Sad news in The Times. Our thoughts are with the Queen and the extended royal family.
His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh, the man who has been the Queen’s steadfast support for more than seven decades, has died.
The duke, who returned to Windsor Castle three weeks ago after a month in hospital, died this morning two months before his hundredth birthday.
Buckingham Palace said in a statement: “It is with deep sorrow that Her Majesty the Queen announces the death of her beloved husband, His Royal Highness the Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.
“His Royal Highness passed away peacefully this morning at Windsor Castle.
“Further announcements will be made in due course.
“The royal family join with people around the world in mourning his loss.”
Royal advisers will meet tomorrow to finalise details of the funeral service, which will take place at St George’s Chapel, Windsor, rather than at Westminster Abbey.
Boris Johnson hailed the “extraordinary life and work” of the duke, adding that he had helped the royal family remain “indisputably vital”.
Speaking on the steps of Downing Street, the prime minister said that the duke will be remembered “above all” for his support of the Queen as her “strength and stay of more than 70 years”.
“We remember the Duke for all of this and above all for his steadfast support for Her Majesty the Queen.
“Not just as her consort, by her side every day of her reign, but as her husband, her strength and stay of more than 70 years.
“And it is to Her Majesty, and her family, that our nation’s thoughts must turn today.
“Because they have lost not just a much-loved and highly respected public figure, but a devoted husband and a proud and loving father, grandfather and, in recent years, great-grandfather.”
He said the Duke had been one of the last people to have served in World War II, noting that he was mentioned in despatches for bravery at Cape Matapan.
“Like the expert carriage driver that he was he helped to steer the royal family and the monarchy so that it remains an institution indisputably vital to the balance and happiness of our national life.
“He was an environmentalist, and a champion of the natural world long before it was fashionable.
“With his Duke of Edinburgh awards scheme he shaped and inspired the lives of countless young people and at literally tens of thousands of events he fostered their hopes and encouraged their ambitions.”
Johnson said that the nation today mourns with the Queen.
“We offer our condolences to her and to all her family and we give thanks, as a nation and a Kingdom, for the extraordinary life and work of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh,” he said
Sir Keir Starmer, the Labour leader, added: “The United Kingdom has lost an extraordinary public servant in Prince Philip.
“Prince Philip dedicated his life to our country – from a distinguished career in the Royal Navy during the Second World War to his decades of service as the Duke of Edinburgh.
“However, he will be remembered most of all for his extraordinary commitment and devotion to the Queen.”
Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, said that the duke had an “enormous legacy” of public service.
Prince Philip, who would have turned 100 on June 10, had been recovering from a heart operation, which took place at St Bartholomew’s Hospital in the City of London last month. He had been admitted to the private King Edward VII’s Hospital in Marylebone as a precaution after feeling unwell in February.
He was discharged from hospital on March 16, when he was said to be in “good spirits”. Since then the Queen has tried to spend as much time with him as she could.
In line with his own wishes, there will be no lying-in-state and no state funeral. Although funeral plans have been in place for years, they will have to be modified to reflect Covid-19 restrictions.
The duke, who never relished either personal attention or sentiment, always insisted he wanted a low-key ceremony rather than a full-blown state funeral. “He doesn’t see himself as important enough for that,” an aide once said. He will be the first sovereign’s consort for more than a century not to have had a lying in state.
The Queen Mother, the wife of George VI, in 2002, and her mother-in-law Queen Mary, the wife of George V, in 1953, lay in state in Westminster Hall in the Palace of Westminster. Queen Alexandra, the wife of Edward VII, lay in state in Westminster Abbey in 1925.
The original plan was for books of condolence to be opened at St James’s Palace, the Queen’s Gallery next to Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle, Holyroodhouse, Balmoral and Sandringham. It has not been confirmed whether these will go ahead.
The duke will be interred at St George’s Chapel after what is officially known as a royal ceremonial funeral.
His remains will be kept in the royal vault beneath the chapel until the Queen dies, when they will be buried together in the George VI Memorial Chapel within St George’s, on the north side of the quire.
As well as easily passing the record for a royal consort, Prince Philip was a man whose loyalty, determination, stoicism and good health made him an indispensable support for the Queen, who called him “my strength and stay”.
He continued working hard into his nineties, carrying out 300 engagements a year at an age when most men would have long since retired. It was not until August 2017, when he was 96, that he finally stepped down from official duties.
He had known the Queen longer than almost anyone alive. They met when she was 13 and he 18, and married eight years later in 1947. Since then, apart from a four-month overseas tour he undertook on Britannia in 1956, they have rarely been apart.
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