Prince Philip & the Queen represent sacrifice, duty and most of all, respect
EVEN in the depths of grief, her first concern was for her people.
Just hours after losing her beloved husband, the Queen urged us all to stay at home and remember him, mindful of the pandemic still claiming so many lives.
The monarch was said to be “desperately anxious” that crowds might gather to lay flowers and keenly aware that Prince Philip would have hated any fuss.
But yesterday, thousands respectfully ignored the Queen’s wishes and flocked to Windsor Castle and Buckingham Palace to honour her extraordinary consort.
A year of Covid loss and grieving made them acutely aware of the widowed monarch’s heartache.
And they NEEDED to show her how deeply they cared, to repay her own compassion.
Just 12 months ago, at the start of the pandemic, the Queen delivered a message of hope and fortitude.
She talked of the “painful sense of separation” felt by all who’d lost loved ones, but assured us we would face the challenge and return to brighter days.
“We will be with our friends again; we will be with our families again; we will meet again,” she said.
But now the Queen has lost the partner who helped her meet the challenges of monarchy, and is preparing to say farewell at a royal funeral like no other.
And, despite her Covid concerns, she must have been deeply touched by the outpouring of love for Prince Philip.
Dr Qusai Arsiwala, 37, was among those laying tributes at Windsor Castle with his wife and two daughters. ”Prince Philip and the Queen represent sacrifice, duty and, most of all, a level of respect,” he said.
“We came because it’s important for our children to understand this man gave a huge amount to the public.” Maria Stoner, 27, also took her son Liam, six, to pay their respects. “I hope the Queen can feel the love rushing through those thick walls,” she said. “Prince Philip was a national hero but he was foremost her husband. She must be heartbroken.”
The crowds gathering outside royal palaces did their best to observe social distancing. Many wore masks as they dabbed their eyes, prayed and even sang hymns.
But, to discourage lingering, their flowers, cards, Union flags and balloons were taken inside by staff to be viewed by the family later.
An online book of condolence set up by Buckingham Palace was flooded with messages. A selection will be shown to the Queen and many will enter the royal archives.
Other touching tributes were posted on the Church of England’s condolence site.
One said: “To be missed, you must have been loved. Take heart in the knowledge that Prince Philip made a difference in the world we live in.”
And another read: “Your inspiration, spirit, humour, humility and compassion will live on. Thank you for all you’ve done for your country, monarchy and democracy.”
As the Duke of Edinburgh’s coffin lay in Her Majesty’s private chapel at Windsor, preparations got under way for his pared-down funeral next Saturday.
But the former naval officer and was honoured with a solemn 41-round Death Gun Salute which echoed around the world. From noon, gun batteries in London,
Edinburgh, Cardiff, Belfast and Gibraltar fired at one-minute intervals, with warship HMS Diamond also taking part off Portsmouth and frigate HMS Montrose firing in the Gulf.
Similar salutes marked the deaths of Queen Victoria in 1901 and Winston Churchill in 1965.
In London, the King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery used the six First World War field guns fired for Philip’s wedding to the Queen in 1947 and at her Coronation in 1953.
Chief of the Defence Staff, General Sir Nick Carter, said: “His Royal Highness
has been a great friend, inspiration and role model for the Armed Forces and he will be sorely missed.
“He served among us in the Second World War and remained devoted to the Royal Navy and the Armed Forces as a whole. He leaves us with a legacy of indomitable spirit, steadfastness and an unshakeable sense of duty.”
Cannons were also fired in Australia and across the Commonwealth as world leaders paid tribute.
US President Joe Biden called Prince Philip “one heck of a guy”, and said: “His legacy will live on not only through his family, but in all the charitable endeavours he shaped.” Australia’s
PM Scott Morrison said he “embodied a generation we will never see again” and “encouraged over 775,000 young Australians to explore their leadership potential” in the Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme.
New Zealand’s premier Jacinda Ardern ordered flags to be flown at half mast on public buildings and said a national memorial service will be held after the Duke’s funeral.
Greek President Katerina Sakellaropoulou shared a charming photo of the Corfu-born Prince in national costume and said he “served his country with devotion for many decades”. In a telegram to the Queen,
Russia’s Vladimir Putin said: “He rightfully enjoyed respect among the British and international prestige.”
And the German President, FrankWalter Steinmeier, recalled Philip’s sharp-witted humour and charm.
He added: “We Germans mourn a winning personality who made an important contribution to the reconciliation of our nations after the horrors of the Second World War.
“As a member of the Royal Navy, Prince Philip fought for the liberation of Europe from Nazi terror. His contribution to democracy and peace will remain in our memories.”