Fri | Oct 20, 2017

Prince Philip, 96, bids adieu with final solo official duty

Published:Thursday | August 3, 2017 | 12:00 AM
Britain's Prince Philip, in his role as Captain General of the Royal Marines, attends a Parade on the forecourt of Buckingham Palace, in central London, as it rains yesterday.
Britain's Prince Philip, in his role as Captain General of the Royal Marines.
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LONDON (AP):

For more than 65 years, he has been the unwavering presence alongside Britain's longest-serving monarch, the consummate consort and royal representative.

Yesterday, Prince Philip, 96, made his 22,219th and final solo public engagement, braving heavy rain to meet Royal Marines who have completed a 1,664-mile (2,678-kilometre) trek to raise money for charity.

Philip, known as the Duke of Edinburgh, will still appear at Queen Elizabeth II's side from time to time as the 91-year-old monarch soldiers on.

Philip announced he was stepping down from public duties in May. The royal, known for his quips and gaffes, recently joked about his big retirement day, telling celebrity chef Prue Leith: "I'm discovering what it's like to be on your last legs."

Philip is patron, president or a member of more than 780 organisations, with which he will continue to be associated but he won't play an active role by attending engagements. The queen supported the decision.

Yesterday's event outside Buckingham Palace marked a major landmark for the man born Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark in Corfu on June 10, 1921, to Princess Alice of Battenberg and Prince Andrew of Greece. Amid the upheaval of the military coup that overthrew his uncle, King Constantine, in 1922, the family fled.

King George V, the queen's grandfather, sent a Royal Navy cruiser to evacuate Philip's family and he was whisked to safety in a cot made from an orange box. Later, he rarely saw his parents and went to school in Germany and Britain.

Philip has had a long association with the military and had once had promising military career. He joined the Royal Navy as a cadet in 1939 and served during World War II, winning mention in dispatches for service aboard the battleship HMS Valiant at Cape Matapan, on Greece's Peloponnesian peninsula. He rose to the level of commander.

Two years after the war ended, Philip married the future queen at Westminster Abbey when she was 21 and he was 26. He renounced his Greek title and King George VI made him the Duke of Edinburgh. His career came to an abrupt end with George's death in 1952. At the queen's coronation in 1953, Philip swore to be his wife's "liegeman of life and limb". He settled into a life supporting Elizabeth in her role as queen and they had four children Charles, Anne, Andrew and Edward.

Prince Phillip has given 5,496 speeches, written 14 books and gone on 637 solo visits overseas.