From the Tower of London on the banks of the Thames, the castles of Edinburgh or Belfast, in the British enclave of Gibraltar, on the ships of the Royal Navy, where he served during World War II, the sound of cannons has sounded at 12:00 p.m. This salvo, the first in a series of 41 (one per minute), pays homage to the man who had become the patriarch of the British royal family, after being born Prince of Greece in Corfu and having spent a childhood tossed around the world. Europe.
Two months away from celebrating his 100th birthday, the Duke of Edinburgh passed away “peacefully” at Windsor Castle, west London, on Friday morning. The Queen, who will turn 95 on April 21, has expressed her “deep sadness” to lose the one who was her husband for more than 70 years and the father of her four children (Charles, Anne, Andrew and Edward).
Known for not having his tongue in his pocket, Prince Philip was noted for his provocative remarks sometimes tinged with racism or sexism. But the British also remember his tireless dedication to a monarchy that he helped to modernize and humanize, and his presence, withdrawn but flawless, alongside the sovereign.
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“He represented stability but also fun, a sense of humor, which we sometimes give the impression of having lost,” Heather Bridge, 65, told AFP near the Tower of London. “He had that lovely British sense of fun,” she added, saying sorry for the Queen: “It’s a devastating loss for her.”
From Friday evening, the bells of Westminster Abbey, where his marriage was celebrated in 1947, rang 99 times, once a minute, in homage to the 99-year-old prince. Minutes of silence are observed before Premier League football matches.
No state funeral
Buckingham Palace has not announced details of the organization of his funeral. However, we know that in accordance with his wishes for simplicity, and because of the pandemic which has hit the United Kingdom hard, it will not be a state funeral. His remains will rest at Windsor Castle before a funeral at St George’s Chapel.
Prince Philip has participated in more than 22,000 official public engagements since his wife’s accession to the throne in 1952. The monarch, who will be 95 years old on April 21, must now face alone the crises that rock the British royal family, such as recent criticism of her grandson Harry and Meghan of “The Firm”, the monarchy’s nickname, accused of racism and lack of support. The question remains whether the couple, who have distanced themselves from the royal family and now live in California, will attend the funeral.
The portrait of Philip, alone or accompanied by his wife, appears in the headlines on Saturday with the dates marking his century of life: 1921-2021. “We all cry with you, Ma’am”, assures the Sun. The prince was “the most loyal servant” in the country, according to the conservative daily The daily telegraph, while the tabloid Daily Express praised his “indomitable” character.
On Saturday, the royal family’s Twitter account shared several photos of the Queen with her husband on the occasion of significant moments in their lives. As in 1997, for their 50th wedding anniversary, when the one he nicknamed “Lilibeth” had confided: “He has been quite simply my strength and my support all these years”.
Their children shared their memories in a pre-recorded program broadcast by the BBC. His daughter Anne described a father who was “always there”: “If you had any problems you could always go to him knowing that he would listen and try to help you”. Princes Andrew and Edward visited their mother Elizabeth II at Windsor Castle on Saturday. “The Queen has been fantastic,” the Countess of Wessex, Sophie, wife of Prince Edward, told reporters as they left the castle.
To avoid gatherings that would violate current health rules, the public has been urged not to come en masse to the royal residences but to sign a book of condolences online. Some, however, went to Windsor Castle or Buckingham Palace, the Queen’s official residence in London, to drop flowers and words of support.
Matt Smith, who played young Prince Philip on Netflix’s “The Crown”, joined in the tributes. “Thank you for your service, old man, it won’t be the same without you,” reacted the actor, hailing his “style”.