LONDON • Britain's Prince Philip, the 95-year-old husband of Queen Elizabeth II, will retire from public engagements later this year, Buckingham Palace said yesterday.
The Duke of Edinburgh, who turns 96 on June 10, is the longest- serving consort in British history, and is still in good health. But he has been reducing his workload in recent years, and said in 2011 that "I reckon I've done my bit, so I want to enjoy myself a bit now".
Prince Philip conducted 219 royal engagements last year, and was in good form when he opened a new stand at Lord's Cricket Ground in London on Wednesday.
"You're about to see the world's most experienced plaque-unveiler," he quipped just before pulling the cord to part a small curtain.
The former naval officer's devotion to duty and the Queen has endeared him to the nation, though some of his politically incorrect remarks have ruffled feathers.
Prime Minister Theresa May offered him the whole country's "deepest gratitude and good wishes". "From his steadfast support for Her Majesty the Queen to his inspirational Duke of Edinburgh Awards and his patronage of hundreds of charities and good causes, his contribution to our United Kingdom, the Commonwealth and the wider world will be of huge benefit to us all for years to come," she said.
Prince Philip has been ever present at his wife's side since she took the throne in 1952. They married in 1947 and will celebrate their 70th wedding anniversary on Nov 20. She has described him as "my strength and stay".
At an engagement at St James's Palace in central London with his wife yesterday, a guest told Prince Philip he was sorry to hear he was standing down. "I can't stand up much," quipped the Prince.
The announcement followed a meeting of royal staff from around Britain, which prompted speculation about the health of the Queen and her husband. "Her Majesty will continue to carry out a full programme of official engagements with the support of members of the royal family," the palace stressed.
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS