Prince Philip to step down from public duties

039;One of the biggest myths about the Royal Family is that they work hard', says campaign group Republic

Prince Philip will no longer carry out official public engagements

In a statement issued last night about Prince Philip, who will turn 96 next month, the Royal Family said the Queen's husband would attend previously scheduled engagements between now and August, both individually and accompanying the Queen. From July 1939 he began to correspond with the then 13-year-old Princess Elizabeth, who was his distant cousin, whom he had met for the first time in 1934.

Philip saw the amusing side of the announcement on Thursday when he met mathematician Sir Michael Atiyah at a reception for members of the Order of Merit at St James's Palace.

"We've been honoured to have hosted the Duke in New Zealand on 14 occasions dating back to 1953".

"The Queen will miss him being always at her side but I'm sure they will still support each other and I hope the Duke continues with many activities he enjoys for many years ahead".

"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", it continued.

Such setbacks did not deter Philip from his royal duties.

On Wednesday he described himself as "the world s most experienced plaque-unveiler" on a visit to Lord s cricket ground in London.

The statement came after high anticipation and worst-case speculation about why Queen Elizabeth had called an emergency meeting at Buckingham Palace.

Members at the event on Thursday included former Australian prime minister John Howard, TV presenter Sir David Attenborough, artist David Hockney, the former Commons speaker Betty Boothroyd and entrepreneur James Dyson.

"'On behalf of the whole country, I want to offer our deepest gratitude and good wishes to His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh following today's announcement that he will stand down from public duties in the Autumn", she said in a statement.

Prince William, second in line to the throne, has already announced that he is leaving his job as an air ambulance pilot this year in order to undertake more royal duties.

Prince Philip is patron, president or a member of more than 780 organisations, and while he will maintain his association with them, he will "no longer play an active role by attending engagements", it said.

While just hours after the official announcement was made he also joked about his advanced years at palace reception.

Diane Cole, 76, a retired Briton living in Melbourne, Australia, said: "The thing I like the most is when he. speaks his mind".

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