Jewish leaders pay tribute to Prince Phillip on his retirement


(JTA) — Jewish leaders in Great Britain paid tribute to Prince Philip, the husband of Queen Elizabeth II, who announced that he will retire from public engagements after August.

Buckingham Palace announced Thursday that the 95-year-old Phillip, the Duke of Edinburgh, had the “full support of the Queen” in stepping back after some 70 years of hosting charity dinners, attending state functions, presenting trophies and honoring foreign dignitaries.

“Prince Philip has given long and tireless public service to our country for over 60 years,” Jonathan Arkush, president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, told the Jewish Chronicle. “I had the honor of conducting him on a tour of Hertsmere Jewish Primary School at its opening in 2000 when I was the chair of governors. He was a wonderful guest, engaging beautifully with the children and giving an outstanding witty speech. It was a memorable occasion which those present will always recall with pleasure.”

Simon Johnson, the chief executive of the Jewish Leadership Council, told the Chronicle: “His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh has been selfless and dedicated in his public service. His commitment to the well-being of the Jewish community, and all of the peoples of our country, has been outstanding. We wish him a healthy and contented retirement.”

Karen Pollock, chief executive of the Holocaust Educational Trust, thanked Phillip for “shining a spotlight” on Holocaust remembrance and education. His mother, Princess Alice, who risked her life in Nazi-occupied Athens to save the lives of Jews, is buried at the Mount of Olives cemetery in Jerusalem.

In 2015, Elizabeth and Phillip met with survivors and liberators in a visit to the former Nazi concentration camp Bergen-Belsen in northern Germany .

“I will never forget the mutual affection, humor and respect shared between [Phillip] with survivors and liberators in 2015 when he and the Queen visited Bergen-Belsen,” Pollock said. “We wish him a happy and well-earned retirement.”

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