Buckingham Palace finally revealed why it summoned all its senior staff countrywide for a meeting. It was all about Prince Philip, the 95-year-old husband of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth.
The Palace said he would no longer be able to “stand up much” and thus announced he would retire at the end of August from active public life. Philip, who is also known as the Duke of Edinburgh and has sometimes drawn attention with headline-grabbing gaffes, has been by the queen’s side throughout her 65 years on the throne and she has described him as “my strength and stay”.
“Prince Philip will attend previously scheduled engagements between now and August, both individually and accompanying The Queen,” the palace said in a statement. “Thereafter, The Duke will not be accepting new invitations for visits and engagements, although he may still choose to attend certain public events from time to time.”
The queen, the world’s longest-reigning living monarch who celebrated her 91st birthday in April, will continue to carry out a full program of official engagements, the statement added. Polls show Elizabeth, who ascended to the throne in 1952, remains hugely popular among Britons.
At an engagement at St James’s Palace in central London with his wife on Thursday, a guest told Philip he was sorry to hear he was standing down. “I can’t stand up much,” quipped the prince, whose off-the-cuff remarks have sometimes landed him in hot water. The announcement of Philip’s retirement was made following a meeting of all senior royal staff at Buckingham Palace, news of which prompted media speculation about the health of the royals.
However a well-placed source said there was no cause for concern about the health of the queen or Philip, who turns 96 next month. The couple, who married at Westminster Abbey in 1947, are due to celebrate their platinum, or 70th, wedding anniversary in November.
They have both been cutting their workload in recent years, passing on many responsibilities to son and heir Prince Charles, and grandsons, Princes William and Harry. Philip conducted 184 official appearances in the year to March 2016 and has racked up a total 22,191 solo engagements since 1952, official figures show.
Prime Minister Theresa May offered the country’s “deepest gratitude and good wishes” to Philip on his retirement.