LONDON (AP/CBS NEWS) – Buckingham Palace has announced that Prince Philip, the husband of Queen Elizabeth II, will stop carrying out public engagements sometime between now and August.
The palace said Thursday that the 95-year-old Philip will continue heading numerous charitable organizations but will not play an active role attending engagements. The announcement happened after staff were called in for a meeting at Buckingham Palace.
Prime Minister Theresa May has expressed “our deepest gratitude and good wishes” to Prince Philip following the announcement of his impending retirement, and has thanked him for supporting his wife, Queen Elizabeth II.
Prince Philip joked with crowds during a visit to a London cricket club Wednesday about his wealth of experience when it comes to public engagements. He is the longest-serving consort in British history.
In the past Philip has suffered heart problems but has maintained a vigorous public schedule. Prince Philip attended 219 royal engagements last year and turns 96 next month.
Prince Philip hinted he may be ready for a break six years ago – “I reckon I’ve done my bit, so I want to enjoy myself a bit now.’
Palace officials say the Queen fully supports her husband’s decision. The palace did not offer any new details about his health – but the Duke has suffered from heart problems in recent years.
Full statement from Buckingham Palace:
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.
Prince Philip will attend previously scheduled engagements between now and August, both individually and accompanying The Queen. 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 Duke of Edinburgh is Patron, President or a member of over 780 organisations, with which he will continue to be associated, although he will no longer play an active role by attending engagements.
Her Majesty will continue to carry out a full programme of official engagements with the support of members of the Royal Family.