Prince Philip: the world’s most experienced plaque unveiler

Prince Philip on board the Portsmouth-based Type 42 destroyer HMS Sheffield, sunk during the Falklands war in 1982.
Prince Philip on board the Portsmouth-based Type 42 destroyer HMS Sheffield, sunk during the Falklands war in 1982.
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At the age of 95 he has continued working 30 years beyond the retirement age, but finally the Duke of Edinburgh has decided to go ‘on the beach’.*

Shortly after the news was announced yesterday, Prince Philip was on duty, and on customary form, joining the Queen at St James’s Palace for a service and lunch for the Order of Merit.

The Duke of Edinburgh toured the Royal Marines School of Music in Portsmouth today (October 28) to mark the 20th anniversary of the move to its current home.  Prince Philip, Captain General of the Royal Marines, spoke to some of the trainee musicians and instructors and viewed the Royal Marines Band Service Memorial Room.

The Duke of Edinburgh toured the Royal Marines School of Music in Portsmouth today (October 28) to mark the 20th anniversary of the move to its current home. Prince Philip, Captain General of the Royal Marines, spoke to some of the trainee musicians and instructors and viewed the Royal Marines Band Service Memorial Room.

When the mathematician Sir Michael Atiyah told him: ‘I’m sorry to hear you’re standing down,’ Philip shot back: ‘Well I can’t stand up much longer.’

His famed quick-wittedness was honed in the Royal Navy and it was his links to the Senior Service which brought him back to the Portsmouth area time and again as the longest-serving royal consort in British history.

Philip, who famously describes himself as ‘the world’s most experienced plaque unveiler’ has undertaken 22,191 solo engagements and given 5,493 speeches in almost seven decades as the Queen’s ‘strength and stay’.

*On the beach: naval slang expression normally, and originally, meaning retired from the service, but of recent years sometimes used to describe an appointment to a shore establishment.

Archie Weston, of the Royal Naval Volunteer Band of HMS Collingwood, Fareham, shares a joke with the duke during a visit in February 1994 .

Archie Weston, of the Royal Naval Volunteer Band of HMS Collingwood, Fareham, shares a joke with the duke during a visit in February 1994 .

The Queen, Duke of Edinburgh and Princess Anne welcome home Prince Andrew in HMS Invincible when she returned to Portsmouth in September 1982 after the Falklands war.

The Queen, Duke of Edinburgh and Princess Anne welcome home Prince Andrew in HMS Invincible when she returned to Portsmouth in September 1982 after the Falklands war.

The Queen and Prince Philip being greeted at Portsmouth Harbour station by station manager Keith Ricketts during a visit in the Queens Silver Jubilee year, 1977.

The Queen and Prince Philip being greeted at Portsmouth Harbour station by station manager Keith Ricketts during a visit in the Queens Silver Jubilee year, 1977.