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.
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.