Following an emergency meeting at Buckingham Palace early Thursday morning, it was announced that 95-year-old Prince Philip will retire from public service sometime during fall 2017.
Buckingham Palace released an official statement, saying that Queen Elizabeth supported her husband's decision before clarifying that Prince Philip (also known as the Duke of Edinburgh) may still decide to attend certain events:
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.
Prince Philip's retirement will not change the Queen's schedule, according to Buckingham Palace. Last year, the duke's schedule included 110 days of official engagements, which made him one of the most active members of the royal family.
On Wednesday, Philip cracked a joke at the Lord's Cricket Ground, where he had come on official palace business to open a stand, saying he was "the world's most experienced plaque unveiler."
Five years ago, Buckingham Palace announced that Prince Philip would scale back his workload, but he has since remained very involved in royal engagements.
Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip will mark their 70th wedding anniversary in November. A few years younger than her husband, the queen is 91, and she too has curbed her schedule in recent years.
In 2011, Philip spoke with the BBC in an interview to mark his 90th birthday. Even then, he had the distinction of being "the longest serving consort in British history." He also seemed baffled by the question of what he was most proud of during the decades he had carried out official palace business. "I couldn't care less. Who cares what I think about it, I mean, it's ridiculous," he answered.
On the topic of environmental conservation, the prince was much more forthcoming. He served as the World Wildlife Fund's first president, and his enthusiasm for safeguarding the environment was unmistakable:
If we've got this extraordinary diversity on this globe it seems awfully silly for us to destroy it. All these other creatures have an equal right to exist here, we have no prior rights to the Earth than anybody else and if they're here let's give them a chance to survive.
Indicative of his reputation for being plain spoken, Prince Philip closed his 2011 BBC interview by saying his decision to pull back a bit from public life had to do with age. It was harder for him to remember names and places.
In his own words: "It's better to get out before you reach the sell-by date."