LONDON: Prince Philip, the longest serving royal consort in British history who was a constant presence at Queen Elizabeth II’s side for decades, died on Friday aged 99, Buckingham Palace has announced.

The death of the Duke of Edinburgh is a profound loss for the 94-year-old monarch, who once described him as her “strength and stay all these years”.

Queen Elizabeth announced his passing “with deep sorrow” after he died peacefully in the morning at Windsor Castle, west of London, the palace said in a statement.

“The Royal Family join with people around the world in mourning his loss,” the statement said.

Tributes pour in from around the world

The outspoken former navy commander devoted much of his life as the queen’s husband to charity work — but was notorious for numerous gaffes, some of them causing offence.

He was admitted to hospital on February 16, and went home after a month during which he was treated for a pre-existing heart condition and an infection.

Announcing his death, BBC television played the national anthem over a picture of Philip in his prime, dressed in military uniform.

Flags were lowered to half-mast on royal and government buildings and a notice announcing his death pinned to the gates of Buckingham Palace.

“We give thanks, as a nation and a kingdom, for the extraordinary life and work of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh,” Prime Minister Boris Johnson said outside 10 Downing Street.

Johnson said Philip had “earned the affection of generations” at home, in the Commonwealth and across the world after first serving in the Royal Navy and then over nearly eight decades beside the queen.

Tributes poured in from political and faith leaders in Britain, and from the United States, Europe and Commonwealth countries including Australia, India and New Zealand.

Condolences were also expressed by leaders in Ireland, where in 2011 the queen and Philip paid the first royal state visit for a century following generations of enmity with Britain.

Prior to this year’s crisis over relations with the queen’s grandson Prince Harry and his wife Meghan, the monarchy had to weather the 1997 death in a car crash of Harry’s mother Princess Diana.

Tony Blair, who was prime minister then, lauded Philip “as a man of foresight, determination and courage” who was ahead of his time in the cause of environmental protection.

Chris Green, a 57-year-old local government officer, said outside Buckingham Palace: “I came here when the Queen Mother (in 2002) and Diana died so I came here for a quiet thought and to pay my respects.

“With his age and his recent health problems it hasn’t come as a massive shock, but it is one of those moments we will look back on and say it was a significant event,” he said.

Philip retired from public duties in 2017 at the age of 96 and died just before his 100th birthday in June — a milestone that for Britons is typically marked with a congratulatory message from the queen, who is now Britain’s longest-serving monarch.

Published in Dawn, April 10th, 2021

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