Prince Philip makes rare statement to thank teachers and school staff ahead of Christmas holidays

By Heather Cichowski, with files from Zach Harper

Prince Philip made a rare statement thanking teachers and school staff for their perseverance and dedication during the coronavirus pandemic.

The message was shared on the Royal Family's Instagram account on Dec. 18 to coincide with the start of the Christmas holidays for students in the United Kingdom.

Although the Duke of Edinburgh is retired, he remains Patron of the Chartered College of Teaching, and wanted to use this opportunity to show his support for teachers and educators who have carried on during the battle with COVID-19.

"The Duke of Edinburgh, Patron of the Chartered College of Teaching, has sent the following message of thanks to teachers and school staff, at the start of the Christmas holidays," the post was captioned.

"I commend all teachers and school staff for your professional and resolute commitment throughout the past year to teaching our children and young people in the most challenging conditions," Philip said in the statement.

The 99-year-old continued, "As Patron of the Chartered College of Teaching, I wish to thank you all for your selfless dedication and send you my best wishes for a well-deserved break over Christmas and the New Year."

Since the Duke of Edinburgh officially retired from public duties in August 2017, he has rarely made public appearances or statements – even before COVID-19. However, Philip released a statement earlier this year to praise health care and front-line workers for their response to COVID-19.

The Duke of Edinburgh listens to buglers during the transfer of the Colonel-in-Chief of The Rifles at Windsor Castle on July 22, 2020 in Windsor. Photo: © Adrian Dennis - WPA Pool/Getty Images

"As we approach World Immunisation Week, I 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," he said on April 20.

The father of four's message continued, "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."

Prince Philip has spent much of the past year isolating with the Queen at Windsor Castle. He made a rare appearance at the royal residence in July for a socially distanced ceremony with Duchess Camilla in which he transferred his role of Colonel-in-Chief of The Rifles to the Duchess of Cornwall.

MORE: The Queen and Prince Philip to spend Christmas at Windsor Castle

Philip was also seen in the wedding photos for the nuptials of Princess Beatrice and Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi on July 17. The couple married in a private ceremony at All Saints Chapel in Great Windsor Park.

Prior to that, a new portrait of Philip and Her Majesty was released on June 10 to mark his 99th birthday. The royals were photographed at Windsor Castle on June 1.

The Queen and Prince Philip at Windsor on Christmas Day, 1987, which was the last time they spent the holiday there. Photo: © Julian Parker/UK Press via Getty Images

For the 2020 holidays, the Palace reported that Her Majesty and the Duke of Edinburgh would forgo the Royal Family's traditional Christmas celebrations at Sandringham and instead spend Christmas at Windsor Castle.

"Having considered all the appropriate advice, The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh have decided that this year they will spend Christmas quietly in Windsor," Buckingham Palace said in a statement.

This will be the first time the monarch and her husband have celebrated Christmas at Windsor since 1987.

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