The Daily Telegraph
‘He was a 31in waist when I first measured him and he’s now a 34...incredible’
Regular exercise, a moderate diet and sheer will power have kept Prince Philip in shape
By THERE are not many men who can still fit into the suit they wore on their wedding day, but it is a measure of the Duke of Edinburgh’s astonishing good health and vitality that he can make such a bold claim.
Prince Philip is considered to be in remarkably good shape and his secret appears to be deceptively simple – regular exercise, a moderate diet and a good dose of sheer will power.
Like any person his age the Duke has had the occasional health scare, but their rarity has only served to highlight his general fitness and longevity.
Those who know Prince Philip say none of this is an accident. He works at keeping fit and, in a reflection of his days serving in the Royal Navy, has remained determined never to let himself go.
As Ingrid Seward, editor of Majesty Magazine, agazine, said on the occasion of his 90th birthday: “He is a man who has always looked after himself and taken care of his body. He’s someone who enjoys physical activity and he’s incredibly physically fit. He’s very careful about what he eats. If he puts on any weight at all, he will make sure he loses it.”
The Duke, along with Prince Charles, is understood to undertake his own health and fitness regime, based on the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) 5BX plan, first developed to help cadets get fit.
This can be carried out in a restricted space, with no warm up or equipment required, using five basic exercises to strengthen every muscle in the body.
The Duke also prefers to walk and take the stairs wherever he can, and can still be seen behind the reins of a horse carriage in the grounds of Windsor Great Park.
Prince Philip took up carriage driving in 1971 after retiring from polo at the age of 50 because of an arthritic wrist. He used to compete in events such as the Inter- national Grand Prix in the Royal Windsor Horse Show, but now chooses to put the ponies through their paces for fun. It was only when he reached the age of 82 that Philip decided for the first time not to take part in the Trooping the Colour ceremony on horseback. Instead, he travelled in a carriage with the Queen. Buckingham Palace has long refused to elaborate on the specifics of the Duke’s exercise regime, but confirms he is a keen walker and adds “it takes quite a lot of strength to control two or three ponies pulling a carriage”. With every passing birthday the Duke’s diet has been the subject of repeated speculation. Those who have been able to observe him at close quarters say it is generally a low carbohydrate regime, similar to the Atkins-diet. He is thought to prefer black coffee, rarely drinking tea of any sort, and enjoys the occasional fry-up for breakfast, though he also likes to start the day with oatcakes with honey. The Duke consumes small amounts of alcohol and one biographer observed that he is partial to a pale ale at lunchtime. Prince Philip’s long-standing personal tailor has vouched for the fact that he can still fit into the same naval uniform he wore on his wedding day. John Kent, of the small Piccadilly firm Kent, Haste & Lachter, which has made the Duke’s suits for half a century, said: “He’s got a fabulous physique. There’s not an ounce of fat on him, which is why he wears his clothes so well. He’s very well proportioned. He’s got fairly long legs, and he doesn’t carry much weight.” Mr Kent says that, unusually for his clients, the Prince’s measurements have remained largely unchanged the past five decades. “He was a 31in waist when I first measured him, and he’s now only a 34. “That’s incredible. I’ve never had to let out any of his clothes,” he said. The Duke’s decision to give up smoking almost overnight in 1947, shortly before his marriage to the Queen, has no doubt contributed to his good health and long years. So much so,so that he was s able to tell experts at the Francis Crick Institute, in November last year, that he had not had flu for 40 years. He has also said that he hates consulting doctors because of their contradictory opinions. Inevitably, however, there have been low points when convalescence or even visits to hospital were required. Most recently both the Queen and the Duke fell ill with heavy colds before Christmas last year, forcing them to delay their trip to Sandringham by a day. Shortly before his 95th birthday in June 2016, Prince Philip pulled out of the Battle of Jutland anniversary events following medical advice regarding a “minor ailment”. But he was at the Queen’s side a few days later for her official birthday celebrations. In May 2014, the Duke had a “minor procedure” carried out on his right hand at Buckingham Palace and in June the previous year he spent two months convalescing after an exploratory operation on his abdomen. In December 2011 he was fitted with a heart stent and has twice been treated for bladder infections, including during the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee weekend in June 2012, when he fell ill after having to stand in the cold on a barge during the Thames pageant. On leaving hospital, the day before his 91st birthday, Prince Philip was asked if he was feeling better. He replied, in characteristic style: “Well, I wouldn’t be coming out if I wasn’t.”