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Prince Philip, husband of UK's Queen Elizabeth II, to retire from public life

Posted at 2:32 AM, May 04, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-04 08:50:36-04

Prince Philip, the 95-year-old husband of British monarch Queen Elizabeth II, is stepping back from public life in the fall after decades by her side.

It is over five years since Buckingham Palace announced that the Duke of Edinburgh -- who married the then-Princess Elizabeth in 1947 -- would gradually "wind down" his workload, though he remained keen to perform many of his duties.

 

 

In 2016 alone, he attended 200 events as he continued to represent the royal family with his own distinctive style.

 

 

Just on Wednesday, he was photographed during an event at the Lord's cricket ground in London. But Buckingham Palace has now said his summer's previously scheduled public engagements will be his last, although he may still attend public events if he chooses.

Married to Queen Elizabeth II for 69 years, the Prince is known for his wit, humor and ability to speak his mind.

In April 2016 he caused amusement by taking the wheel to drive US President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama to lunch during their state visit to Britain. That came a month before he withdrew from attending commemorations of the Battle of Jutland in Orkney upon the advice of his doctor.

Health concerns

Philip's health has long been monitored not just by the palace but by the British media and public.

During an interview with the BBC on the occasion of his 90th birthday in 2011, Philip said it was time to take a step back from his responsibilities.

"I reckon I've done my bit, I want to enjoy myself now ... have less responsibility, less frantic rushing about, less preparation, less trying to think of something to say," he said.

However, Philip continued to appear by the Queen's side. In 2012, he was with Elizabeth as she undertook a busy schedule of public engagements across the UK to mark her 60 years on the throne.

'Constant strength and guide'

In a diamond jubilee address to parliament in March 2012, the Queen said the support of her own family had been "beyond measure" throughout her reign. And she paid special tribute to the contribution of her husband, who accompanied her on so many of her official visits.

"Prince Philip is, I believe, well-known for declining compliments of any kind. But throughout he has been a constant strength and guide," she said.

His youngest son, Edward, told a recent ITV documentary that his father never talks about himself and has a "brilliant mind."

"He is always amazingly innovative so people would come with ideas to suggest to him and he'd always turn them into 10 times better."

Phillip jokingly referred to himself as "the world's most experienced plaque unveiler" -- but as a child born into the turmoil of inter-war Europe, a naval officer decorated for heroism during World War I, the Duke of Edinburgh has been anything but.

Even now he will continue to be a patron or member of hundreds of charitable organizations. And he will remain the Queen's support and best companion in the private sphere.