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Queen faces ‘void’ without her duke

- STEPHEN DRILL IN LONDON

PRINCE Harry returned to Britain for the first time since Megxit, while the Queen said Prince Philip’s passing would leave a “huge void” in her life.

Preparatio­ns were continuing last night for the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral, to be held at Windsor Castle on Saturday at 3pm local time (midnight AEST).

As Prince Harry bunkers down in a coronaviru­s-enforced isolation at his former home inside Kensington Palace, details of his grandfathe­r’s final moments have been revealed.

His passing was “so gentle”, his daughter-in-law, Sophie, Countess of Wessex, said following a church service at the Royal Chapel of All Saints in the grounds of Windsor Great Park.

“It was just like somebody took him by the hand and off he went,” she said.

The Queen attended a private mass in Windsor Castle as she started to come to terms with the loss of her husband of 73 years.

She described his death as leaving a “huge void” in her life, according to Prince Andrew.

The Queen’s family has rallied around her since the duke’s passing last week, with regular visits from Sophie, 56,

wife of her youngest son Prince Edward, 57, and Prince Andrew, 61, who live nearby.

Prince Harry, 36, slipped into Britain late on Sunday night local time, but was not photograph­ed at London’s Heathrow Airport.

“I saw him getting into an escorted car,” a witness told The Sun. Prince Harry travelled alone because Meghan, 39, expecting the couple’s second child within months, is too pregnant to fly.

He was greeted with snow in London on his first day back in the UK from sunny California, where he moved after stepping down from royal duties in March last year.

Prince Harry returns with some trepidatio­n following his sit-down interview with new neighbour Oprah Winfrey, in which he claimed Prince Charles stopped taking his calls and that the royal family was “racist”.

Prince Philip thought that Prince Harry and Meghan’s interview with Winfrey was “madness” and that “no good would come of it”.

The duke had also told friends that Prince Harry and Meghan’s American move was “not the right thing, either for the country, or for themselves.”

But Prince Philip, who died 62 days before 100th birthday, was philosophi­cal in the end.

“It’s his life. People have got to lead their lives as they think best,” he told friends, according to biographer Gyles Brandreth.

Australia will be represente­d by Commodore Guy Holthouse at the duke’s funeral, which will take place entirely within castle walls.

The ahead-of-his-time eco-Prince — who was among the first to highlight climate change in the 1950s — will be carried in an electric Land Rover, instead of a traditiona­l gun carriage.

There will be a procession from the State Entrance of Windsor Castle to St George’s Chapel.

The duke personally oversaw the arrangemen­ts for his funeral, codenamed Operation Forth Bridge, and had ordered a $1600 woollen coffin.

The modest touch was part of the fuss-free prince’s character.

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 ??  ?? Well-wishers add flowers to the tributes outside Buckingham Palace. Picture: AFP
Well-wishers add flowers to the tributes outside Buckingham Palace. Picture: AFP
 ??  ?? Philip and Harry together at an event in 2012.
Philip and Harry together at an event in 2012.

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