The Sunday Mail (Queensland)

RIGHT ROYAL RENAISSANC­E

Queen ‘amazing’ as world mourns fallen husband

- STEPHEN DRILL IN LONDON

In his final moments, the Queen was by her husband’s side as he passed away peacefully at their private apartments at Windsor Castle. After 73 years of being the Queen’s steadfast supporter, this time the tables were turned.

The Queen’s tearful daughter-inlaw Sophie last night revealed the family’s heartbreak over the loss of Prince Philip and how Queen Elizabeth was coping.

In a rare statement, the Countess of Wessex stopped and spoke to reporters as she left Windsor Castle with husband Prince Edward, the Queen’s youngest son.

Asked how the family was coping, the Countess responded simply: “The Queen has been amazing.”

The Queen, 94, has now begun an official eight-day mourning period as the Commonweal­th acknowledg­es one of the world’s great statesmen. Operation Forth Bridge, the code name for Prince Philip’s funeral plans, was put into action following his death on Friday, but final details are yet to be announced.

A low-key funeral of as few as 30 mourners was expected to be held on Saturday, April 17, at St George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle.

It would be a ceremony which would have suited Prince Philip’s wishes for a “no-fuss” farewell.

It came as a 41-gun salute rang out across sites in the UK, including in the shadows of the iconic Tower Bridge in central London.

There were also salutes in Cardiff, Wales, Gibraltar, Edinburgh and on Royal Navy Ships, which fired 41 shots over 41 minutes.

Prince Philip’s passing will reshape the Royal Family and may fast-track plans for Prince

Charles to take on more prominent duties.

Royal insiders have revealed there was always a plan for Prince Charles to take a wider role.

It was expected that the death of her husband, at least in the short term, would reduce the Queen’s engagement­s. However the Queen did attend her first event of 2021 on March 31 to celebrate the centenary of the Royal Australian Air Force.

The maskless Queen said she was “delighted” to be out in public after a year in a COVID-19 bubble.

Prince Charles, 72, has been having a greater say in family affairs and, when restrictio­ns ease in Britain, there may be a review of his role.

Charles was the Duke’s only visitor at King Edward VII’s Hospital in London in February.

But all of his children saw Prince Philip in recent weeks.

Prince Charles travelled to be with the Queen after the death and Prince Andrew, 61, and Prince Edward, 57, visited again on Friday, local time.

Prince Charles praised his father’s achievemen­ts but added that he “didn’t suffer fools gladly” in a documentar­y that aired in Britain following his death.

“So perhaps it made one choose your words carefully,” he told the BBC. “He was very good at showing you how to do things and would instruct you in various things.”

Prince Charles added that his father’s work ethic was unparallel­ed.

“His energy was astonishin­g in supporting my mama, and doing it in such a long time,” he said.

“What he’s done amounts to an astonishin­g achievemen­t, I think.”

Princess Anne, 70, also paid tribute to her father in the prerecorde­d documentar­y.

“I will best remember him as always being there and a person you could bounce ideas off, but if you were having problems you could always go to him and know that he would listen and try to help,” she said.

Prince Edward described his father, who had some infamous gaffes, as a tactful diplomat.

“It was always a challengin­g role to take but he has done it with

the most extraordin­ary flair and an extraordin­ary tact and diplomacy,” he said.

“He has never ever tried to overshadow the Queen in any shape or form and I think he has always been there as that rock in the Queen’s life, and certainly within his family that was exactly the same.”

Prince Andrew, in a rare public statement since he was stripped of royal duties, spoke of his childhood.

“Like any family of the day, your parents went out to work during the day, but in the evening, just the same as any other family, we would get together, we would sit on the sofa as a group and he would read to us,” he said.

The Duke undertook 637 overseas tours, mainly with the Queen, and 22,219 solo engagement­s during his seven decades as royal consort – the longest in British history.

Police asked mourners to avoid laying flowers at Windsor Castle or Buckingham Palace because of coronaviru­s restrictio­ns, but a steady stream of visitors paid their respects.

Sanjeevani Seneviratn­e, of Stanwell, England, was among those who visited Windsor Castle.

“I love Prince Philip, I was really sad when I heard, he had a remarkable life,” she said.

Billboards across the UK, including at London’s Piccadilly Circus, replaced advertisem­ents with images of Prince Philip.

Radio stations changed their playlists, with a subdued selection of ballads on pop stations, while radio news bulletins carried only the story of Prince Philip’s death on Friday. Prince Philip was born in 1921 in Corfu, but was exiled when he was a child. His father, a gambler, wasted his royal titles and died penniless in Monte Carlo, where he was living with his mistress.

The Duke’s mother, Princess Alice of Battenberg, battled mental health issues and also spent time in a convent.

His four sisters married German royalty and they were unable to attend his wedding to then-Princess Elizabeth in 1947 following World War II.

Philip was a serving naval officer but had to give up his career at the age of 30 when Elizabeth became Queen following the sudden death of her father.

The Duke’s private secretary, an Australian named Michael Parker, revealed that the Duke had once told him his view of his own role.

“To never let (the Queen) down,” Philip told Mr Parker.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, said of Prince Philip: “I was always struck by his obvious joy at life.”

Prince Philip had spent most of his final years at Wood Farm, on the Queen’s Sandringha­m estate in the north of England.

He followed the rules and moved to Windsor Castle, where he isolated with the Queen because of the coronaviru­s pandemic.

The Duke was determined to go out with his boots on, refusing to return to hospital after he was finally released after 28 days on March 16.

“He just wanted to be back in his own bed. There is no way he would have wanted to die in hospital,” a source told the UK Telegraph.

 ??  ?? The Queen during a visit to Runnymede, Surrey, on March 31 to mark the centenary of the RAAF. Pictures: PA Wire, Getty, AFP
The Queen during a visit to Runnymede, Surrey, on March 31 to mark the centenary of the RAAF. Pictures: PA Wire, Getty, AFP
 ??  ?? Sophie, Countess of Wessex, said the Queen had been “amazing”. Picture: Sky News UK
Sophie, Countess of Wessex, said the Queen had been “amazing”. Picture: Sky News UK
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 ??  ?? Prince Philip practising his bicycle polo technique at Windsor Great Park; with the Queen (below); mourners outside Windsor Castle (right).
Prince Philip practising his bicycle polo technique at Windsor Great Park; with the Queen (below); mourners outside Windsor Castle (right).

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