After a rare public glimpse at his granddaughter’s surprise wedding, Prince Philip will make another – very brief – appearance in public this week for a socially distanced turnover of one of his ceremonial roles to his daughter-in-law, Duchess Camilla of Cornwall.
The 99-year-old Duke of Edinburgh, husband of Queen Elizabeth II for more than seven decades, will appear in the Quadrangle of Windsor Castle for five minutes on Wednesday for the ceremonial handover of his role as Colonel-in-Chief of The Rifles military regiment.
Camilla, the wife of the queen’s heir, Prince Charles the Prince of Wales, will also appear for five minutes outside Charles’ country home, Highgrove House, to play her part in the ceremony after Philip has left the Quadrangle about 85 miles away, according to Buckingham Palace’s surprise announcement.
The palace said Philip has been ceremonial head of The Rifles since its formation in 2007, but his connection stretches back to 1953 as he has served as colonel-in-chief of successive regiments which now make up The Rifles. Camilla was appointed Royal Colonel of the 4th Battalion of The Rifles in 2007.
The Rifles celebrate July 22 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 palace said.
Once the most hated woman in the kingdom (because of the role she played in the breakup of Charles’ marriage to the late Princess Diana in the 1990s), Camilla, 73, has gradually gained in public acceptance since she married Charles in 2005. Taking over one of her father-in-law’s ceremonial military roles further strengthens her position as future consort to a future king.
Like all of the royal family during the COVID-19 pandemic, Philip and Camilla have been self-isolating at separate royal residences. Philip is with the queen at Windsor Castle. Camilla with Charles at either their Scottish estate or their London residence at Clarence House.
Philip, who has been rarely seen in public since retiring in 2017, was pictured with the queen, 94, at the private family wedding of their granddaughter, Princess Beatrice of York, on Friday in the chapel near the York family home, Royal Lodge, on the castle estate.
Both nonagenarians looked well and very pleased as they posed – six feet apart – with Beatrice and her new husband, Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi, outside the chapel, according to pictures released by Buckingham Palace.
Prior to that, Philip was seen in a photo posing with the queen last month at the castle for his 99th birthday.
On Wednesday, the pool of photographers at the castle will see Philip for only five minutes. The ceremony will begin when four buglers of The Band and Bugles of The Rifles will sound The Rifles Assembly call upon the arrival of Prince Philip. The Assistant Colonel Commandant, Major General Tom Copinger-Symes, will offer the salute and thank the duke for 67 years of support and service to The Rifles, and their forming and antecedent regiments.
The buglers will then sound The Rifles Regimental Call, followed by the “No More Parades” call, to mark Philip’s final ceremony as colonel-in-chief.
A few minutes later, the ceremony will continue at Highgrove House, where the arrival of Camilla will be marked by four buglers of The Band and Bugles of The Rifles sounding The Rifles Assembly. She will be addressed by The Rifles’ Colonel Commandant, General Sir Patrick Sanders, who will welcome the duchess as the new colonel-in-chief.
To conclude, the buglers will sound The Rifles Regimental Call and The Advance, after which she will meet the buglers and a small party from 4th Battalion of The Rifles, before retiring for an audience with Sanders.
She will be wearing a Rifles brooch to mark the occasion, the palace said.
Philip has taken part in many of these sorts of handover ceremonies before and after his formal retirement, as his ceremonial and charity roles have been parceled out to other members of the royal family, including his children and grandchildren.
Since then he has been seen in public only for family ceremonies, such as Beatrice’s wedding, which had fewer than 30 guests under current government pandemic rules.
She is the sixth of his eight grandchildren to marry, although the others, such as Prince William, Prince Harry and her younger sister, Princess Eugenie, wed in more lavish public ceremonies.
Beatrice’s wedding had been postponed due to the pandemic, and was more low-key in part due to the scandal surrounding her father, Prince Andrew the Duke of York, and his relationship to the late convicted sex offender, Jeffrey Epstein.
He walked his daughter down the aisle but neither he nor her mother, his ex-wife Sarah, Duchess of York, were seen in the official pictures released by the palace.