April 20, 2020 / 10:40 AM / 2 months ago

UK's Prince Philip breaks retirement silence to thank those fighting COVID-19

LONDON (Reuters) - Prince Philip, the 98-year-old husband of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth, made a rare statement on Monday to thank those involved in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, has made few public appearances since he stepped down from official engagements in August 2017 and is currently staying with his wife at her Windsor Castle home during the outbreak of the virus.

“As we approach World Immunisation Week, I wanted to recognise the vital and urgent work being done by so many to tackle the pandemic; by those in the medical and scientific professions, at universities and research institutions, all united in working to protect us from Covid-19,” he said.

“On behalf of those of us who remain safe and at home, I also wanted to thank all key workers who ensure the infrastructure of our life continues; the staff and volunteers working in food production and distribution, those keeping postal and delivery services going, and those ensuring the rubbish continues to be collected.”

Philip is the latest member of the royal family to issue a message to the nation since the country was put into a virtual lockdown in a bid to curb the spread of the virus.

Earlier this month, the queen made only the fifth televised address of her record-breaking 68-year reign to tell Britons they would overcome the coronavirus outbreak if they stayed resolute, a message she repeated in an audio message at Easter.

The couple’s eldest son, 71-year-old heir Prince Charles who himself has recovered after suffering mild symptoms of COVID-19, has also thanked health staff for their work and courage.

FILE PHOTO: Britain's Prince Philip enters a car as he leaves the King Edward VII's Hospital in London, Britain December 24, 2019. REUTERS/Hannah McKay

“Such commitment of course has come at a price,” he said in a video message on Monday to mark Cardiff’s Principality Stadium being turned into a field hospital to help relieve pressure caused by the outbreak.

“As the days have gone by, we have become ever more painfully aware of those in our national health and public services who have made the ultimate sacrifice in caring for others, giving their lives in the service of their fellow men and women.”

Meanwhile Elizabeth celebrates her 94th birthday on Tuesday but the occasion will not be marked with gun salutes as is customary because she felt it would not be appropriate.

Reporting by Michael Holden; editing by Guy Faulconbridge

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