For Prince Philip, retirement brought the sweetness of simplicity.

Every detail of the Duke of Edinburgh's life had been scheduled, monitored and directed.

Under constant scrutiny as the husband of Queen Elizabeth II, his life has been dedicated to public service.

But since the Duke of Edinburgh withdrew from public life two and a half years ago, he has become somewhat of a recluse, shutting himself away in a farmhouse.

He lives alone in Wood Farm on Sandringham estate after transforming it into a private retreat.

The Prince lives in Wood Farm on Sandringham Estate
The Prince lives in Wood Farm on Sandringham Estate

There he enjoys his time tucked away from the other royals, reading, painting watercolours and having friends to stay.

A friend of the royal said the Queen feels the Duke has earned himself a ‘proper retirement’ after being 'on duty' since the pair married in 1947.

They told the Daily Mail : “She knows him too well — if he was still at the centre of royal life he’d feel he had to be involved.

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“Being at Wood Farm means he’s not too far away, but far enough to be able to relax.”

However, the Prince has suffered a few setbacks after he narrowly escaped a car crash in January.

The Duke of Edinburgh can only drive accompanied outside of the estate
The Duke of Edinburgh can only drive accompanied outside of the estate

Despite escaping the collision unscathed - when his Land Rover Freelander flipped after hitting a vehicle carrying two women and a baby - it has impacted him in other ways.

Days after the incident, he jumped straight back behind the wheel but was forced to give up his driving freedoms after a public outcry.

Now he can only drive alone around the royal estates but must be accompanied by a driver everywhere else.

A courtier said: "It means if he wants to go anywhere he is dependent on somebody else, and things can't be as spontaneous as he likes."

Unsurprisingly, the 98-year-old has outlived may of his peers and spends a lot of time alone.

Of late, his most consistent visitor outside of the royal family is Penny Countess Mountbatten, the estranged wife of Earl Mountbatten.

The Queen feels her husband deserves a 'proper retirement'
The Queen feels her husband deserves a 'proper retirement'
The Queen and Prince Philip married in 1947
The Queen and Prince Philip married in 1947

When the 66-year-old took up carriage-driving the pair frequently went riding together - but now only go in the summer months.

Rumours of a decline in the Prince's health have peaked again, after he was admitted to hospital yesterday for a 'pre-existing condition'.

He is expected to spend the run-up to Christmas in care at King Edward VII's hospital in central London - but as a 'precautionary measure'.

A Buckingham Palace statement on Friday said: “The Duke of Edinburgh travelled from Norfolk this morning to the King Edward VII hospital in London for observation and treatment in relation to a pre-existing condition.

“The admission is a precautionary measure, on the advice of His Royal Highness’s doctor.”