How Prince Philip spent his retirement – painting, driving, and finally relaxing
He wrote: “I have the happiest memories of Wolfsgarten in the 1930s, when the house was always full of relatives and friends and conversations about every conceivable topic. It was a “golden age”, despite many memories of the First World War. I hope this collection of postcards and photographs gives an idea of the life of a happy and united family during these years. “
Shortly before his resignation, he went to Germany for the 80th birthday of his nephew Prince Ludwig von Baden. In a short speech he told him that he wished him all the best as long as he enjoyed life. We can therefore assume that the Duke himself actually enjoyed life until recently, despite many health problems. He hated fuss and attention focused on himself. The prospect of turning 100 in June did not appeal to him. He did not allow a national celebration, and the pandemic saved him from that. Most likely, he would have gone to church like he did when he was 80 and 90.
In the privacy of Sandringham, he enjoyed the freedom of horse-drawn carriage, a pastime he took up when he was unable to play polo due to arthritis in his wrists. Miles Hunt-Davis described this as his form of relaxation. The classes he attended required such intense concentration that all other thoughts were pushed aside. In old age he was no longer able to control the horses as well as he used to, but he still went out in all weathers and winds. Most recently, he sent the horses back from Norfolk to Windsor before his pre-Christmas stay at Edward VII in December 2019.
Driving gave him a sense of freedom. That had to stop – at least on public roads – after his serious accident in January 2019. His eyesight was affected by a deep sun over the Wash on the A149 near Sandringham. He overturned his Land Rover Freelander in an accident with another vehicle. He emerged more or less unscathed and later apologized to the injured drivers: “I was a little shaken after the incident, but I was very relieved that none of you were seriously injured. When a crowd was gathering, I was advised by a local police officer to return to Sandringham House. I have since learned that you suffered a broken arm. I am very sorry for this injury. I wish you a speedy recovery from a very stressful experience. “
He wasn’t always at Wood Farm. He was usually in Windsor during Easter meal. He stayed lively and happily snapped at a former private secretary who had lunch with the Queen in 2019 and expressed surprise that he was there: “I’m always here at this time.”
In November 2019, he and the Queen spent a weekend in Broadlands with Lady Mountbatten. He’s been enjoying Balmoral less recently, shortening his stay there and returning to Wood Farm in both 2019 and 2020. In 2020 the Queen went with him, and Prince Charles came over to see her from Sandringham House, an odd role reversal. Over the years, the Duke remained remarkably fit and agile for his age, even as his short-term memory began to fail him.
As soon as the lockdown was announced in March 2020, he joined the Queen in Windsor and they jokingly entered the so-called “HMS Bubble”. He kept in touch with his family through Zoom. Prince Harry revealed during his recent chat show interview with James Corden that when the Duke finished a call, he simply closed the laptop.