Prince Philip will retire from public life in the autumn, thus removing any obligation to perform official royal duties as the Duke of Edinburgh, Buckingham Palace has revealed.
The announcement has led many to speculate whether the Duke will attend US President Donald Trump’s upcoming state visit, likely to be held at the end of the year.
Royal commentator Richard Fitzwilliams told The Independent the decision gives the Duke the “dignified option” to step back from any arrangement he would rather not attend.
“He will be retiring from public life - so that means he won't have anything he has to go to. He will choose depending on whether the Queen might feel the need to have him by her side when she has to deal with Donald Trump for example,” he said.
“If he doesn't feel it would be appropriate for his health or how he is feeling he has the option, and the dignified option, to step back.”
A number of past tensions between the Republican leader and certain members of the royal family could place strain on any upcoming state visit. Prince Harry is reportedly “not a fan” of the President, and Mr Trump has previously tweeted about Kate Middleton sunbathing topless.
Whether the Duke decides to attend the US visit remains to be seen, but Mr Fitzwilliams believes the Duke will remain a prominent figure in public life.
“I think we’ll see a lot of him, in the rare occasions in the past when he’s been ill, he’s been a most impatient patient and a live wire all his life,” he said.
“He is a tremendously active person, the sense of this announcement is to preserve dignity but he will remain part of this precious institution.
“Expect him at the palace balcony, expect him to be at appropriate state occasions when he feels as though he should appear.”
The announcement came after royal staff from across the country were called to an emergency meeting at Buckingham Palace on Thursday, sparking rumours that either the Queen or her husband were in poor health.
The full statement explaining his decision read: "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.
"The Duke of Edinburgh is Patron, President or a member of over 780 organisations, with which he will continue to be associated, although he will no longer play an active role by attending engagements.
"Her Majesty will continue to carry out a full programme of official engagements with the support of members of the Royal Family."
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