Prince Philip retires: Queen's husband to step down from public life in autumn, Buckingham Palace announces

Hannah Furness
- 2017 Getty Images

Prince Philip, who is 95, will no longer carry out public engagements from the autumn of this year, Buckingham Palace has announced.

The Palace said in a statement it was the The Duke of Edinburgh's decision taken with the support of the Queen. 

The Duke of Edinburgh retires: A life of public service in pictures

It said: "His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh has decided that he will no longer carry out public engagements from the autumn of this year. In taking this decision, The Duke has the full support of The Queen.

Prince Philip's funniest moments and greatest gaffes

"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.

Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, smiles during his visit to Lord's Cricket Ground  on Wednesday Credit: AFP

"The Duke of Edinburgh is Patron, President or a member of over 780 organisations, with which he will continue to be associated, although he will no longer play an active role by attending engagements.

"Her Majesty will continue to carry out a full programme of official engagements with the support of members of the Royal Family."

The Duke of Edinburgh (second left) is shown a number of bats by Dr Chinmay Gupte (second right) and John Stephenson (right), during a visit to Lord's cricket ground Credit: Arthur Edwards/PA Wire

Philip has generally been in good health in recent years and on Wednesday when he opened a new stand at Lord's cricket ground in central London looked relaxed, lively and walked confidently down a flight of uneven steps when he strode onto the outfield.

But it appears the Duke has decided that, now in his advanced years, the time has come to step back from royal duties that can involve extensive travel.

The Queen and Prince Philip through the ages

 

2:37PM

What's coming up for the prince

Here's a calendar of Prince Philip's upcoming schedule until the end of July:

The Duke of Edinburgh’s schedule

 

2:29PM

Prince Philip makes a trademark quip

He may be about to retire, but the old wit isn't going anywhere.

At today's Order of Merit service at the Chapel Royal in St James's Palace one of the guests was filmed saying to Prince Philip: “I’m sorry to hear you’re standing down.”

He shot back: "Well I can’t stand up much longer."

 

2:04PM

Prince Philip's busy schedule

The Duke of Edinburgh has spent 25 days so far this year carrying out public engagements - more than the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and the Queen.

Philip's appearances out and about with the monarch in the public eye since the start of 2017 have ranged from feeding an elephant at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo to attending the unveiling of a national memorial on Horse Guards Parade.

The Duke of Edinburgh speaks to guests after attending the Order of Merit service Credit: John Stillwell/Pool Photo via AP

Solo engagements by the 95-year-old also included opening the new Warner Stand at Lord's Cricket Ground in London on Wednesday and meeting actor Tom Cruise at a Buckingham Palace dinner to mark the 75th anniversary of the Outward Bound Trust in March.

The Queen has spent 22 days carrying out public engagements since January 1, up to and including May 3. Likewise, Kate has spent 22 days on public events while William totalled 23 days.

Prince Philip was at Chapel Royal in St James's Palace Credit: John Stillwell/Pool Photo via AP

The figures, compiled by the Press Association, do not include audiences and behind-the-scenes meetings, but purely events held in public or where the royals have met invited members of the public.

Philip's daughter the Princess Royal has been the busiest royal for public engagements so far - with 63 days - while future king the Prince of Wales is next with 48.

The Duke of York has notched up 32 days, the Duchess of Cornwall 30, Prince Harry 28 and the Earl of Wessex 27.

12:55PM

Retiring? Not quite yet

It was business as usual for Prince Philip following this morning's meeting and the announcement of his impending retirement.

The prince was straight out for another engagement accompanying the Queen on a short drive from Buckingham Palace to the Chapel Royal in St James's Palace, London, for an Order of Merit service.

Queen Elizabeth, right, and Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh arrive at Chapel Royal in St James's Palace, Credit: John Stillwell/Pool Photo via AP

The pair appeared to be in good spirits as they joined guests including playwright Tom Stoppard for the service just after 11.30am, followed by a lunch.

Today's Order of Merit service - held every two years - honours individuals of great achievement in the fields of the arts, learning, literature and science.

Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh Credit: John Stillwell/Pool Photo via AP

The Order was founded by Edward VII in 1902 and members are chosen by the monarch herself. 

Past members have included Florence Nightingale (the first female member), composers Edward Elgar, Ralph Vaughan Williams and Benjamin Britten, writers Thomas Hardy and T. S. Eliot, Winston Churchill, Margaret Thatcher, Mother Teresa and Nelson Mandela.

 

12:42PM

'He's earned it!': how social media reacted

The Telegraph's trending news expert Helen Horton looks at how Twitter reacted to the announcement that Prince Philip is to retire.

12:31PM

Queen and Prince Philip leave Buckingham Palace

The first images of the Queen and Prince Philip leaving Buckingham Palace following this morning's meeting and the announcement of the Prince's upcoming retirement have dropped:

Prince Philip leaves Buckingham Palace Credit: REUTERS/Neil Hall
Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, depart in their car Credit: Leon Neal/Getty Images

 

12:23PM

Prince Philip's farewell tour

Before he steps down in August at the age of  96, Prince Philip still has a number of dates in his diary.

The Duke of Edinburgh riding in Windsor Great Park, the day before the Queen's birthday Credit: Heathcliff O'Malley

Among the upcoming engagements he will host a dinner for The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award in a fortnight’s time and follow that with a Buckingham Palace reception for youngsters who have achieved its gold standard.

Chief reporter Robert Mendick looks what the Duke of Edinburgh's final public appearances will be.

12:14PM

No question of retirement for the Queen

While the Duke of Edinburgh is retiring at the grand old age of 95, the Queen is in her job for life.

The monarch's public duties and behind-the-scenes work as head of state continue despite the Queen being 91.

On the throne for more than 65 years, Elizabeth II has always made clear it that abdication is not an option.

Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip wave from the balcony of Buckingham Palace Credit: AP Photo/Sang Tan

On her 21st birthday, she made her now famous radio broadcast from Cape Town in South Africa in 1947 on her first official overseas visit, declaring: "My whole life, whether it be long or short, shall be devoted to your service and the service of our great imperial family to which we all belong."

With Philip stepping down from public duties, the Queen will increasingly turn to younger members of Team Windsor - namely the Prince of Wales and the Duke of Cambridge - to support her in her role.

William's job as an air ambulance pilot ends in the summer - neatly timed for him to become a full-time royal just before his grandfather retires.

The Queen no longer carries out overseas duties and, although she still holds investitures, a number are also carried out by Charles, William and the Princess Royal.

Buckingham Palace confirmed: "Her Majesty will continue to carry out a full programme of official engagements with the support of members of the Royal Family."

Philip, however, may pop up at public events from time to time.

He could choose to make appearances on the Palace balcony for Trooping the Colour in future years or even turn up to greet US President Donald Trump during his proposed State Visit.

In 1992, the Queen dismissed any speculation that she would step down, insisting frankly: "It is a job for life."

She was speaking about the death of her father, King George VI, for a BBC TV documentary, Elizabeth R, marking the 40th anniversary of her accession.

"In a way I didn't have an apprenticeship. My father died much too young and so it was all very sudden ... taking on and making the best job you can," the Queen said.

"It's a question of maturing into something that one's got used to doing, and accepting the fact that it's your fate, because I think continuity is very important. It is a job for life."

12:00PM

The Prince in numbers

Here are some facts about Prince Philip:

  1. Total number of solo engagements - 22,191
  2. Total number of solo overseas visits - 637 (Commonwealth countries - 229 visits to 67 countries / other countries 408 visits to 76 countries)
  3. Total number of speeches given – 5,493
  4. Total number of patronages – 785 organisations
  5. Presentation of colours – 54
  6. Number of service appointments – 32
  7. Number of books authored – 14

11:47AM

Prince Philip's turblent early life

As the longest-serving royal consort in British history approached his 90th birthday in 2011, the Telegraph published three exclusive extracts from Philip Eade’s book, Young Prince Philip: His Turbulent Early Life, which showed how his traumatic childhood shaped him and details the strength of character he showed in the face of such tragedy and turbulence.

Here are the extracts once more as the Prince, now 95, prepares to retire from public life:

  1. The romances of young Prince Philip 
  2. How Prince Philip's unorthodox upbringing and traumatic childhood shaped him
  3. How Prince Philip wooed Elizabeth - and a nation

11:35AM

Philip in his own words

Prince Philip may be one of the most controversial royals, but he’s also by far the funniest.

In 2015 a book of stories about the Duke of Edinburgh by Nigel Cawthorne, 'I know I am rude, but it’s Fun: The Royal Family and the World at Large - as Seen by Prince Philip' – was published.

The Duke of Edinburgh leaves the Jubilee Service at St Paul's Cathedral wearing naval uniform in June, 2002  Credit: Anwar Hussein/Getty Images

The book gives context to some of Prince Philip’s best known gaffes, but also reveals some lesser-known anecdotes.

Here are some of the Duke's greatest moments compiled in Cawthorne’s book.

11:14AM

The Queen's rock

More reaction from Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron.

He said:

Well, perhaps 30 years later than most people retire, the Duke of Edinburgh is announcing that that is what he is intending to do, and I think it is a moment to celebrate and take stock of the enormous achievements that he has made in his life so far, the enormous service he has given to his country, the service to countless charities he has supported, plus while being such a rock for Her Majesty the Queen.

I think it is a moment for us to be genuinely reflective of a great life well-lived and great achievements.

Ukip leader Paul Nuttall said: "Today we should honour the life of service to our Queen and nation by Prince Philip.

"For over 60 years he has been a dedicated public servant, and deserves our great thanks. Happy retirement, Sir."

Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said:

HRH the Duke of Edinburgh has dedicated his life to public service and the steadfast support he has given to the Queen throughout her reign is hugely admirable.

His charity work, in particular his role as chairman of the Duke of Edinburgh Awards, has benefited millions of young people across Scotland. He also gave over 50 years of service to Edinburgh University during his time as Chancellor there.

He has always served with enthusiasm and a healthy sense of humour. I have always thoroughly enjoyed any time that I have spent in his company.

I know that, even as he steps back from public life, the Duke will continue to be a huge support to the Queen. I wish him all the very best for a happy and peaceful retirement.

 

10:49AM

Theresa May offers 'our deepest gratitude'

Prime Minister Theresa May has led tributes to the Duke of Edinburgh following the announcement that he is standing aside from royal duties, saying the whole country would want to offer him "our deepest gratitude and good wishes".

Mrs May said Prince Philip had given "steadfast support" to the Queen and served the country in a way which would be "of huge benefit to us all for years to come".

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn also had words of praise for the Duke, saying his "clear sense of public duty" had inspired people for more than 60 years.

In a statement issued by Downing Street, Mrs May said:

On behalf of the whole country, I want to offer our deepest gratitude and good wishes to His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh following today's announcement that he will stand down from public duties in the autumn.

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.

Mr Corbyn said:

I would like to pay tribute to Prince Philip following his decision to retire from public service.

He has dedicated his life to supporting the Queen and our country with a clear sense of public duty.

His Duke of Edinburgh's Award scheme has inspired young people for more than 60 years in over 140 nations.

We thank Prince Philip for his service to the country and wish him all the best in his well-earned retirement.

Meanwhile, Nigel Farage has also paid tribute to the "great man":

 

10:47AM

The Duke of Edinburgh's most notable gaffes

The Duke of Edinburgh has perhaps been best known for his legendary gaffes.

He has shocked and sometimes delighted the public with his outspoken comments and clangers.

His reputation for plain speaking has often led to controversy, but he was once branded a "national treasure" by the press for his inability to curb his off-the-cuff remarks.

The Duke of Edinburgh speaks to sniper team members of 3rd Battalion of The Royal Canadian Regiment at Queen's Park in Toronto Credit: REUTERS/Fred Thornhill 

He claimed he was misunderstood. In fact, the Duke has been "misunderstood" almost everywhere he went.

Here are some of Philip's famous phrases:

  • "British women can't cook" (in Britain in 1966).
  • "What do you gargle with, pebbles?" (speaking to singer Tom Jones after the 1969 Royal Variety Performance).
  • "I declare this thing open, whatever it is." (on a visit to Canada in 1969).
  • "Everybody was saying we must have more leisure. Now they are complaining they are unemployed" (during the 1981 recession).
  • "If it has got four legs and it is not a chair, if it has got two wings and it flies but is not an aeroplane, and if it swims and it is not a submarine, the Cantonese will eat it." (at a 1986 World Wildlife Fund meeting).
  • "It looks like a tart's bedroom." (on seeing plans for the Duke and Duchess of York's house at Sunninghill Park in 1988)

And if you want to see more, here's our full list.

10:27AM

Milestone year for Queen and Prince Philip

The Duke of Edinburgh's retirement from public engagements comes as the Queen and Philip prepare to mark a poignant personal milestone this year.

In November, the royal couple are due to reach their platinum wedding anniversary - 70 years since they wed.

The monarch, now 91, and Philip had a busy 2016 - with the Queen celebrating her high- profile 90th birthday with a public walkabout and a private black tie banquet for friends and loved ones in Windsor Castle.

Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh opens the new Warner Stand at Lord's Cricket Ground on May 3 Credit: Arthur Edwards - WPA Pool /Getty Images

Official commemorations of the Queen's milestone anniversary were held in June 2016 - when Philip also reached his 95th birthday - and the Royal Family were out in force for a service of thanksgiving at Westminster Abbey.

The weekend of festivities included the traditional Trooping the Colour parade, and a street party in The Mall, during which the Queen and Philip rode down the famous thoroughfare, standing in an open-top "Queen-mobile", waving at the picnickers.

In 2015, the Queen became the nation's longest reigning monarch - and this year reached her Sapphire Jubilee - having now been on the throne for more than 65 years - with Philip at her side.

Duke of Edinburgh surprise visit to see troops in Basra in 2006 Credit: MoD/PA

In just a few weeks' time, on June 10, Philip will be 96.

When the Duke turned 90, he stepped down as president or patron of more than a dozen organisations - but has still been involved with more than 800 charities or bodies.

The Queen and Philip called a halt to long-haul travel in recent years, handing this responsibility over to the younger members of their family.

Profile | Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh

There has been renewed interest in the Windsors in recent years, particularly since Prince William's engagement to Kate Middleton in 2010.

Millions tuned in to watch the royal wedding in April 2011 and, a year later in June 2012, well-wishers were out in force for the Queen's Diamond Jubilee.

The Queen and Philip have welcomed numerous great-grandchildren into The Firm.

They became great-grandparents for the first time when Peter and Autumn Phillips had a daughter, Savannah, in 2010, followed by her sister, Isla, in 2012.

In 2013, the Royal Family celebrated the birth of a future King - the Queen and Philip's third great-grandchild and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge's first-born son, Prince George of Cambridge, with the Queen telling guests at a reception that she was "thrilled" at the arrival of her first great-grandson.

Another great-granddaughter - Mia Tindall - the first child of Zara Phillips and rugby player Mike Tindall was born in 2014 and then, in May 2015, William and Kate had their daughter, Princess Charlotte - the same year the Queen became the longest reigning British monarch in history.

 

10:18AM

Prince Philip's life in the limelight

Here are some moments in history from The Telegraph archive: 

The Queen and Prince Philip through the ages

Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh leaving St Paul's Cathedral in 1968 Credit: PA
Princess Elizabeth and Philip Mountbatten, Duke of Edinburgh, on the occasion of their engagement  in 1947 at Buckingham Palace Credit: Fox Photos/Getty Images
The Duke of Edinburgh inspects the Guard of Honour of South Wales Borderers in front of the Residence of General Sir Richard Gale in Costedt, Germany Credit:  AP
The Duke of Edinburgh at the White City watching a relay race. With him is Lord Burghley Credit:  AP

 

10:10AM

Buckingham Palace statement

Here is the full Buckingham Palace statement:

His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh has decided that he will no longer carry out public engagements from the autumn of this year. In taking this decision, The Duke has the full support of The Queen.

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 of Edinburgh is Patron, President or a member of over 780 organisations, with which he will continue to be associated, although he will no longer play an active role by attending engagements.

Her Majesty will continue to carry out a full programme of official engagements with the support of members of the Royal Family.

 

10:05AM

BREAKING NEWS: Prince Philip to step down from public life

The Duke of Edinburgh, who is 95, will no longer carry out public engagements  from the autumn of this year, Buckingham Palace has announced.

Buckingham Palace said in a statement it was the Duke's decision taken with the  support of the Queen. 

 

10:00AM

'Could well be about the refurbishment'

The Queen's loyal former press secretary Dickie Arbiter, who acted for Her Majesty until 2000, said it was unlikely to do with the royal couple's health.

He tweeted:

HuffPost's Paul Waugh is also playing down the announcement:

 

9:50AM

Keep calm and carry on

Speculation has gone into overdrive on social media this morning as to the nature of the announcement.

Here is what The Telegraph's royal correspondent Hannah Furness thinks:

Meanwhile, here is the scene outside Buckingham Palace:

Vehicles and a horse and carriage drive past Buckingham Palace Credit: AP Photo/Alastair Grant

 The Royal flag is flying at full mast on Buckingham Palace, suggesting all is well.

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