When Prince Philip married then Princess Elizabeth in 1947, he knew it was a job for life. Literally.
He took to it with gusto. He created the Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme, a program of voluntary self-
development activities for young people that is now a huge global affair. He helped found the World Wildlife Fund, a leading conservation and wilderness protection agency. His written exchange about evolution, fundamentalism and morality with Michael Mann, then dean of Windsor Castle were published as A Windsor Correspondence, one of 14 books he authored.
Prince Philip’s heavy workload
And through it all, he carried out a punishing number of duties. By the time he reached 65, in the mid 1980s, he was averaging around 600 a year.
Prince Philip : pic.twitter.com/9D4ROp2NR9
— Peter Hunt (@BBCPeterHunt) May 4, 2017
Inexorably, however, the long hand of time began reining in Prince Philip. He undertook 419 engagements by the time he celebrated his 80th birthday. By the time he turned 90 in 2011, he’s slowed even more, to 330. Ill health (a heart scare as well as a bladder infection and other ailments) took its toll. He last visited Canada in 2013.
Still he kept going. Until today. “His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh has decided that he will no longer carry out public engagements from the autumn of this year,” Buckingham Palace announced.
Why did Prince Philip announce his retirement now?
The reason for the timing likely has to do with the pattern of his work schedule in 2017:
- January: 0 engagements
- February: 7 engagements
- March: 21 engagements
- April: 12 engagements
The contrast between March and April is particularly striking. Prince Philip was ramping up his workload in March, undertaking more and more engagements. Then, in April, a sharp drop off in the middle of the month, with only three engagements after Easter Sunday.
Prince Philip’s retirement may have jolted royal watchers, but it was long telegraphed.