 1956 and his pri­vate pi­lot’s li­cense in 1959.

All that ac­tiv­ity has led to over­all good health. But Philip has been ad­mit­ted to the hos­pi­tal on a num­ber of oc­ca­sions over the past few years for ab­dom­i­nal surgery, and for treat­ment of blad­der in­fec­tions and a blocked coro­nary artery.

Many of his health prob­lems are re­lated to sports. He has arthri­tis in his right wrist and broke a bone in his an­kle from play­ing polo. He de­vel­oped a rheumatic con­di­tion of the ten­don in the hand af­ter tak­ing a fall while play­ing polo.

He takes the stairs rather than el­e­va­tors and can still fit into the uni­form he wore for his wed­ding. He was seen wear­ing hearing aids for the first time at a palace re­cep­tion in 2014 at the age of 93.

The palace says his health isn’t the rea­son for his re­tire­ment de­ci­sion.

Philip has poked fun at him­self and his ad­vanc­ing years. In a let­ter to The Oldie mag­a­zine in 2011, he said he ap­pre­ci­ated be­ing named “Con­sort of the Year.”

“There is noth­ing like it for morale to be re­minded that the years are pass­ing — ever more quickly — and that bits are be­gin­ning to drop off the an­cient frame,” he wrote. “But it is nice to be re­mem­bered at all.”

AP/YUI MOK

Bri­tain’s Prince Philip, in his role as cap­tain gen­eral of the Royal Marines, talks to troops as he at­tends a pa­rade on the fore­court of Buck­ing­ham Palace on Wed­nes­day in cen­tral Lon­don.

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