UK’s Prince Philip to step down from royal duties

Prince Phillip and Queen Elizabeth

Prince Philip, the 95-year-old husband of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth, will retire from carrying out royal engagements later this year, Buckingham Palace announced on Thursday.

The prince, also known as the Duke of Edinburgh, who has been by his wife’s side throughout her 65 years on the throne, had decided he would cease public duties from autumn, the palace said in a statement.

“Prince Philip will attend previously scheduled engagements between now and August, both individually and accompanying The Queen,” the statement said.

“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 queen, the world’s longest-reigning living monarch who celebrated her 91st birthday in April, will continue to carry out a full program of official engagements, it added.

The announcement was made following a meeting of senior royal staff at Buckingham Palace, news of which prompted speculation about the health of the royals.

However, a well-placed source said there was no cause for concern about the welfare of the queen or Mr. Philip, who turns 96 in June.

The couple, who are due to celebrate their platinum, or 70th, wedding anniversary in November have been cutting their workload in recent years, passing on many responsibilities to son and heir Prince Charles, and grandsons, Princes William and Harry.

Both carried out official duties on Wednesday, with Elizabeth meeting Prime Minister Theresa May to formally agree to the dissolution of parliament ahead of June’s election while Philip opened a new stand at Lord’s Cricket Ground in central London.

The Daily Mail newspaper had reported that senior aides from across the country had been called to the palace for an emergency meeting, leading to wide speculation on social media about the health of the royals.

“There’s no cause for alarm,” the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told Reuters.

The queen, the world’s longest-reigning living monarch celebrated her 91st birthday in April.

Elizabeth met Prime Minister Theresa May on Wednesday to formally agree to the dissolution of parliament ahead of June’s election while Philip opened a new stand at Lord’s Cricket Ground in central London.

The Mail reported that the royal staff would be addressed by the Lord Chamberlain, the most senior officer of the Royal Household, and the queen’s private secretary Sir Christopher Geidt.

The BBC said the meeting would take place at 10 a.m. (5.00 a.m. ET).

Buckingham Palace had no comment on the Mail report but the source said such all-staff meetings did occur occasionally.

There was no detail about what the meeting would address.

Elizabeth ascended to the throne in 1952 and polls show she remains hugely popular among Britons.

She and Philip are due to celebrate their platinum, or 70th, wedding anniversary in November.

Inspite of their age, the couple continue to carry out hundreds of official duties although they have cut back on their workload in recent years, passing on many responsibilities to son and heir Prince Charles, and grandsons, Princes William and Harry.

The queen missed a traditional Christmas church service in 2016 for the first time in decades due to a heavy cold and was hospitalised in March 2013 with symptoms of gastroenteritis, the first time she had needed hospital treatment in a decade.

While her father, George VI, died at 56, her mother lived until 101 and was still appearing in public almost up until her death in 2002.

Philip underwent “an exploratory operation following abdominal investigations” in 2013.

He was also hospitalised for a bladder infection during the queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations the year before, and spent Christmas 2011 in hospital where he underwent an operation to clear a blocked heart artery after suffering chest pains.

(Reuters/NAN)


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