Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip. (Wikimedia Commons)

Britain’s Prince Philip, 95, to retire from royal duties

The palace said Philip will continue his role with more than 780 charitable organizations

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.

Attention has been increasingly focused on her son Prince Charles, the heir to the throne, and on her grandson Prince William and his wife Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge.

The palace said Philip will continue his role with more than 780 charitable organizations but will not attend engagements.

He is not expected to disappear completely from the public stage – the palace said he may still choose to attend some events from time to time.

The palace did not offer any new details about his health and there were no indications of any new problems. The statement indicated Philip will carry out previously scheduled engagements between now and August.

Philip said when he turned 90 in 2011 that he was “winding down” his official duties, adding that he felt he had “done my bit.” He was treated later that year for a blocked heart artery but seemed to recover well.

He has been hospitalized several times since then with other ailments.

The queen is normally quite reserved about her private life but she has described her husband as “my strength and stay all these years.”

She met with May at the palace Wednesday and has made several public appearances recently. The queen and Philip were both ill with the flu over the Christmas holidays but seem to have recovered well.

Earlier in the day, a report by Britain’s Daily Mail of an unusual meeting of royal household staff sparked a worldwide wave of speculation about the health of the queen and Philip, including incorrect reports that the flag atop Buckingham Palace had been lowered to half-staff.

The Sun tabloid briefly reported on its website that Philip had died. The incorrect report was quickly dropped.

In Australia, where the queen is recognized as head of state, officials praised Philip’s perseverance.

“It says something about an individual that they get to the age of 95 before they decide to officially retire,” Australian Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce told reporters. “It’s something to aim for.”

Tourists outside Buckingham Palace also had kind words for Philip as he nears the end of his public life.

“He’s been an icon for so long, and I’ve really admired him and it saddens me in a way,” said Grace Marie, who said she understood his decision.

___

Danica Kirka and Kevin Scott in London and Kristen Gelineau in Sydney contributed.

Gregory Katz, The Associated Press

Just Posted

Trail police release image of liquor store robber

The video surveillance image shows the robber aiming a black gun at the store’s clerk

More snow called for the Kootenays

Environment Canada issued the bulletin Tuesday under its “BC Traveller’s Routes forecast”

Castlegar daycare selected for univeral child care pilot program

MLA Katrine Conroy presents letter of acceptance to the program to the Children’s Centre at Selkirk College

Kootenay employers ready to meet job seekers at Black Press career fair

Dozens of companies will attend the event on Nov. 15 at the Ktunaxa Nation Building in Cranbrook

Sandblasting Silver City skate sign

The Trail Sk8 Park was closed on Thursday so workers could ready a sign for painting

VIDEO: Amazon to split second HQ between New York, Virginia

Official decision expected later Tuesday to end competition between North American cities to win bid and its promise of 50,000 jobs

Stink at B.C. school prompts complaints of headaches, nausea

Smell at Abbotsford school comes from unauthorized composting operation

Fear of constitutional crisis escalates in U.S.; Canadians can relate

Some say President Donald Trump is leading the U.S. towards a crisis

B.C.-based pot producer Tilray reports revenue surge, net loss

Company remains excited about ‘robust’ cannabis industry

Canada stands pat on Saudi arms sales, even after hearing Khashoggi tape

Khashoggi’s death at Saudi Arabia’s consulate in Istanbul further strained Riyadh’s already difficult relationship with Ottawa

Feds pledge money for young scientists, but funding for in-house research slips

Canada’s spending on science is up almost 10 per cent since the Liberals took office, but spending on in-house research is actually down

Disabled boy has ‘forgiven’ bullies who walked on him in stream, mom says

A Cape Breton teen who has cerebral palsy was told to lie in a stream as other kids walked over him

Letters shed light on state of mind of B.C. mom accused of daughter’s murder

Trial of South Surrey mother Lisa Batstone begins in BC Supreme Court

Vancouver man must pay $22,000 after breaking strata rules

Peter Gordon took his fight over his rented condo to the civil resolution tribunal, but lost

Most Read