Prince Philip prepares for final engagement


The Duke of Edinburgh will attend his final official engagement later, but the palace has hinted it won’t necessarily be the last time we see him on royal duty.

Prince Philip, who turned 96 in June, will attend a parade at Buckingham Palace to mark the finale of the Royal Marines 1664 Global Challenge.

Buckingham Palace announced in May that the Duke would not be taking on any more solo engagements from Autumn this year.

A palace spokeswoman said the parade would “bring His Royal Highness’s individual programme to a conclusion, although he may choose to attend certain events, alongside the Queen, from time-to-time”.

It was the Duke who decided now was the right time to step back from public life, and he does so with the “full support” of the Queen.

The palace has said it was not a decision made on the advice of doctors.

Since 1952, Prince Philip has carried out 22,219 solo public engagements, taken 637 solo overseas trips, made 5,493 speeches and authored 14 books.

He became the longest-serving consort in the British monarchy’s history in 2009 and is the oldest ever male member of the British Royal Family.

Phil Dampier, who has written several books about the Duke of Edinburgh, said it was the right decision for the Duke to wind down his duties.

He told Sky News: “At 96 I really do feel he deserves a rest.

“I don’t think he’s going to disappear completely, I’m sure he’ll turn up for various jobs with the Queen here and there but the nice thing is now he can pick and choose them, and relax when he wants to, and that’s good for the nation I think.”

Buckingham Palace has confirmed there are no plans for the Queen to reduce her official workload.

In a statement they said: “Her Majesty will continue to carry out a full programme of official engagements with the support of members of the Royal Family.”

Younger members of Team Windsor, as the family have been described, will be expected to increase their royal workload to support the Queen.

Last week Prince William gave up his job as an air ambulance pilot to become a full time royal.

Philip, however, may pop up at public events from time to time, such as Trooping the Colour in future years or even support the Queen during the proposed state visit for US president Donald Trump.

Martin Palmer, a close friend and adviser to the Duke, believes Prince Philip’s support for the Queen and his personal contribution to national life should not be underestimated, as behind the scenes he remained head of the family as his wife carried out the role of head of state.

Mr Palmer said: “I think his greatest achievement has been to support the Queen through probably one of the most tempestuous periods the monarchy has ever been through and, in a sense, to wear the trousers in the family, so the Queen could wear the crown.”

Later at Buckingham Palace Prince Philip will attend a parade to mark the end of the Royal Marines 1664 challenge.

He became Captain General of the Royal Marines in 1953, following the death of the Queen’s father George VI.

The 1664 challenge raises money for The Royal Marines Charity.

This year marines from around the country have run 16.64 miles each day for 100 days, totalling a distance of 1,664 miles, a symbolic number for the naval fighting force which traces its roots back to 1664.