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Duke of Edinburgh to retire from official duties this autumn

The Palace said in a statement it was the Duke’s decision taken with the support of the Queen.

The Duke of Edinburgh will retire from public engagements this autumn, Buckingham Palace has said.

Philip’s decision to step down from his official royal duties has not been taken for medical reasons and has the full support of the Queen.

Prime Minister Theresa May paid tribute to the Queen’s consort, saying he has given the monarch “steadfast support”, while Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said the Duke’s ”clear sense of public duty” had inspired people for more than 60 years.

The Queen’s public schedule will continue as normal but it is understood other members of the Royal Family will “step up” in support of the monarch in her role as head of state.

A royal aide said: “This is not a decision taken for medical reasons. The Duke decided this is the right time; he’s nearly 96 and most people will have retired 30 years earlier.”

Philip has many interests away from public life from being an avid reader to supporting the sport of carriage driving, although he does not compete.

The aide added: “He’s looking forward to enjoying more of his leisure time.”

It is understood the Duke had been thinking about stepping down from public duties over the past few months and took the decision to make the announcement now as his diary for the autumn would have been finalised during this period.

But Buckingham Palace stressed he may decide to attend certain events from time to time.

The Palace said in a statement: “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.”

The first acknowledgement of Philip’s advancing years came in 2010 when it was announced he would relinquish his association with a number of his charities on his 90th birthday the following year.

His decision to retire from public life comes after a momentous six-year period for the Royal Family, from the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s wedding in 2011, the Queen’s 90th birthday celebrations last year and the Queen becoming Britain’s longest-reigning monarch, passing her great-great-grandmother Queen Victoria’s record, in September 2015.

Philip is expected to spend more time at Windsor Castle, where he is ranger of Windsor Great Park and has overseen major developments at the estate. Although he is not involved in its day-to-day running, he still takes a keen interest.

And despite withdrawing from public contact with his charities and organisations, the Duke will still keep in touch via correspondence – like signing certificates and sending messages.

The Queen will continue with her official duties as normal and will now have more solo engagements without the Duke but is likely to be joined by other members of the Royal Family who will also carry out additional engagements in support of her role as head of state.

The Duke of Cambridge has already announced he will be leaving his job as an air ambulance helicopter pilot in the summer with the intention of taking on more royal duties.

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