Britain’s Prince Philip, the world’s greatest plaque unveiler, is calling it quits


The tassel-ended cords lie still. Champagne bottles limply dangle from ropes, unpropelled towards the hulls of ships. Velvet curtains remain stubbornly shut. For Prince Philip, consort of Queen Elizabeth II of England and the self-described “world’s most experienced plaque unveiler,” is ceasing public duties at the age of 95, the royal family announced today.

Prince Philip, who holds the title of Duke of Edinburgh and a few other honors*, was the guest of honor yesterday at Lord’s Cricket Ground in London, where he cracked a joke about his longstanding experience uncovering engraved squares of masonry:

In the UK, the Queen remains a popular figure 65 years into her reign, and many applaud Philip’s loyal support over their 70-year marriage: Seven decades of hand-shaking, medal-pinning, and the sometimes-flamboyant exhibition of inscriptions.

The couple’s regal duties have occasionally been hampered by Philip’s tendency to offend. Many of his gaffes betray the aloofness of a wealthy, unelected royal harboring opinions that harken back to the days of empire.

But as we bid farewell to Philip as a public figure, perhaps it’s best to remember the plaques. Herewith, a selection of the prince’s most revealing moments:

Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip of Great Britain take a tour of Festival Park in Jamestown, Va., Oct. 16, 1957. In May 2007, the queen is returning to Virginia as the "birthplace of America" turns 400. Organizers also  trying to make sure that the cultures that converged there _ English, American Indian and African _ are being properly recognized.
Jamestown, Virginia, Oct. 1957. (AP Photo)
Hobart Gaywood, center, of the National Parks Service, shows a plaque describing the Bicentennial Bell, a gift of the Government of Great Britain to the United States, to Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip in Philadelphia on Tuesday, July 6, 1976. The Queen was here to present the bell and visited various points of interest in the area.
Philadelphia, July 1976. (AP Photo)
Sam Wanamaker, left, and Robert Corder, coordinators of International Shakespeare Week, applaud as Prince Philip unveils a timber pile during a ground-breaking ceremony for the Globe Theatre, London, July 16, 1987.
London, July 1987. (AP Photo/Gerald Penny)
Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, unveils the plaque for the $450 million dollars-worthy chemical plant of the British firm Imperial Chemical Industries (ICI) in eastern Karachi Thursday, Oct. 9, 1997.
Karachi, Oct. 1997. (AP Photo/Saeed Ahmed)
Britain's Prince Philip, right, the Duke of Edinburgh, and Arsenal chairman Peter Hill-Wood unveil a plaque at the official opening of the club's new Emirates Stadium in north London Thursday Oct. 26, 2006.
London, Oct. 2006. (AP Photo/Odd Andersen)
epa03202771 Britain's Queen Elizabeth II (R) and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh (2-R) unveil a plaque during their visit to Salisbury Cathedral, in Salisbury, Devon, Britain, 01 May 2012, as part of the queen's Diamond Jubilee tour.
Salisbury, Devon, May 2012. (EPA/Jonathan Brady)
Britain's Queen Elizabeth speaks with Prince Philip after unveiling a plaque during their visit to the new headquarters of the Co-operative group in Manchester, northern England November 14, 2013.
Manchester, Nov. 2013. (Reuters/Phil Noble)
Britain's Prince Philip unveils a plaque to commemorate his visit to the Margaret Pyke Centre in London May 21, 2014.
London, May 2014. (Reuters/Paul Grover)
Britain's Prince Philip, the husband of Queen Elizabeth II, unveils a plaque at the end of his visit to Richmond Adult Community College in Richmond, south west London, Monday, June 8, 2015.
London, June 2015. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
Prince Philip The Duke of Edinburgh an Honorary Life Member of The Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) visits Lord's Cricket Ground and opened the new Warner Stand.
London, May 2017. (AP Photo/Star Max 2)

* His full title is: His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, Earl of Merioneth, Baron Greenwich, Royal Knight of the Most Noble Order of the Garter, Extra Knight of the Most Ancient and Most Noble Order of the Thistle, Member of the Order of Merit, Grand Master and First and Principal Knight Grand Cross of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, Knight of the Order of Australia, Additional Member of the Order of New Zealand, Extra Companion of the Queen’s Service Order, Royal Chief of the Order of Logohu, Extraordinary Companion of the Order of Canada, Extraordinary Commander of the Order of Military Merit, Canadian Forces Decoration, Lord of Her Majesty’s Most Honourable Privy Council, Privy Councillor of the Queen’s Privy Council for Canada, Personal Aide-de-Camp to Her Majesty, Lord High Admiral of the United Kingdom.

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