TRIBUTES have been paid in Hampshire to the Duke of Edinburgh following the announcement he is to retire from royal engagements after more than six decades in the public eye.

The Duke’s contribution to national life across Hampshire has been praised following his announcement that he will step down in the autumn.

Some the Duke’s most notable engagements in Hampshire include visiting Romsey Abbey in 2007 with the Queen for a special service to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the Hampshire Town receiving its Royal Charter.

Councillor Mark Cooper, a former mayor of Romsey, remembered the Duke as a “gentle soul who was always smiling”.

He said: “The Duke of Edinburgh and Her Majesty have always been a charming couple.

“The Duke was a consummate performer in his public speaking and at age 86, he had learnt his craft and was very much at the top of his game.”

Councillor Connie Hockley, the mayor of Fareham, added: “I want to thank him for everything he has done during his reign for charity and local organisations, and providing support during the Queen’s reign.”

Prince Philip also opened the Ordnance Survey Offices in Adanac Drive, Southampton, back in October 2011. He has a long-standing partnership with the firm through the Duke of Edinburgh awards.

Robert Andrews, from Ordnance Survey, said: “It was a real honour to see the Duke of Edinburgh to open the new headquarters.

“His knowledge and insight into mapping and its connection to society, business and government were amazing while still managing to provide a good level of humour in his presentation to staff.”

The Duke, also a keen sportsman, took to the waters to watch Ben Ainslie’s racing team practise for the America’s Cup in July last year in his capacity as Admiral of the Royal Yacht Squadron (RYS)

Martin Whitmarsh, CEO of Land Rover BAR, said: “The RYS is the most prestigious yacht club in the world and the support and advice we receive from their members means a great deal.

“We are delighted to have Prince Philip in his role as Admiral of the Royal Yacht Squadron visiting the team base and watching the racing in Portsmouth.”

The Queen’s public schedule will continue as normal but it is understood other members of the Royal Family will “step up” in support of the monarch.

The Duke had been considering stepping down for a number of months, however only made the announcement prior to his decision being finalised however Buckingham Palace stressed he may decide to attend certain events from time to time.

The Duke of Edinburgh is the patron, president or a member of more 800 organisations across the UK which he will continue to have an association with after his retirement.