Prince Philip bids adieu with fi­nal solo of­fi­cial duty

The Denver Post - - NEWS - By Dan­ica Kirka

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.

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