'Show goes on' for monarchy when Philip steps back, Edward says

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The Duke of Edinburgh will not be "disappearing into the background" despite his decision to step down from public duties, according to his son the Earl of Wessex.

Philip, 95, will retire from royal engagements in the autumn after more than 65 years supporting the Queen in her role as head of state and attending events for his own charities and organisations.

Their youngest son Edward hinted other members of the Royal Family will step up in support of the monarch, and said the family support each other "constantly" in what is a "team effort", adding: "The show goes on."

Edward is the first family member to speak about Philip's retirement since it was announced and, speaking to Sky News, he said: "It was a surprise but not really a surprise.

"I mean, although having for many years said this is a job from which you can't retire, he's just proved that actually it might be possible to retire which is quite good for the rest of us.

"But having said that, I think that although he's said that he's probably going to step back, I don't believe he's going to stop for a minute, so there will still be lots of things that he'll be interested in and doing.

"But it's just re-set the pitch for everybody and there's no expectations now from everybody that he will turn up and do things, which I think is very sensible."

Asked if it had been a difficult decision, Edward said: "I'm sure it is.

"But at the end of the day you still have to do what's sensible and practical, and as we all know from my father he's extremely sensible and extremely practical.

"So he's taken that decision and we respect that. But as I said, we're not going to see him disappearing into the background."

Edward said: "It is always a team effort and that's what we do, and the show goes on.

"And if an actor retires from a show, guess what? The show goes on and everybody shuffles round and we all fill in the spaces and keep it all going, and that's what we all do.

"No, it doesn't require any massive re-organisational meeting. No, that's what we do.

"We support each other, constantly, whatever we do.

"That's been the case if anybody's ever fallen ill.

"We've done our best to try and fill that gap, and to keep the show going and we will continue to do that."

Referring to their continued support of the Queen, he said: "Of course, absolutely.

"Most important of all. That's what it's really all about."

Asked to sum up what his father's contribution to national life has been, Edward said It has been "years of staggering service", and he has always been "jolly" along the way.

He added: "The great thing about my father is that nobody's ever forgotten meeting him, so they've all got their stories.

"Wherever he's been, wherever in the world, people remember him.

"You can't really get a better accolade than that."

Asked what the Duke was going to do with his time now, Edward said: "I don't believe he's going to be putting his feet up completely and disappearing into the background ... He'll pick and choose what he wants to do and how he wants to do it and what's practical."

He added: "Hopefully he can do more of what he enjoys. I'm sure he probably will be doing a bit of carriage driving.

"And next week is The Windsor Horse Show and he'll be round enjoying it as much as he ever does."