Prince Philip smiles during the transfer of the Colonel-in-Chief of The Rifles at Windsor Castle this afternoon

Keeping them laughing as he goes! Sprightly Prince Philip, 99, proves retirement hasn’t dulled his legendary wit as he cracks jokes with Army bugler at Windsor Castle during rare public engagement to hand over historic Colonel-in-Chief title to Camilla

  • The Duke of Edinburgh transferred role as Colonel-in-Chief of The Rifles to the Duchess of Cornwall today
  • Philip, who retired in 2017, was nearly 100 miles apart from Camilla, as they both carried out ceremonies
  • Philip, 99, was at Windsor Castle in Berkshire, while the duchess was at Highgrove House in Gloucestershire
  • Duke was pictured with Queen to mark his 99th birthday last month – and at Beatrice’s wedding last Friday

The Duke of Edinburgh may rarely be seen in public nowadays, but showed he has lost none of his mischievous sense of humour when he joked with a soldier about his fitness levels at a brief military engagement today.

Philip, 99, shared a chuckle with Lance Corporal Colin Streetin, 33, when he attended a Windsor Castle ceremony to formally hand over his role as Colonel-in-Chief of the infantry regiment The Rifles to the Duchess of Cornwall.

The Duke has been closely associated with The Rifles and its earlier regiments for almost 70 years, but he has now handed over his role to Camilla. Amid extreme social distancing during the coronavirus pandemic, she took part in the second half of the ceremony 100 miles away, at her Highgrove home in Gloucestershire, in a similar event.

The sprightly Duke carefully walked down the steps of Windsor Castle’s Equerries’ Entrance to meet four buglers from the Band and Bugles of The Rifles during the three-minute ceremony. Lance Corporal Streetin, of Yeovil, said after that Philip had asked him long he had been playing the bugle for and he told him that it has been ten years.

He said: ‘He asked me if that was all I did, the bugling, and I told him that we were assault pioneers as well. He said ‘obviously keeping up your fitness then?’ and then kind of looked me up and down and I was thinking ‘Are you trying to say I am fat?!’ That’s what we were laughing about. He’s a very fit man himself for 99. Just incredible. ‘

He said the event had meant a great deal to himself and his colleagues, adding: ‘In my lifetime I don’t think I will ever do anything like this again. I don’t think the Colonel-in-Chief will change again in the time I’ll be doing it. So it’s been a great honour to step in. Someone of his character, his charisma, you can’t go wrong. That’s what we like, we are all banter. And that’s what he is. ‘ 

Lance Corporal Streetin said he played once for the Duke before at the Royal Albert Hall in 2014, adding: ‘And we almost gave him a heart attack then, as were so loud, so he’s doing well to be fair!’ 

Meanwhile, Buckingham Palace confirmed this afternoon that the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh will travel to Balmoral Castle in Aberdeenshire for their annual summer break in early August.

In his role Colonel-in-Chief of The Rifles, Philip appeared at Windsor this afternoon to take part in the official hand-over of the position after an involvement of 67 years to his successor, the Duchess of Cornwall.   

Prince Philip smiles during the transfer of the Colonel-in-Chief of The Rifles at Windsor Castle this afternoon

Prince Philip smiles during the transfer of the Colonel-in-Chief of The Rifles at Windsor Castle this afternoon

The Duke of Edinburgh waves day as he arrives for the transfer of the Colonel-in-Chief of The Rifles at Windsor Castle

The Duke of Edinburgh waves day as he arrives for the transfer of the Colonel-in-Chief of The Rifles at Windsor Castle

Some 100 miles away at Highgrove House in Gloucestershire this afternoon, Camilla was officially welcomed to the regiment

Prince Philip takes part in rare engagement at Windsor Castle

      The Duke waves at Windsor Castle today The Duke today takes part in a rare official public engagement as he transfers his role as Colonel-in-Chief of The Rifles

The Duke today takes part in a rare official public engagement in Windsor as he transfers his Colonel-in-Chief role

Philip, pictured today, has served as Colonel-in-Chief of successive Regiments which now make up The Rifles since 1953

Philip, pictured today, has served as Colonel-in-Chief of successive Regiments which now make up The Rifles since 1953

The Duke has been Colonel-in-Chief of The Rifles since its formation in 2007 but his connection stretches back further, as he has served as Colonel-in-Chief of successive Regiments which now make up The Rifles since 1953.

Camilla was appointed Royal Colonel of 4th Battalion The Rifles in 2007. Today, Philip stepped out of the castle’s Equerries Entrance, smart in his blazer, regimental tie and highly polished brogues, cheerily waving his hand.

The Assistant Colonel Commandant, Major General Tom Copinger-Symes, offered the salute and thanked him for his support and service to The Rifles, and their forming and antecedent Regiments. 

He told him: ‘Your Royal Highness, Colonel-in-Chief, good morning. And happy Salamander Day [the annual regimental Day]. All Rifleman, whether serving or retired would like to thank you for 67 years of continuous service, support and leadership to the Rifles and to our forming and antecedent regiments.

‘And on this occasion, as you hand over your duties, as Colonel-in-Chief to her Royal Highness, the Duchess of Cornwall, we would like to wish you fair wind and following seas. And with that, Sir, may I have your leave for the Bugle Major to sound the Rifle Call and No More Parades.’

He later explained that the ‘fair wind and following seas’ was in reference to the duke’s distinguished naval service.

Four Buglers, of The Band and Bugles of The Rifles, then sounded The Rifles Assembly call, followed by the ‘No More Parades’ call, to mark The Duke of Edinburgh’s final ceremony as Colonel-in-Chief. 

Philip – who is a patron, president or a member of more than 780 organisations – has been officially retired since 2017, although he appeared on the balcony at the Cenotaph remembrance event in November that year.

But a palace spokesman said he had been asked by The Rifles if they could pay tribute to his service with a ceremonial event and, as he was at Windsor Castle, he was happy to facilitate it. 

Philip smiled and looked the buglers with interest as they began to play and waved his hand in farewell as they had finished. But Major General Copinger-Symes returned to ask him if he would like to speak to the buglers personally.

The Duke – who had a hip replacement in 2018 – appeared to hesitate for a second as there were four stone steps to navigate, but was clearly determined to pay his respects and carefully walked down each step, one at a time, sideways, before walking across the gravel of the castle’s famous quadrangle to speak to them.

The Duke at Windsor Castle today, flanked by Assistant Colonel Commandant, Major General Tom Copinger-Symeas

The Duke at Windsor Castle today, flanked by Assistant Colonel Commandant, Major General Tom Copinger-Symeas

The Duke of Edinburgh smiles at Windsor Castle today during a ceremony for the transfer of the Colonel-in-Chief of the Rifles

The Duke of Edinburgh smiles at Windsor Castle today during a ceremony for the transfer of the Colonel-in-Chief of the Rifles

The Duke of Edinburgh is pictured at Windsor Castle during the ceremony which took place this afternoon

The Duke of Edinburgh is pictured at Windsor Castle during the ceremony which took place this afternoon

The Duke of Edinburgh speaks to a bugler at Windsor Castle during a ceremony for the transfer of the Colonel-in-Chief today

The Duke of Edinburgh speaks to a bugler at Windsor Castle during a ceremony for the transfer of the Colonel-in-Chief today

The Duke of Edinburgh stands ram-rod straight at Windsor Castle during a ceremony for the Colonel-in-Chief transfer today

The Duke of Edinburgh stands ram-rod straight at Windsor Castle during a ceremony for the Colonel-in-Chief transfer today

After moving with impressive speed, with one arm behind his back, he spoke to each of the four buglers, before making his way back inside, negotiating the stairs upwards with ease.  

Speaking after the ceremony, Major General Copinger-Symes said: ‘Clearly this is a mark of our respect for him and his fondness for soldiers and servicemen and women of all kinds. He is a military man through and through. One is always slightly worried one is going to do something wrong and he will spot it before I spot it.

‘You see that energy from him interacting with the service people which is incredibly inspiring for all of us.

‘We couldn’t have been more lucky in having His Royal Highness as our Colonel-in-Chief, his ability to make an instant connection with Riflemen, whether junior or senior, to be able to put them at their ease and get the best from them and feel like they are the only person in the room – or the Quadrangle at Windsor Castle….so we couldn’t have been better served by him, and for 67 years. We have been very lucky. ‘

He said the duke had been clearly determined to make his way down the steps ‘come what may’ and wanted to afford the Riflemen the respect they had afforded him.

‘We have been bless with all our Royal Colonels,’ he continued, ‘The real magic of this is the self-respect for the Rifleman and that sense that someone very senior, very important, very busy, spends time and focuses on them and you can see people swell with pride. ‘

He added: ‘I made a reference to fair winds and following seas as I thought it was a rather lovely way of saying goodbye to somebody from the senior service [the Royal Navy], which blends his own service with the navy with the Rifles saying thank you.’

He said they would have a ‘wonderful’ replacement in the Duchess of Cornwall. ‘I know how much it means to her, too, to step up,’ he said.

‘We couldn’t be more fortunate, she has exactly the same qualities as the Duke to make people feel like they are the only one in the room.’ 

The Duke of Edinburgh smiles as he speaks to a bugler at Windsor Castle during the ceremony this afternoon

The Duke of Edinburgh smiles as he speaks to a bugler at Windsor Castle during the ceremony this afternoon

The ceremony at Windsor began today when four Buglers, of The Band and Bugles of The Rifles, stood to attention

The ceremony at Windsor began today when four Buglers, of The Band and Bugles of The Rifles, stood to attention

Prince Philip smiles during the transfer of the Colonel-in-Chief of The Rifles at Windsor Castle in Berkshire this afternoon

Prince Philip smiles during the transfer of the Colonel-in-Chief of The Rifles at Windsor Castle in Berkshire this afternoon

The Buglers sounded The Rifles Regimental Call, followed by the 'No More Parades' call, during today's ceremony at WindsorPhilip smiles at Windsor today

The Buglers sounded The Rifles Regimental Call, followed by the ‘No More Parades’ call, during today’s ceremony at Windsor

The Duke of Edinburgh waves as he takes part in the transfer of the Colonel-in-Chief of The Rifles at Windsor Castle today

The Duke of Edinburgh waves as he takes part in the transfer of the Colonel-in-Chief of The Rifles at Windsor Castle today

WO2 (Senior Bugler Major) Simon Topp, 41, from Winchester, added: ‘In 2007 I was among the frontline buglers who took part in Mass Sounding Retreat to signify the duke’s taking up of the post, so it feels very special to be here today as he steps down. It’s a wonderful place to perform, very special.’

He said the calls chosen were ones that were used regularly during the Rifles working day.

The Rifles were formed in February 2007, following the merger of four celebrated infantry Regiments – The Devonshire and Dorset Light Infantry; The Light Infantry; The Royal Gloucestershire, Berkshire and Wiltshire Light Infantry; and The Royal Green Jackets.

When Prince Philip said what he shouldn't: Some of the Duke's most famous quotes 

Prince Philip has become known over the years for his unashamedly non-PC comments.

The Duke has realised his own capacity for making gaffes, and even has a word for it, 'Dontopedalogy'.

Here are some of his most legendary gaffes:

  • 'If you stay here much longer you will all be be slitty-eyed' – speaking to youngsters in China during a state visit in 1986
  • 'Do you still throw spears at each other?' – speaking to an Aboriginal cultural park owner in Australia in 2002
  • 'I would get arrested if I unzipped that dress!' – speaking to a policeman next to a woman in a red dress in Bromley, South London, in 2012
  • 'Who do you sponge off?' – speaking to a group of women at Chadwell Heath Community Centre in East London in 2015
  • 'Just take the f****** picture' – during a photocall for the Battle of Britain anniversary in 2015
  • 'The Philippines must be half-empty – you're all here running the NHS' – speaking to a Filipino nurse at the opening of the Luton and Dunstable Hospital in 2013

Forged during the campaigns of Iraq and Afghanistan, they are now the largest infantry regiment in the British Army. Their motto is: ‘Swift and Bold.’

The Rifles celebrate their Regimental Day on July 22 each year, which commemorates the Battle of Salamanca during the Peninsula War, in 1812, at which all four forming Regiments of The Rifles fought together and were victorious against the army of Napoleon.

Currently The Rifles has battalions (including Reserve units) deployed on operations in Afghanistan, the Middle East, Estonia, Cyprus and in support of the UK’s Covid-19 response, with other battalions preparing to deploy on operations in the coming months.

The Duke of Edinburgh’s most recent engagement as Colonel-in Chief of the Regiment was in June 2019, when His Royal Highness received the outgoing and incoming Colonel Commandant of The Rifles, General Sir Nicholas Carter and General Sir Patrick Sanders.

The Duke – who was also pictured after attending Princess Beatrice’s wedding last Friday – looked in good health and smiled for photographers before standing ram-rod straight and listening to what was said.

Royal expert Phil Dampier, who wrote a 2012 book on Philip, tweeted today: ‘After health problems last winter, Prince Philip seems back on top form. Onward to 100!’  He added: ‘Great to see the Iron Duke in rude health.’

Immediately afterwards at Highgrove, the arrival of Camilla was marked by four Buglers of The Band and Bugles of The Rifles sounding The Rifles Assembly. 

The Duchess was addressed by The Rifles’ Colonel Commandant, General Sir Patrick Sanders, who welcomed her as the new Colonel-in-Chief.

The Buglers then sounded The Rifles Regimental Call and The Advance, following which Camilla met the Buglers and a small party from 4th Battalion The Rifles, before retiring for an audience with General Sanders.

Camilla, who was wearing a Rifles brooch to mark the occasion, wore a bespoke bottle-green dress with black trim, modelled on the Rifles’ uniform.

The buttons of the dress have bugles on them and are the same buttons as worn on the soldiers’ tunics. 

July 22 is celebrated each year by The Rifles as their Regimental Day, which commemorates the Battle of Salamanca during the Peninsula War in 1812, at which all four forming regiments of The Rifles fought together and were victorious against the army of Napoleon.

The duchess has been Royal Colonel of 4th Battalion The Rifles since 2007 and will continue to hold the position.

She supported the battalion during the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts, writing to next of kin, sending letters to the injured, and meeting families – as well as the traditional medals parades. 

The Duchess of Cornwall smiles as she becomes Colonel-in-Chief for the Rifles at Highgrove House this afternoon

The Duchess of Cornwall smiles as she becomes Colonel-in-Chief for the Rifles at Highgrove House this afternoon

Camilla at Highgrove House in Gloucestershire this afternoon    Camilla smiles as she becomes Colonel-in-Chief for the Rifles at Highgrove House in Gloucestershire this afternoon

Camilla smiles as she becomes Colonel-in-Chief for the Rifles at Highgrove House in Gloucestershire this afternoon

The Duchess of Cornwall at Highgrove House, during a ceremony for the transfer of the Colonel-in-Chief this afternoon

The Duchess of Cornwall at Highgrove House, during a ceremony for the transfer of the Colonel-in-Chief this afternoon

Duchess of Cornwall attends Highgrove handover ceremony

The Duchess of Cornwall at Highgrove House, during a ceremony for the transfer of the Colonel-in-Chief of the Rifles today

The Duchess of Cornwall at Highgrove House, during a ceremony for the transfer of the Colonel-in-Chief of the Rifles today

The Duchess of Cornwall at Highgrove House today, in the second ceremony of the day for the Colonel-in-Chief transfer

The Duchess of Cornwall at Highgrove House today, in the second ceremony of the day for the Colonel-in-Chief transfer

Most recently, Camilla visited New Normandy Barracks in Aldershot in May last year to present service medals and meet members of the battalion and their families.

The duchess also has personal links to military organisations connected to her father, Major Bruce Shand, who was awarded two Military Crosses.

Two battalions of The Rifles today form part of the celebrated 7th Infantry Brigade, otherwise known as the Desert Rats, with whom Major Shand served, and the duchess is patron of The Desert Rats Association.

Speaking before the ceremony, General Sanders said: ‘We feel it’s a bittersweet day because we’re enormously proud of our association with the Duke of Edinburgh who has been the most amazing Colonel-in-Chief and we’ve really flourished under his tenure.

‘But it’s also really special to have the Duchess of Cornwall coming in because she has a long association with The Rifles.

‘She has been absolutely inspiring and the support that she’s given and the way that she sustained that through some quite difficult and bloody tours.’

Philip was recently pictured with the Queen at Windsor to mark his 99th birthday on June 10, and at Princess Beatrice’s wedding last Friday.  

JULY 17, 2020: The Duke of Edinburgh with the Queen after Princess Beatrice and Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi's wedding, standing socially distanced outside The Royal Chapel of All Saints at Royal Lodge in Windsor last Friday

JULY 17, 2020: The Duke of Edinburgh with the Queen after Princess Beatrice and Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi’s wedding, standing socially distanced outside The Royal Chapel of All Saints at Royal Lodge in Windsor last Friday

JUNE 6, 2020: The Queen and Prince Philip pose in the quadrangle of Windsor Castle to mark Philip's 99th birthday on June 10

JUNE 6, 2020: The Queen and Prince Philip pose in the quadrangle of Windsor Castle to mark Philip’s 99th birthday on June 10

MAY 18, 2019: The Duke of Edinburgh shares a joke with the Duke of Sussex as they leave following the wedding of Lady Gabriella Windsor and Thomas Kingston at St George's Chapel in Windsor Castle last year

MAY 18, 2019: The Duke of Edinburgh shares a joke with the Duke of Sussex as they leave following the wedding of Lady Gabriella Windsor and Thomas Kingston at St George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle last year

DECEMBER 24, 2019: Prince Philip leaves King Edward VII's Hospital in London on Christmas Eve last year after having treatment relating to a "pre-existing condition". His stay was described as a "precautionary measure" by Buckingham Palace. Philip left hospital after four nights and travelled to Sandringham to spend Christmas with the Queen

DECEMBER 24, 2019: Prince Philip leaves King Edward VII’s Hospital in London on Christmas Eve last year after having treatment relating to a ‘pre-existing condition’. His stay was described as a ‘precautionary measure’ by Buckingham Palace. Philip left hospital after four nights and travelled to Sandringham to spend Christmas with the Queen 

MAY 11, 2019: Philip takes his seat in the royal box with the Queen for the Royal Windsor Horse Show's pageant event last year

MAY 11, 2019: Philip takes his seat in the royal box with the Queen for the Royal Windsor Horse Show’s pageant event last year

MAY 9, 2019: The Duke of Edinburgh is seen driving a carriage at the Royal Windsor Horse Show in Berkshire last year

MAY 9, 2019: The Duke of Edinburgh is seen driving a carriage at the Royal Windsor Horse Show in Berkshire last year

MAY 7, 2019: The duke makes a rare appearance at a royal engagement, joining the Queen and broadcaster Sir David Attenborough at a luncheon for Order of Merit members at Windsor Castle

MAY 7, 2019: The duke makes a rare appearance at a royal engagement, joining the Queen and broadcaster Sir David Attenborough at a luncheon for Order of Merit members at Windsor Castle

He was last seen at a big event when he was a guest at Lady Gabriella Windsor’s wedding in May 2019. The ceremony this afternoon is Philip’s first engagement in more than a year.

In June 2019, he held an audience when he received General Sir Nicholas Carter who was relinquishing his appointment as Colonel Commandant of The Rifles.

On August 2, 2017, Philip carried out his final official engagement as he retired from public duties. Camilla was appointed Royal Colonel of 4th Battalion The Rifles in 2007 and will continue to hold this position.

Philip’s links to The Rifles stretches back to 1953 when he was appointed Colonel-in-Chief of The Wiltshire Regiment (Duke of Edinburgh’s).

He has served in the position for successive regiments which now make up The Rifles since, and has been Colonel-in-Chief of The Rifles since its formation in 2007.

Camilla was appointed Royal Colonel of 4th Battalion The Rifles in 2007. 

What has Prince Philip been up to over the past 18 months? Duke's recent appearances revealed as he carries out a rare engagement at Windsor Castle

The Duke of Edinburgh retired nearly three years ago after decades of royal service. Philip, 99, has kept himself busy, holding audiences, attending royal weddings and meeting new additions to the family.

He survived a car crash early in 2019, emerging unscathed when his vehicle flipped over after colliding with another carrying two women and a baby.

The duke has been staying at Windsor Castle with the Queen for the past 18 weeks in HMS Bubble – the nickname given to the couple’s reduced household of devoted staff during lockdown.

As Philip briefly steps out of retirement to carry out a rare official public engagement this afternoon, here is a look at what he has been up to over the past year and a half:

2019

  • January 17 – The duke is involved in a car crash when the Land Rover Freelander he is driving overturns after hitting another vehicle carrying two women and a baby near the Sandringham estate.
  • January 19- Photographs emerge of Philip driving a Land Rover without his seat belt on at Sandringham just two days after the crash.
  • January 27 – It emerges that the duke has written to passenger Emma Fairweather wishing her a ‘speedy recovery from a very distressing experience’.
  • February 9 – Buckingham Palace announces that Philip has voluntarily surrendered his driving licence ‘after careful consideration’.
  • February 14 – The Crown Prosecution Service confirms that the duke will face no further action in relation to the accident.
  • April 19 – Philip becomes the third oldest royal in British history, overtaking Princess Alice, Countess of Athlone, who was 97 years and 10 months when she died in 1981.
  • May 7 – The duke makes a rare appearance at a royal engagement, joining the Queen and broadcaster Sir David Attenborough at a luncheon for Order of Merit members at Windsor Castle.
  • May 8 – Philip is pictured with his new great-grandson, Archie Mountbatten-Windsor, son of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex.
  • May 9 – The duke is seen driving a carriage at the Royal Windsor Horse Show.
  • May 11 – Philip takes his seat in the royal box with the Queen and the Duke of Sussex for the horse show’s pageant event.
  • May 16 – Philip receives Martin Palmer, secretary general, Alliance of Religions and Conservation, at Windsor Castle.
  • May 18 – The duke looks in fine form as he attends Lady Gabriella Windsor’s wedding in St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle.
  • June 10 – Philip turns 98.
  • June 21 – The duke holds an audience with General Sir Nicholas Carter, who is relinquishing his appointment as Colonel Commandant of The Rifles.
  • November 20 – The Queen and Philip reach their 72nd wedding anniversary, spending the day separately, with the monarch in London and the duke at Sandringham. On the same day, the Duke of York steps down from royal duties amid the Epstein scandal.
  • December 20- The duke is admitted to King Edward VII’s Hospital in central London for treatment relating to a ‘pre-existing condition’. His stay is described as a ‘precautionary measure’ by Buckingham Palace.
  • December 24 – Philip leaves hospital after four nights and travels to Sandringham to spend Christmas with the Queen.

2020

  • March 19 – The duke travels from Sandringham to Windsor Castle to stay with the Queen ahead of the nation going into lockdown during the coronavirus pandemic.
  • April 20 – In his first major statement since his retirement, Philip praises key workers including refuse and postal staff who have been keeping essential services running.
  • June 10 2020 – The duke turns 99 and is photographed with the Queen to celebrate the occasion.
  • July 17 – The duke attends his granddaughter Princess Beatrice’s secret lockdown wedding.
  • July 22 – In his first official engagement in more than a year, Philip is to take part in a ceremony at Windsor to hand over his role of Colonel-in-Chief of The Rifles to the Duchess of Cornwall, who will be at Highgrove.

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