This morning we learned that Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh and venerable consort to Queen Elizabeth II, had decided to retire. Honestly, we can’t blame him. The man is 95-years-old, and has had one hell of a career in service, first as a naval officer and then as a figurehead, advisor, and royal ambassador for a vast array of causes. If you take a close look at his schedule, he hasn’t had a real day off in more than 70 years. So when he steps away from official duties this fall, as this morning’s announcement made clear, he’ll have more than earned his peace and quiet.
As far as we’re concerned, this news is interesting for a few reasons. For one thing, it signals the first major generational shift in the British royal family. The Queen, still going strong at 91, will continue with her full schedule. But presumably Philip’s duties will be made up by Princes Charles, William and Harry — and, in the case of the latter two, their photogenic wives and girlfriends. The announcement, after a madcap private meeting of the entire royal household in the middle of the night, also proved to be foreshadowing for what happens when Britain’s nonagenarian head of state finally calls it quits herself. (For more on that, stop what you’re doing and read this incredible piece in The Guardian about what happens after Queen Elizabeth’s death.)
But more importantly, what we’ve realized this morning is that, in his own quiet way, Prince Philip was a genuine style icon. The man could wear clothes. You probably picture him — if you picture him — in full naval uniform, draped in medals and tassels and maybe even a sword. But check him out in his more casual (that term is relative) moments. He’s rocking perfectly tailored Savile Row suits, fat Windsor-knotted (of course) ties, tortoiseshell sunglasses, and generous wide-lapelled overcoats. He is, in short, the embodiment of classic British style. Luckily, the good people at The Telegraph have put together a retrospective of some of his most enduring looks. It’s worth a spin through. And take some notes.