UK's Prince Philip to retire from public engagements

Indo Asian News Service

London, May 4 (IANS) Prince Philip, 95-year-old husband of Britain's Queen Elizabeth II, will retire from his royal duties and stop carrying out public engagements later this year, Buckingham Palace announced on Thursday.

The Palace said in a statement that it was Prince Philip's decision taken with the support of the Queen.

"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," a statement said.

The Duke, who turns 96 next month, will attend previously scheduled engagements between now and August but will not accept new invitations, BBC reported.

The Queen "will continue to carry out a full programme of official engagements", the palace said.

The Duke is patron, President or a member of more than 780 organisations and will continue to be associated with them, but "will no longer play an active role by attending engagements", Buckingham Palace said.

In the statement, the palace spokesman said the Duke "may still choose to attend certain public events from time to time".

Prime Minister Theresa May said the whole country would want to offer the Duke "our deepest gratitude and good wishes".

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said his "clear sense of public duty" had inspired people for more than 60 years."

Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron 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..."

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

The announcement comes after royal staff from across the country were called to an emergency meeting in Buckingham Palace, the Guardian reported.

International speculation followed, including a story mistakenly published by The Sun falsely reporting Prince Philip's death.

Prince Philip has one of the busiest diaries of all the royals. In 2016, he carried out official meetings and visits on 110 days of the year, far more than younger members of his family.

On Thursday, Prince Philip and the Queen are due at a service for members of the Order of Merit at the Chapel Royal at St. James's Palace before hosting a lunch for those attending.

The Duke and the Queen celebrate their 70th wedding anniversary in November.