Prince Philip to retire from royal duties

LONDON (AP) — Prince Philip, the consort known for his constant support of his wife Queen Elizabeth II as well as for his occasional gaffes, will retire from royal duties this fall, Buckingham Palace said Thursday.

Philip, 95, made the decision himself with the full support of the queen, the palace said in a statement. The royal, known as the Duke of Edinburgh, has suffered from heart disease and other ailments in recent years but has nonetheless maintained a vigorous public schedule.

He seemed to be in good health and a fine mood Wednesday during an appearance at a London cricket club. He joked about being the world’s most experienced person when it comes to unveiling plaques.

That may be true: Official figures indicate he has made more than 22,000 solo royal appearances and thousands more at the queen’s side.

Philip, a member of the Greek royal family in exile, has been at Elizabeth’s side in countless public appearance since their marriage in 1947. He gave up a successful naval career to support her when she became queen in 1952.

He became the longest-serving consort in British history in 2009 — much as Elizabeth has become the longest reigning monarch in British history.

Prime Minister Theresa May expressed gratitude “on behalf of the whole country” to Philip for his decades of service.

“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.

Officials said the queen, who turned 91 last month, will keep carrying out royal engagements with the support of the royal family. She has indicated that she does not plan to retire.

Elizabeth has, however, reduced her workload considerably in recent years as her children and grandchildren have moved to the fore. She has stopped making long-haul air flights to other Commonwealth countries.

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