Prince Philip turns 90 and vows to 'slow down'

 

The Duke of Edinburgh: "I reckon I've done my bit."

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The Duke of Edinburgh, who has turned 90, has told the BBC he is "winding down" and reducing his workload as a senior member of the royal family.

In an interview with the BBC's Fiona Bruce, the Queen's husband said: "I reckon I've done my bit."

He is spending his birthday hosting a Buckingham Palace event for the Royal National Institute for Deaf People, which is marking its centenary.

He will attend a private service of thanksgiving at Windsor on Sunday.

On Friday a 62-gun salute by the Honourable Artillery Company marked his birthday.

The Royal Mint has also marked the milestone by producing a commemorative £5 coin, available in cupro-nickel, gold and silver, as well as a rare platinum edition at £5,450.

The souvenir piece features a portrait of Prince Philip on one side and the Queen on the other - the first time a reigning monarch and consort have appeared on opposite sides of a UK coin.

Sculptor Mark Richards, who designed the coin, said: "The challenge for me, in creating this design, was to capture a man who gives great support to the monarch and the country, while remaining largely in the background.

"Therefore I have focused on a close-up of his face with all its accumulated dignity, wisdom and experience."

'Sell-by date'

The Queen turned 85 in April and will reach her Diamond Jubilee next year, marking 60 years since she came to the throne.

Analysis

In the early years of the Queen's reign Philip, restless by instinct and impatient by nature, found his role - or lack of it - very frustrating.

But through his undoubted energy and sheer bloody-mindedness, Philip did carve out a distinct role for himself.

He was one of the first to champion nature conservation: he created an award scheme from which some six million young people have now benefited, and he immersed himself in a range of other issues, science and technology, spiritual awareness and a host of others.

His plain speaking and attempts to relieve the tension of endless royal engagements with his own brand of humour have sometimes got him into trouble.

But he has remained his own man and above all he has provided unflinching support to his wife, the Queen.

The success of her reign has been due, in no small part, to him.

She married Prince Philip in 1947, making him the longest-serving consort in British history.

In the interview with the BBC, he talked about his advancing years, saying it was better to get out "before you reach your sell-by date".

"I reckon I've done my bit so I want to enjoy myself a bit now, with less responsibility, less frantic rushing about, less preparation, less trying to think of something to say," he said.

"On top of that, your memory's going - I can't remember names and things."

Over many decades, the duke has embraced a range of causes including the Duke of Edinburgh's Award Scheme and conservation, though he insisted he was not a "green" campaigner.

"There's a difference between being concerned for the conservation of nature and being a bunny hugger," he added.

BBC royal correspondent Peter Hunt said the prince's comments were typically frank admissions.

He said the Duke of Edinburgh was a no-nonsense royal whose crucial role had been to support the Queen, especially during years of turmoil.

On the eve of his birthday Prince Philip, dressed in his Grenadier Guards uniform, took the salute at the annual beating retreat ceremony on Horse Guards Parade.

Watched by 4,000 members of the public, almost 300 members of bands of the Household Division performed under a blue evening sky.

The division was supported by the King's Troop Royal Horse Artillery and the United States Army Europe Band and Chorus.

The latter brought a touch of wartime nostalgia to the ceremony, singing the White Cliffs Of Dover and slow-dancing in pairs.

The origins of the beating retreat ceremony lie in the early days of chivalry when beating or sounding retreat called a halt to the day's fighting, a return to camp and the mounting of the guard for the night.

 

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