Prince Philip set to retire from royal duties | News | DW | 04.05.2017
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Prince Philip set to retire from royal duties

Buckingham Palace says Prince Philip will permanently stand down from all royal engagements later this year. The announcement comes after a meeting of royal household staff was called overnight.

Britain's Prince Philip, the 95-year-old husband of Queen Elizabeth II, has decided to retire from royal duties "from the autumn of this year," Buckingham Palace announced in a statement issued Thursday.

The prince, also known as the Duke of Edinburgh, "has the full support of the queen," the statement went on. "Prince Philip will attend previously scheduled engagements between now and August, both individually and accompanying the queen."

Philip, who turns 96 in June, is the longest-serving consort in British history. He has been ever-present at his wife's side since she was crowned in 1953. Over the decades he has developed a reputation for his devotion to duty and blunt, forthright style, including a tendency to make inappropriate and often politically incorrect comments.

Despite suffering from heart disease and other ailments in recent years, he has maintained a vigorous public schedule. Last year he attended 219 royal engagements.

The palace said the Duke would continue heading numerous charitable organizations although he "will no longer play an active role by attending engagements." The statement added that the queen, 91, would keep up her "full programme of official engagements with the support of members of the Royal Family."

Both royals have gradually been cutting their workload in recent years, passing on many responsibilities to son and heir Prince Charles, and grandsons, Princes William and Harry.

British Prime Minister Theresa May thanked Philip for his contribution to Britain and his "steadfast support" of Queen Elizabeth. 

"On behalf of the whole country, I want to offer our deepest gratitude and good wishes to His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh," she said in a statement, adding that his commitment to hundreds of charities and good causes would "be of huge benefit to us all for years to come."

Opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn also paid tribute to Philip and praised the Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme he founded in the 1950's to reward youth achievement.

Earlier in the day, speculation about an imminent royal announcement spread on social media following reports that a meeting of senior household staff had been called in London overnight. Buckingham Palace sources later confirmed that staff had been summoned, but that there was "no cause for alarm" about the welfare of Elizabeth or Philip.

The two appeared to be in good health Wednesday. The Queen met with Prime Minister May to mark the dissolution of parliament ahead of the June general election. Philip opened a new stand at Lord's cricket ground.

nm/rt (AFP, Reuters, AP)

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