Prince Philip makes rare public engagement as he hands over role to Camilla

Rebecca Taylor
·Royal Correspondent
·4-min read

Prince Philip has made a rare public engagement at Windsor Castle as he handed over one of his remaining roles to his daughter-in-law, Camilla.

Philip, 99, handed over his position of colonel-in-chief of The Rifles on Wednesday, in a very socially distanced ceremony.

Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, was about 100 miles away at Highgrove House when she received the role.

His appearance came shortly before Buckingham Palace confirmed the Queen and Philip would be travelling to Scotland for their annual summer holiday by early August.

He waved and smiled as he arrived to the sound of four buglers, and was saluted by the Assistant Colonel Commandant, Major General Tom Copinger-Symes, for 67 years of service The Rifles, and their forming and antecedent Regiments.

WINDSOR, ENGLAND - JULY 22: Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh  during the transfer of the Colonel-in-Chief of The Rifles at Windsor Castle on July 22, 2020 in Windsor, England. The Duke of Edinburgh has been Colonel-in-Chief of The Rifles since its formation in 2007. HRH served as Colonel-in-Chief of successive Regiments which now make up The Rifles since 1953. The Duchess of Cornwall was appointed Royal Colonel of 4th Battalion The Rifles in 2007. (Photo by Samir Hussein-Pool/WireImage)
Philip waves as he arrives for the ceremony. (WireImage)
Britain's Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh waves as he takes part in the transfer of the Colonel-in-Chief of The Rifles at Windsor castle in Windsor on July 22, 2020. (Photo by Adrian DENNIS / POOL / AFP) (Photo by ADRIAN DENNIS/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Philip waves as he takes part in the ceremony, handing over one of his roles. (Getty Images)
WINDSOR, ENGLAND - JULY 22: Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh  during the transfer of the Colonel-in-Chief of The Rifles at Windsor Castle on July 22, 2020 in Windsor, England. The Duke of Edinburgh has been Colonel-in-Chief of The Rifles since its formation in 2007. HRH served as Colonel-in-Chief of successive Regiments which now make up The Rifles since 1953. The Duchess of Cornwall was appointed Royal Colonel of 4th Battalion The Rifles in 2007. (Photo by Samir Hussein-Pool/WireImage)
Prince Philip during the transfer of the Colonel-in-Chief of The Rifles. (WireImage)
Britain's Prince Philip (R), Duke of Edinburgh speaks to a bugler during the transfer of the Colonel-in-Chief of The Rifles at Windsor castle in Windsor on July 22, 2020. - Britain's Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh will step down from his role as Colonel-in-Chief for the Rifles after 67 years of service. (Photo by Adrian DENNIS / POOL / AFP) (Photo by ADRIAN DENNIS/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
The duke spoke to the buglers as he carried out the inspection. (Getty Images)

He stood ram-rod still as he was thanked for his association with the regiment.

The buglers played the No More Parades call, marking Philip’s final ceremony.

Then the ceremony passed over to Gloucestershire, where Camilla was welcomed by four buglers, and by The Rifles’ Colonel Commandant, General Sir Patrick Sanders.

Speaking before the ceremony, General Sanders said: “We feel it’s a bittersweet day because we’re enormously proud of our association with the Duke of Edinburgh who has been the most amazing Colonel-in-Chief and we’ve really flourished under his tenure.

“But it’s also really special to have the Duchess of Cornwall coming in because she has a long association with The Rifles.

“She has been absolutely inspiring and the support that she’s given and the way that she sustained that through some quite difficult and bloody tours.”

WINDSOR, ENGLAND - JULY 22: Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh  during the transfer of the Colonel-in-Chief of The Rifles at Windsor Castle on July 22, 2020 in Windsor, England. The Duke of Edinburgh has been Colonel-in-Chief of The Rifles since its formation in 2007. HRH served as Colonel-in-Chief of successive Regiments which now make up The Rifles since 1953. The Duchess of Cornwall was appointed Royal Colonel of 4th Battalion The Rifles in 2007. (Photo by Samir Hussein-Pool/WireImage)
Philip has been associated with the regiments which became The Rifles since 1953. (WireImage)
WINDSOR, ENGLAND - JULY 22: Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh  during the transfer of the Colonel-in-Chief of The Rifles at Windsor Castle on July 22, 2020 in Windsor, England. The Duke of Edinburgh has been Colonel-in-Chief of The Rifles since its formation in 2007. HRH served as Colonel-in-Chief of successive Regiments which now make up The Rifles since 1953. The Duchess of Cornwall was appointed Royal Colonel of 4th Battalion The Rifles in 2007. (Photo by Samir Hussein-Pool/WireImage)
The 99-year-old hasn't made many public engagements since he retired. (WireImage)
Britain's Prince Philip (C), Duke of Edinburgh flanked by Assistant Colonel Commandant, Major General Tom Copinger-Symeas (L) takes part in the transfer of the Colonel-in-Chief of The Rifles at Windsor castle in Windsor on July 22, 2020. - Britain's Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh will step down from his role as Colonel-in-Chief for the Rifles after 67 years of service. (Photo by Adrian DENNIS / POOL / AFP) (Photo by ADRIAN DENNIS/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
The duke of Edinburgh flanked by Assistant Colonel Commandant, Major General Tom Copinger-Symeas receives the salute at Windsor. (Getty Images)

Read more: Prince Philip to make public engagement as he hands over a key role

During the ceremony, Camilla wore a Rifles brooch and a bespoke bottle-green dress with black trim, modelled on the Rifles’ uniform.

The buttons of the dress have bugles on them and are the same buttons as worn on the soldiers’ tunics.

After the ceremony, she met the buglers and a small party from 4th Battalion The Rifles, before retiring for an audience with General Sir Patrick Sanders.

The Rifles has only existed in its current form since 2007, but Philip was Colonel-in-Chief of successive Regiments which now make up The Rifles, a role he took up in 1953.

The Duchess of Cornwall at Highgrove House, during a ceremony for the transfer of the Colonel-in-Chief of the Rifles to the Duchess from the Duke of Edinburgh, who will begin the ceremony at Windsor Castle.
The Duchess of Cornwall at Highgrove House as she arrived for the ceremony handing over Colonel-in-Chief. (PA Images)
The Duchess of Cornwall, alongside Colonel Commandant, General Sir Patrick Sanders (right), at Highgrove House, during a ceremony for the transfer of the Colonel-in-Chief of the Rifles to the Duchess from the Duke of Edinburgh, who will begin the ceremony at Windsor Castle.
Camilla spoke to the buglers and some of the battalion. (PA Images)
The Duchess of Cornwall at Highgrove House, during a ceremony for the transfer of the Colonel-in-Chief of the Rifles to the Duchess from the Duke of Edinburgh, who will begin the ceremony at Windsor Castle.
The duchess speaking to the buglers after becoming the Colonel-in-Chief. (PA Images)

The Duchess of Cornwall, 73, took on the role of Royal Colonel of The Rifles in 2007.

She will continue as Royal Colonel, a role which she has carried out by writing to next of kin, sending letters to the injured, and meeting families of the Battalion during the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts.

Camilla has also done the medal services.

She visited New Normandy Barracks in Aldershot in May last year to present service medals and meet members of the battalion and their families.

Philip has been isolating at Windsor Castle with the Queen since mid-March, when he was flown by helicopter from his usual retirement residence of Sandringham House.

Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh pictured 1/6/2020 in the quadrangle of Windsor Castle ahead of his 99th birthday on Wednesday. (Photo by Steve Parsons/PA Images via Getty Images)
Philip with the Queen in a photograph to mark his 99th birthday earlier this year. (PA Images)
Embargoed: Not for publication or onward transmission before 2200 BST Saturday July 18, 2020. NEWS EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NO COMMERCIAL USE. NO MERCHANDISING, ADVERTISING, SOUVENIRS, MEMORABILIA or COLOURABLY SIMILAR. NOT FOR USE AFTER 18th January 2021 WITHOUT PRIOR PERMISSION FROM BUCKINGHAM PALACE. NO CROPPING. Copyright in the photograph is vested in Princess Beatrice and Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi and Benjamin Wheeler. Publications are asked to credit the photograph to Benjamin Wheeler. No charge should be made for the supply, release or publication of the photograph. The photograph must not be digitally enhanced, manipulated or modified in any manner or form and must include all of the individuals in the photograph when published. This official wedding photograph released by the Royal Communications of Princess Beatrice and Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi shows them outside The Royal Chapel of All Saints at Royal Lodge, Windsor after their wedding with Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh. Issue date: Saturday July 18, 2020. See PA story ROYAL Beatrice. Photo credit should read: Benjamin Wheeler/PA Wire.
The Duke of Edinburgh was able to attend his granddaughter's wedding. (Benjamin Wheeler/PA Wire)

Read more: Prince Philip thanks scientists working on COVID-19 vaccine

He was seen in a new photo to mark his 99th birthday, and attended the wedding of his granddaughter Princess Beatrice.

But he rarely makes public appearances as he retired in 2017, so Wednesday’s ceremony is an unusual event.

On Wednesday, a palace spokesman said: “The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh plan to move to Balmoral Castle in early August to commence their annual summer stay.

“All arrangements will be in line with the relevant guidelines and advice.”