Prince Philip, 96, bids adieu with final solo official duty

Prince Philip, 96, made his 22,219th — and final — solo public engagement, braving heavy rain to meet Royal Marines at Buckingham Palace.

LONDON — For over 65 years, he has been the unwavering presence alongside Britain’s longest-serving monarch, the consummate consort and royal representative.

On Wednesday Prince Philip, 96, made his 22,219th — and final — solo public engagement, braving heavy rain to meet Royal Marines at Buckingham Palace.

The royal appeared in good spirits, waving to cheering crowds and joking with the soldiers, who have completed a 1,664-mile trek to raise money for charity.

“You all should be locked up,” he quipped, making the soldiers laugh.

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Philip announced he was stepping down from public duties in May. The royal, known for his sense of humor and gaffes, recently joked about his big retirement day, telling celebrity chef Prue Leith: “I’m discovering what it’s like to be on your last legs.”

Also known as the Duke of Edinburgh, he will still appear at Queen Elizabeth II’s side — from time to time — as the 91-year-old monarch soldiers on.

Philip is patron, president or a member of over 780 organizations, with which he will continue to be associated — but he won’t play an active role by attending engagements. The queen supported the decision.

Wednesday’s event marks a major landmark for the man born Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark in Corfu on June 10, 1921, to Princess Alice of Battenberg and Prince Andrew of Greece. Amid the upheaval of the military coup that overthrew his uncle, King Constantine, in 1922, the family fled.

King George V, the queen’s grandfather, sent a Royal Navy cruiser to evacuate Philip’s family and he was whisked to safety in a cot made from an orange box. Later, he rarely saw his parents and went to school in Germany and Britain.

Philip has had a long association with the military and had once had promising military career. He joined the Royal Navy as a cadet in 1939 and served during World War II, winning mention in dispatches for service aboard the battleship HMS Valiant at Cape Matapan, on Greece’s Peloponnesian peninsula. He rose to the level of commander.

Two years after the war ended, Philip married the future queen at Westminster Abbey when she was 21 and he was 26. He renounced his Greek title and King George VI made him the Duke of Edinburgh. His career…

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