The recent announcement that Prince Philip will be stepping down from his engagements didn’t come as too much of a surprise to the public, considering the Queen’s consort will shortly be celebrating his 96th birthday.
But while the majority of the public assumed that the Duke of Edinburgh had simply felt ready to take his retirement (a whole 30 years later than most, it has to be said), a royal butler has spoken out to reveal what it really was that pushed the Duke to make the announcement this month.
Worries about the Prince’s health have been lingering for some time, particularly as he and the Queen had to pull out of engagements over Christmas due to illness. However, it wasn’t solely his health that encouraged Prince Philip to slow down; two have his friends have recently passed away, leaving him reportedly questioning his own mortality.
Speaking to the Daily Star, the butler, who has worked at Buckingham Palace for more than 10 years, said: “That (the death of his friends) hurt him quite bad.
“He thought: ‘I’m 95, I need to slow down’.
“And the really bad cold he had before Christmas hurt him too.
“If you asked two years ago he would not have retired at all. But because of his friends’ death and what happened at Christmas, he feels this is the right choice.”
One of the friends is believed to be Sir Brian McGrath; the former head of the Duke’s household and long-term friend of the royal family. He officially retired in the 1990s, but remained close to Prince Philip – even keeping an office at the palace – until his death in June last year.
It is believed that Prince Harry will replace his grandfather as head of Britain’s elite Royal Marines.