Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott has defended plans to award a knighthood to Queen Elizabeth II's husband Prince Philip following a storm of criticism over the appointment.

Abbott, who reinstated the Australian honours tradition last year (14), announced the news on the country's national day on Monday (26Jan15), but he came under fire from both fellow politicians and members of the public who voiced opposition to the Duke of Edinburgh's new title.

The leader has now waded into the row in a bid to silence his critics, insisting Prince Philip is deserving of the honour.

Speaking at an official event in Canberra on Monday, Abbott told reporters, "Prince Philip has been a great servant of Australia. I'm just really pleased that in his 90s, towards the end of a life of service and duty, we in this country are able to properly acknowledge what he's done for us."

When asked whether the prince is a "captain's pick", he retorted, "Look, I'm not going to dispute your characterisation. I think we've had a good thrash of this one. Are there any other subjects that you would like to ask me about?"

The 93-year-old royal is expected to receive the knighthood at a London ceremony later this year (15).