United Kingdom

Prince Philip's 22,217 royal engagements started with a boxing match

With a debonair doff of his bowler hat and a quick wave to the crowd, Prince Philip ended his 22,219th – and final – solo engagement.

In typically stoic style he had braved torrential rain to congratulate some Royal Marines on taking on a gruelling charity challenge, and joked they should have been ‘locked up’ for their madcap feats.

After 65 years of being the Queen’s consort, since she acceded to the throne in 1952, the Duke of Edinburgh completed his last public event on August 2, 2017, aged 96.

With a debonair doff of his bowler hat and a quick wave to the crowd, Prince Philip ended his 22,219th – and final – solo engagement. In typically stoic style he had braved torrential rain to congratulate some Royal Marines on taking on a gruelling charity challenge, and joked they should have been ‘locked up’ for their madcap feats

During that time, he delivered an astonishing 5,496 speeches and took part in 637 solo overseas visits to 143 countries

Prince Philip’s first public engagement was the boxing finals of the Federation of London Boys Clubs at the Royal Albert Hall on March 2, 1948, shortly after becoming the organisation’s patron

During that time, he delivered an astonishing 5,496 speeches and took part in 637 solo overseas visits to 143 countries. It was his breathtaking work ethic which led one of his biographers Tim Heald to quip: ‘If there wasn’t a Duke of Edinburgh now, we should have to think seriously about inventing one.’

Prince Philip’s first public engagement was the boxing finals of the Federation of London Boys Clubs at the Royal Albert Hall on March 2, 1948, shortly after becoming the organisation’s patron.

As a sporting enthusiast, the Duke of Edinburgh had a prime ringside seat for the action and was said in a news bulletin from the time to have ‘watched all the battles with keen enjoyment’.

It was the start of a colourful public service career, where his close-to-the-bone remarks often grabbed the headlines.

On one occasion in 1969, while attending a Royal Variety performance, he asked Tom Jones: ‘What do you gargle with, pebbles?’

And during a visit to a school in Salford in 2001, when 13-year-old Andrew Adams told Prince Philip he wanted to go into space, the plain-talking Royal quipped: ‘You’re too fat to be an astronaut.’

He raised a laugh during the unveiling of a plaque at Lord’s cricket ground in May 2017 to mark the opening of a new stand when he joked: ‘You’re about to see the world’s most experienced plaque unveiler.’

But there was also a serious side to the Duke’s work.

The Marines later gave three cheers in the Duke’s honour – to which his ever-understated response was to raise his black bowler hat and give it a wave

With his naval background one of his many achievements was helping save the Cutty Sark clipper, which was due to be scrapped after the Second World War.

So it was a particularly poignant public engagement when he accompanied the Queen to open the vessel to the public at its home in Greenwich, South London, in 1957.

On his last engagement he wore his Royal Marines tie and raincoat to meet troops who had run 1,664 miles over 100 days.

The Marines later gave three cheers in the Duke’s honour – to which his ever-understated response was to raise his black bowler hat and give it a wave.

Photographer Yui Mok recalled: ‘That was his character – no fuss, no airs and graces.’

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