Duke of Edinburgh makes final royal engagement

The Duke of Edinburgh attending the Captain General's Parade as his final individual public engagement, at Buckingham Palace Credit: Yui Mok/PA Wire

The Duke of Edinburgh was hailed as a "wonderful figurehead" as he met with Royal Marines during his last official royal engagement before retirement.

Braving the rain to attend the Captain General's Parade on Wednesday, the 96-year-old helped the Royal Marines mark the end of a mammoth running challenge which saw members complete a 1,664 mile trek as part of the 1664 Global Challenge.

It came following an announcement in May that the Duke, who holds the role of Captain General, would be retiring from royal engagements after more than 65 years supporting the Queen as well as attending events for his own charities and organisations.

Prince Philip is himself a former Royal Navy officer Credit: Yui Mok/PA Wire

The parade at Buckingham Palace was a fitting final solo engagement for the Duke who is himself a former Royal Navy officer.

Prince Philip's association with the Royal Marines dates back 64 years to June 2, 1953 when he was appointed Captain General in succession to the late King George VI.

Meeting with some of the men who took part in the running challenge which began in Plymouth on April 25 and saw participants running 16.64 miles a day for 100 days the Duke was told he had been a "wonderful figurehead for all Royal Marines to look up to".

While Corporal Jamie Thompson, 31, who took part in the run said the Duke's presence was an "honour".

He said: "This is historic because this is the Duke's last royal engagement and we're a part of it, the Royal Marines are a part of it - so it's an absolute honour."

The Duke of Edinburgh will conduct his last official royal engagement today. Credit: PA
The Duke of Edinburgh inspecting troops outside Buckingham Palace during the annual Trooping the Colour parade in 2012. Credit: PA

Buckingham Palace has confirmed that although the Duke's diary of engagements came to an end on Wednesday he may decide to attend certain events alongside the Queen in future.

On announcing his retirement, Philip was praised for his public service with Theresa May leading the tributes saying he had given the Queen "steadfast support''.

In a series of tweets after his final engagement the PM also hailed the 22,219 solo engagements he has carried out since 1952.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn added that the Duke's ''clear sense of public duty'' had inspired people for more than 60 years.

While others like Tony Mullins, who was one of the first recipient of Prince Philip's Duke of Edinburgh award scheme's gold award, will be sad to see the royal taking a step back from the public eye because they themselves have been personally inspired by him.

During his final official engagement Philip took time to meet veterans and cadets before receiving the 1664 Global Challenge baton.

The challenge, which recognises the year 1664 when the Corps was founded, has seen Royal Marines all over the world raising money for the military unit's charity with a number of ingenious feats.

Following the parade there was also a march past, a royal salute and three cheers for the Captain General.

Over the years Philip has attended many Royal Marines events and in 2014, to mark the Corps' 350th anniversary, the Duke wore his full ceremonial uniform as Captain General to the state opening of parliament.

At the 2014 state opening of parliament the Duke wore his full ceremonial uniform as Captain General to mark the Corps' 350th anniversary. Credit: PA