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Prince Philip steps out of retirement for rare engagement with Duchess of Cornwall - best photos

Camilla will take over as Colonel-in-Chief of The Rifles

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Danielle Stacey
Danielle StaceyOnline Royal CorrespondentLondon
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The Duke of Edinburgh made his first public appearance in over a year as he handed over the role of Colonel-in-Chief of The Rifles to the Duchess of Cornwall. Prince Philip, 99, took part in a ceremony at Windsor Castle, while Camilla, 73, was atHighgrove House in Gloucestershire.

During the Windsor ceremony, Philip was thanked for his 67 years of support for The Rifles, and their forming and antecedent regiments, by Assistant Colonel Commandant, Major General Tom Copinger-Symes.

READ: Why Prince Philip missed the Queen's birthday parade Trooping the Colour

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The Duke was in good spirits as he arrived at the ceremony at Windsor Castle. He looked smart in a navy suit and striped tie. 

MORE: How Prince Philip became the rock of the royal family and its ultimate poster boy

WATCH: Prince Philip over the years

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And immediately afterwards at Highgrove, Camilla was welcomed as the new Colonel-in-Chief by The Rifles' Colonel Commandant, General Sir Patrick Sanders.

The Duke of Edinburgh has been Colonel-in-Chief of The Rifles since its formation in 2007, but his connection stretches back further, as he has served as Colonel-in-Chief of successive Regiments which now make up The Rifles since 1953. The Duchess of Cornwall was appointed Royal Colonel of 4th Battalion The Rifles in 2007. 

MORE: Inside Prince Charles and Camilla's country home Highgrove House

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Speaking before the ceremony, General Sanders said: "We feel it's a bittersweet day because we're enormously proud of our association with the Duke of Edinburgh who has been the most amazing Colonel-in-Chief and we've really flourished under his tenure.

"But it's also really special to have the Duchess of Cornwall coming in because she has a long association with The Rifles.

"She has been absolutely inspiring and the support that she's given and the way that she sustained that through some quite difficult and bloody tours."

camilla outfit© Photo: PA

The second half of the ceremony continued at Prince Charles and Camilla's home Highgrove House in Gloucestershire, where the arrival of the Duchess of Cornwall was marked by four buglers of The Band and Bugles of The Rifles sounding The Rifles Assembly.

Camilla was then addressed by General Sanders, who welcomed the duchess as the new Colonel-in-Chief.

RELATED: Duchess Camilla sent the sweetest message with her outfit at rare engagement with Prince Philip

camilla colonel© Photo: PA

The Duchess of Cornwall has been Royal Colonel of 4th Battalion The Rifles since 2007, and will continue to hold the position. In this time, Camilla has hosted audiences with incoming and outgoing Commanding Officers and carried out regular engagements in support of the Battalion.

The Duchess supported the Battalion during the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts, writing to next of kin, sending letters to the injured, and meeting families – as well as the traditional medals parades.

Most recently, Camilla visited New Normandy Barracks in May 2019 to present  service medals and meet members of the Battalion and their families. 

MORE: Revealed: why Camilla was the only royal bride without a tiara for Prince Charles wedding

camilla brooch© Photo: PA

Camilla, who was wearing a Rifles brooch to mark the occasion, wore a bespoke bottle-green dress with black trim, modelled on the Rifles' uniform.

The buttons of the dress have bugles on them and are the same buttons as worn on the soldiers' tunics.

queen philip lady gabriella© Photo: Getty Images

The Duke retired from royal duties in August 2017, aged 96, having completed 22,219 solo engagements since 1952. He has only been seen in public a handful of times, including at the weddings of his grandchildren, Prince Harry and Princess Eugenie in 2018.

His last public appearance was at Lady Gabriella Windsor and Thomas Kingston's wedding in Windsor in May 2019 (above). 

MORE: 10 of the sweetest photos of royal fathers of the bride: from Kate Middleton's dad Michael to Prince Philip

philip beatrice wedding© Benjamin Wheeler

Prince Philip was most recently pictured with the Queen at Princess Beatrice and Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi's private nuptials last Friday. The proud grandparents looked on as their granddaughter emerged beaming from the Royal Chapel of All Saints at Royal Lodge in Windsor, following the small service.

On 10 June, Buckingham Palace also released a photo of the Duke with Her Majesty at Windsor Castle to mark his 99th birthday.

MORE: Why Princess Beatrice's wedding was a very bittersweet occasion for the Queen

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