London: Buckingham Palace has announced the final public engagement to be carried out by Britain’s 96- year-old Prince Philip this week, marking the start of his retirement. The Duke of Edinburgh, Queen Elizabeth II’s husband, will attend a Royal Marines’ charity parade outside Buckingham Palace on Wednesday before he steps back from his official duties.
It had been announced earlier this year that he would retire by August. “The parade would bring His Royal Highness’ individual programme to a conclusion, although he may choose to attend certain events, alongside the Queen, from time to time,” a Buckingham Palace spokesperson said.
Prince Philip is the Royal Marines’ Captain General, a title given to him in 1953 after King George VI’s death. His final appearance at the parade this week would bring the total number of engagements carried out by the monarch’s consort in 2017 to 52.
His many appearances this year include feeding an elephant at the Whipsnade Zoo in the east of England, attending the official opening of the Metropolitan Police headquarters at New Scotland Yard in London, opening the new Warner Stand at Lord’s Cricket Ground and meeting Hollywood star Tom Cruise at a Buckingham Palace for the 75th anniversary of the Outward Bound Trust.
Prince Philip, who has long been considered among the most active royals in the UK, has been married to Queen Elizabeth II since 1947. The couple are set to mark their 70th or platinum wedding anniversary in November this year.
Their son and heir, Prince Charles, and grandsons Princes William and Harry are likely to take on additional royal duties to step in for Prince Philip at public engagements from this year.
The Queen and Prince Philip had already cut down on long-haul travel for some years now, with younger royals taking on those duties.
Close confidants of the royal family said the decision to retire was a personal one taken by Prince Philip himself, who may now devote his time to writing his memoirs.