THE Duke of Edinburgh has been praised for his “dutiful service” and “steadfast support” for the Queen, after it was announced on Thursday that he is to retire in the autumn from carrying out public engagements.
The decision had been made by Prince Philip, soon to be 96, with the support of the Queen, a statement issued by Buckingham Palace said. “Prince Philip will attend previously scheduled engagements between now and August, both individually and accompanying The Queen. Thereafter, The Duke will not be accepting new invitations for visits and engagements, although he may still choose to attend certain public events from time to time.”
The Duke will also continue to be associated with the more than 780 organisations of which he is a patron, president, or a member, it says, but will no longer play an “active role” by attending public engagements. “Her Majesty will continue to carry out a full programme of official engagements with the support of members of the Royal Family.”
In an ad clerum on the General Election, issued on Thursday in advance of a pastoral letter from the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, the Acting Bishop of London, the Bishop of Willesden, the Rt Revd Pete Broadbent, wrote of the Duke: “A lifetime of exposure and a dutiful service to all — mostly alongside the Queen, and not necessarily in the limelight — is something to be celebrated.”
Bishop Broadbent, who was reprimanded by the former Bishop of London, the Rt Revd Richard Chartres, and temporarily withdrawn from public ministry in 2010 after making derogatory anti-royalist remarks on social media, picked out the Duke of Edinburgh Awards scheme for praise. It “has captured the imagination and inspired and equipped young people over many generations since 1956. We give thanks for him.”
Prince Philip saw active service in the navy during the Second World War, before leaving the service to support the Queen after her accession in 1952. He became the longest-serving British consort in 2009, and the fifth busiest member of the royal family, according to court listings, after carrying out 110 days of engagements last year. His many interests include conservation, engineering, and his award scheme, which he founded in 1956.
A statement from the scheme read: “HRH has been actively involved with the charity for the last 61 years as its patron, and has attended over 500 gold-award presentations. We respect HRH’s decision no longer to carry out public engagements from autumn this year and are grateful for his continued patronage.”
Among his other activities, since the 1980s Prince Philip has presented the annual Templeton Prize for the advancement of religion. His “farewell tour” will include a dinner and reception for Duke of Edinburgh gold-award winners at Buckingham Palace, the annual garden parties, the Chelsea Flower Show, the Trooping the Colour, and Royal Ascot.
The Prime Minister has offer her “deepest gratitude and good wishes” to the Prince on behalf of the nation: “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.”
The Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, wished the Duke “all the best” in his retirement. “He has dedicated his life to supporting the Queen and our country with a clear sense of public duty.”