AND with the raise of his hat and one final wave, Prince Philip farewelled the public life.

The Duke of Edinburgh, the husband of Queen Elizabeth, the world's longest-reigning living monarch, said goodbye after attending his final royal engagement by meeting Royal Marines at Buckingham Palace on a dreary day in London.

It was the 96-year-old's 22,219th and final solo public engagement.

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In front of an adoring crowd, who braved the conditions, Philip met with soldiers who had completed a 2,678-kilometre trek for charity.

"You should all be locked up," the Prince joked.

He then watched as the soldiers marched in formation before they saluted their Captain General with three loud cheers.

The watching crowd, not to be outdone, added their voices for a fourth.

A band played 'For He's a Jolly Good Fellow' and then he was gone. For the final time.

Prince Philip has been a workhorse for the monarchy, giving 5,496 speeches, writing 14 books and touring around the world on 637 solo trips, according to ABC News.

He is the patron, president of a member of over 780 organisations and has championed causes in numerous fields.

And who can forget when former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott honoured Philip with a knighthood with a controversial "captain's pick"?

However, the Prince's long career has not been without it's setbacks, his often-colourful humour drawing criticism for its inappropriateness.

For instance, when he met with the President of Nigeria, who was in national dress, in 2003, the Prince remarked: "You like you're ready for bed!".

Despite his retirement, the Prince will still be seen in public life, attending evens alongside the Queen from time to time.

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