The Duke Of Edinburgh Attends The Captain General's Parade
The Duke Of Edinburgh Attends The Captain General's Parade

Inside Prince Philip’s final days

Prince Philip's hopes for an orderly retirement were kiboshed by COVID-19.

He was 96 when he officially retired, with his last formal engagement a celebration of servicemen who had completed a lengthy trek as part of the Royal Marines Charity.

With his ailing health, which included chronic arthritis, Philip took a step back from public life in 2017, although he had already wound back his engagements after being forced to pull out of commitments the previous winter when he contracted a heavy cold.

 

He retired to Wood Farm, a cottage on the grounds of the Queen's Sandringham estate, where he planned to host family and friends and spend his final years doing the things he loved - reading, painting watercolours and writing letters.

While at Wood Farm, he oversaw the installation of a new kitchen in the modest cottage.

He also completed carriage driving events, the equestrian sport he competed in and helped develop after giving up polo in 1971.

 

The period at Sandringham marked a new chapter for the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh, with the two sometimes forced to spend weeks apart - although the couple celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary shortly after his retirement with a low key family dinner at Windsor.

Philip would sometimes travel with the Queen by helicopter and sometimes stayed at Windsor Castle.

While he did not take part in public duties, the Duke still joined the Queen in events for staff such as judging a fancy dress competition at Balmoral.

The Queen would come to visit him at Wood Farm but she could never stay long as she was drawn away for official engagements even though she, too, had dialled back her public appearances.

The Duke reportedly relished spending his time at Wood Farm, where he enjoyed painting and visits from family members.

 

"He is enjoying reading things he's always wanted to read and gets up to what he wants without an equerry telling him he has to be elsewhere, or a camera following him," a friend reportedly told the Daily Mail soon after Philip's retirement.

Prince Harry's wedding to Meghan Markle in May 2018 was a highlight of the Duke's retirement years, with the then 96-year-old looking to be in remarkable form, just weeks after a hip replacement.

But the plans for a fuss-free retirement were dealt a blow in 2020 when COVID-19 prompted the Queen and the Duke to isolate together at Windsor Castle.

The pandemic touched the Royal Family personally, with both Prince Charles and Prince William contracting COVID-19. The associated lockdowns meant the Queen made no official public appearances between March and October.

Both the Queen and the Duke received the first of their COVID-19 vaccinations in January, at Windsor Castle.

But their time together in isolation was not long, with the Prince admitted to hospital on February 16.

He returned to Windsor Castle on March 16 and died there on April 9.

Originally published as Inside Prince Philip's final days



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