left right Britain's Prince Philip and Queen Elizabeth leave Buckingham Palace in London, Britain, May 4, 2017. REUTERS/Neil Hall 1/32 left right Britain's Prince Philip leaves Buckingham Palace in London, May 4, 2017. REUTERS/Neil Hall 2/32 left right Britain's Prince Philip and Queen Elizabeth leave Buckingham Palace in London, Britain, May 4, 2017. REUTERS/Neil Hall 3/32 left right FILE PHOTO: Britain's Queen Elizabeth waits to read the Queen's Speech to lawmakers in the House of Lords, next to Prince Philip, during the State Opening of Parliament in central London May 9, 2012. REUTERS/Oli Scarff/POOL/File Photo 4/32 left right FILE PHOTO – Britain's Queen Elizabeth and her husband Prince Philip leave the Houses of Parliament following the annual State Opening of Parliament in London in this November 18, 2009 file photo. REUTERS/Toby Melville/Files 5/32 left right FILE PHOTO: Britain's Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh walk at Broadlands in Romsey, southern England in this undated photograph taken in 2007. REUTERS/Fiona Hanson/Pool/File Photo 6/32 left right FILE PHOTO: Britain's Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip wait to greet guests prior to a state banquet at Bellevue presidential palace in Berlin, Germany June 24, 2015. REUTERS/Wolfgang Kumm/Pool/File Photo 7/32 left right FILE PHOTO – Britain's Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip wave from the balcony of Buckingham Palace after attending the Trooping the Colour ceremony in London in this June 13, 2009 file photo. REUTERS/Kieran Doherty/Files 8/32 left right FILE PHOTO – Britain's Prince William and his bride Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge (C), pose for an official photograph, with their families, on the day of their wedding, in the throne room at Buckingham Palace, in central London in this April 29, 2011 file photo. REUTERS/Hugo Burnand/Clarence House/Handout/Files 9/32 left right FILE PHOTO – Britain's Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Phillip, the Duke of Edinburgh, wearing their Order of the Garter robes, ride in an open-topped carriage to Windsor Castle following the Garter Ceremony, in this June 18, 2001 file photo. REUTERS/Files 10/32 left right FILE PHOTO – Britain's Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip arrive for the fourth day of racing at Royal Ascot in southern England in this June 18, 2010 file photo. REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth/Files 11/32 left right FILE PHOTO – Paraguayan dictator Alfredo Stroessner (R) rides with Britain's Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, during a visit by the Prince in downtown Asuncion in this 1963 file photo. REUTERS/R. E. Adorno/Files 12/32 left right FILE PHOTO: Britain's Queen Elizabeth, Prince Philip and Prince Charles (R) watch the sack race at the annual Braemar Highland Gathering in Braemar, Scotland, Britain September 5, 2015. REUTERS/Russell Cheyne/File Photo 13/32 left right FILE PHOTO: Britain's Queen Elizabeth travels with Prince Philip on the new Scottish Borders railway line, in Scotland, September 9, 2015. REUTERS/Andrew Milligan/Pool/File Photo 14/32 left right FILE PHOTO – A Royal Collection handout photograph shows Princess Elizabeth and The Duke of Edinburgh walking in the grounds of Broadlands in southern England, the home of the Duke's uncle, Earl Mountbatten on their honeymoon, in this November 1947 file photo. The Royal Collection/Handout via Reuters/Files 15/32 left right A television journalist reports from outside Buckingham Palace in London, Britain, May 4, 2017. REUTERS/Neil Hall 16/32 left right Television journalists report from outside Buckingham Palace in London, Britain, May 4, 2017. REUTERS/Neil Hall 17/32 left right Television journalists report from outside Buckingham Palace in London, Britain, May 4, 2017. REUTERS/Neil Hall 18/32 left right Guardsmen stand on duty in the grounds of Buckingham Palace in London, Britain, May 4, 2017. REUTERS/Toby Melville 19/32 left right His Royal Highness Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh entrusts new regimental colours to Lieutenant Bronson Peacock from 3rd Battalion of The Royal Canadian Regiment at a Queen's Park ceremony in Toronto April 27, 2013. REUTERS/Fred Thornhill 20/32 left right Britain's Prince Philip visits Lord's Cricket Ground where he opened the new Warner Stand, in London, May 3, 2017. REUTERS/Arthur Edwards/Pool 21/32 left right Britain's Queen Elizabeth talks to recipients of new 'Motability' vehicles during a ceremony in Windsor Castle, Windsor April 25, 2017. REUTERS/Richard Pohle/Pool 22/32 left right Britain's Prince Philip speaks to former England captain Mike Gatting as he visits Lord's Cricket Ground where he opened the new Warner Stand, in London, May 3, 2017. REUTERS/Arthur Edwards/Pool 23/32 left right Horses are ridden past Buckingham Palace in London, Britain, May 4, 2017. REUTERS/Neil Hall 24/32 left right Armed police stand on duty in the grounds of Buckingham Palace in London, Britain, May 4, 2017. REUTERS/Toby Melville 25/32 left right A horse and carriage is driven past Buckingham Palace in London, Britain, May 4, 2017. REUTERS/Neil Hall 26/32 left right Tourists look through the railings of Buckingham Palace in London, Britain, May 4, 2017. REUTERS/Toby Melville 27/32 left right People sit and stand on the Queen Victoria Memorial opposite Buckingham Palace in London, Britain, May 4, 2017. REUTERS/Neil Hall 28/32 left right A woman sits with her dog on the Queen Victoria Memorial opposite Buckingham Palace in London, Britain, May 4, 2017. REUTERS/Neil Hall 29/32 left right People cycle past Buckingham Palace in London, Britain May 4, 2017. REUTERS/Toby Melville 30/32 left right A man strolls outside Buckingham Palace in London, Britain May 4, 2017. REUTERS/Toby Melville 31/32 left right A policeman delivers newspapers to Buckingham Palace in London, Britain May 4, 2017. REUTERS/Toby Melville 32/32 By Michael Holden | LONDON
LONDON Prince Philip, the 95-year-old husband of Britain's Queen Elizabeth, will retire from carrying out royal engagements from the autumn, Buckingham Palace said on Thursday, ending more than six decades of active public life.
Philip, who is also known as the Duke of Edinburgh and has sometimes drawn attention with headline-grabbing gaffes, has been by the queen's side throughout her 65 years on the throne and she has described him as "my strength and stay".
"Prince Philip will attend previously scheduled engagements between now and August, both individually and accompanying The Queen," the palace said in a statement.
"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, the statement added. Polls show Elizabeth, who ascended to the throne in 1952, remains hugely popular among Britons.
The announcement of Philip's retirement was made following a meeting of all senior royal staff at Buckingham Palace, news of which prompted media 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 Philip, who turns 96 next month. The couple, who married at Westminster Abbey in 1947, are due to celebrate their platinum, or 70th, wedding anniversary in November.
They have both been cutting their workload in recent years, passing on many responsibilities to son and heir Prince Charles, and grandsons, Princes William and Harry.
Philip conducted 184 official engagements in the year to March 2016, official figures show. On Wednesday he opened a new stand at Lord's Cricket Ground in London, while the queen met Prime Minister Theresa May to formally agree to the dissolution of parliament ahead of a June 8 election.
In a statement on Thursday May offered the country's "deepest gratitude and good wishes" to Philip on his retirement.
Outspoken, irascible and intensely private, Philip, a Greek-born former naval officer, developed a reputation for brusque comments and occasional gaffes at some of the thousands of ceremonial events he has attended.
A stray remark about "slitty eyes" during a visit to China in the 1980s became symbolic of his gruff and often unguarded manner. Even into his 90s, his off-the-cuff remarks could still get him into trouble, such as when he exasperatedly swore at a photographer at an event in 2015.
However, those close to him say his reputation masks an urbane wit and an unsentimental dedication to his duties.
"He has, quite simply, been my strength and stay all these years," Elizabeth said in a very rare personal tribute to Philip during a speech to mark their 50th wedding anniversary in 1997.
Despite being one of the most influential figures in the royal family for almost 70 years, he has no clear-cut constitutional role and has admitted struggling to carve out a role for himself as the queen's consort.
"There was no precedent. If I asked somebody 'what do you expect me to do?' they all looked blank – they had no idea, nobody had much idea," he told the BBC in an interview to mark his 90th birthday.
Both the queen and Philip have suffered some health issues in recent years. The queen missed a traditional Christmas church service last year for the first time in decades due to a heavy cold and was hospitalized in March 2013 with symptoms of gastroenteritis.
Philip underwent "an exploratory operation following abdominal investigations" in 2013.
He was also hospitalized 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.
Such setbacks did not deter Philip from his royal duties. He even drove former U.S. President Barack Obama and his wife around the grounds of the royals' Windsor Castle residence during a visit last year.
"I have to say I have never been driven by a Duke of Edinburgh before, but I can report it was very smooth riding," Obama said.
(Editing by Stephen Addison and Gareth Jones)