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Prince Philip turns 97 in characteristic no-fuss style

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The no-nonsense former naval officer has rarely celebrated his birthday.

London

BRITAIN'S royal patriarch Prince Philip, turns 97 on Sunday, his first birthday since retiring after a lifetime of public service. Never one for a fuss - least of all over himself - Queen Elizabeth II's husband has no plans for celebrations as he moves a step nearer to 100.

"He will be spending it privately," a Buckingham Palace spokeswoman told AFP, without saying where. The Duke of Edinburgh was absent as planned from his wife's official birthday celebrations on Saturday, when other senior royals gathered to watch the Trooping of the Colour military parade in London.

He has kept a low profile since conducting his final solo public engagement in August, the last of 22,219 attended since the queen ascended to the throne in 1952. However, he did attend the wedding of his grandson Prince Harry and Meghan Markle at Windsor Castle on May 19, despite undergoing a hip replacement on April 4.

The no-nonsense former naval officer has rarely celebrated his birthday and, in his working years, often used to turn out for engagements as normal. At the wedding of Harry and Meghan, now the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, the prince arrived by car with the queen, waving to the crowds at Windsor Castle. Wearing a morning suit, he got out of the car with no apparent trouble, despite recent hip surgery.

He walked hands clasped behind his back, exchanging pleasantries with Harry and his brother Prince William as he took his seat in St George's Chapel. He was pictured keeping a poker face during firebrand US pastor Michael Curry's near-14 minute sermon on the power of love - no mean feat as other royals looked visibly bemused at the preacher's theatrical style and off-script free-styling. Prince Philip was the patron, president or member of more than 780 organisations. He carried out 637 visits abroad on his own and gave almost 5,500 speeches. AFP

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