This year Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, officially retired at the ripe old age of 96. After 64 years of service and with 22,219 solo engagements under his belt, the Duke may find himself in a state of retirement shock. His wife is still working, and adult children and grandchildren have well and truly flown the nest, so what lies ahead for the longest-serving royal consort in British history?
He retires in an era where retirement is no longer seen as the final days of one’s life, but instead a new chapter of fun and exploration. Our research shows that many think their lives will improve once they stop working – around two in five (39%) think they will have a better social life and 24% think they will have a better standard of living. Similar proportions of those who have already retired report the same.60 So is life set to get even better for HRH?
At 96, he’s seen lots of changes over his lifetime. When he was born in June 1921, the life expectancy for men in the UK was only 56,61 the state pension and the welfare state were still decades away, and ‘retirement’ as we know it did not exist – people typically only lived a year or two after stopping work. The world he retires into is a very different one. Life expectancy for men has risen to 79 years. This has had a huge impact on pension policy, with the state pension age due to rise to 66 in the next three years, and responsibility for pension planning falling to individuals, rather than employers or the state. Many people approaching retirement find they are not in a position to live comfortably on their savings. Millennials, those born between about 1980 and 1995, are particularly hard-pressed – with many fearing they might never retire.62 Many people go through a phase of semi-retirement before giving up work completely, the Duke included.
So what can a man who has seen nearly a century of change expect of his retirement today?
For many, retirement is an opportunity to spend more time with close family and friends. Around a quarter (26%) think their relationship with their spouse or partner will improve in retirement, with 21% thinking they will get along better with their children.63 However, with the Queen showing no sign of hanging up her robe just yet, Prince Philip may have to focus his attention on other ambitions.
Pre-retirees tend to have many different aspirations for retirement. Holidays and travel generally top the list. Though considering the Duke has accompanied his wife on many of her 217 foreign trips, and travelled the world during his naval service, this may not be a priority.
Home improvements (30%), taking more exercise (27%), or learning a new skill/hobby (26%) are also common aspirations.64 Though considering Buckingham Palace is set for a renovation, this is perhaps not on the top of his agenda either.
Charity work (24%) is also a popular aspiration, and as a patron, president or member of more than 780 charities and organisations he is no stranger to charity, so philanthropic pursuits are still likely to feature in Philip’s life.
Retirement can be a time to focus on one’s health. With more time to spend on healthy living, retirees are more likely than pre-retirees to rate their health as good for their age (40% of retirees rate their health as good for their age, compared to just 31% of pre-retirees). With some recent concerns about Prince Philip’s health, he may be feeling apprehensive about the impact this will have on his ability to enjoy retirement to the full. Common concerns about retirement include poor health impacting their mobility (37%), ability to take care of themselves (36%), their comfort (35%) and mental wellbeing (31%).65
Indeed, retirees are doing more than pre-retirees to reduce the risk of poor health in the future. Around three-quarters eat a healthy diet (76%) or read, do puzzles and generally keep their brain active (75%) compared to 62% and 42% of pre-retirees respectively.
Whatever lies in store for the Prince, he should be financially comfortable throughout his retirement. The challenge for Britain is that, for many who are considering giving up work, this is definitely not the case. Our research consistently shows that many people are not adequately saving, and the state pension is unlikely to match what the Queen’s husband might receive.
Since marrying a member of the royal family isn’t a solution available to the vast majority of us, we need to look at other solutions. In order to have a retirement fit for a prince, you need to prepare – start saving early and save as much as you can. You can also prepare for old age mentally – those who are positive about ageing live, on average, 7.5 years longer than those who are negative. Something for us all to think about.