Prince Philip bids adieu with final solo official duty
LONDON» For more than 65 years, he has been the unwavering presence alongside Britain’s longest-serving monarch, the consummate consort and royal representative.
On Wednesday Prince Philip, 96, made his 22,219th — and final — solo public engagement, braving heavy rain to meet Royal Marines at Buckingham Palace.
The royal appeared in good spirits, waving to cheering crowds and joking with the soldiers, who have completed a 1,664-mile trek to raise money for charity.
“You all should be locked up,” he quipped, making the soldiers laugh.
Philip announced he was stepping down from public duties in May. 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 soldiers on.
Philip is patron, president or a member of more 780 organizations, with which he will continue to be associated — but he won’t play an active role by attending engagements. The queen supported the decision.
Philip has given 5,496 speeches, written 14 books and gone on 637 solo visits overseas.
He has championed environmental and conservation issues and has interests in science, engineering and industry. An accomplished sportsman, he played polo regularly until 1971. He earned his RAF 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 in the past few years for abdominal surgery, bladder infections and a blocked coronary artery.