Prince Philip, 98, Releases Rare Public Message amid Coronavirus — His First Since Retirement

"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 royal said

Prince Philip
Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip. Photo: Alastair Grant - WPA Pool/Getty

Prince Philip has stepped out of retirement to thank everyone who’s working so hard to combat the coronavirus pandemic.

In a rare message released in support of World Immunization Week, which campaigns to raise awareness and increase rates of global immunization, the Duke of Edinburgh, 98, — who retired from public duties in August 2017 after 64 years of royal service — wrote that he “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.”

The royal great-grandfather — who’s currently isolating in Windsor Castle alongside wife Queen Elizabeth 93, — added, “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.”

This is the first time that the Duke of Edinburgh, who was hospitalized in December to undergo precautionary treatment for a pre-existing condition, has spoken publicly since relocating to Windsor Castle from the Queen’s Sandringham Estate on March 19.

Prince Charles, Prince William and Kate Middleton also traveled to their respective country homes to self-isolate in the days before Prime Minister Boris Johnson — who was recently treated for COVID-19 at the Intensive Care Unit of St. Thomas’ Hospital in London — issued a nationwide lockdown on March 23. This has now been extended to last until at least May 7.

Speaking in a joint video call interview with Kate Middleton, 38, on Friday, Prince William, 37, recently admitted that he’s intensely aware of just how vulnerable the older generation is to the effects of COVID-19 amid the outbreak — and that includes his grandparents.

Prince Philip
Prince Philip. GARETH FULLER/AFP via Getty

“I think very carefully about my grandparents who are, you know, at the age they’re at, and we’re doing everything we can to make sure that they’re, you know, isolated away and protected from this,” he told BBC Breakfast.

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“But it does worry me, you know, what’s going to happen to a lot of the vulnerable people and the high-risk people who are going to potentially have to isolate away for quite some time, and the impact that’s going to have on them and on families up and down the country having to do that.”

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