The Queen’s consort Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, has passed away at the age of 99, news which shortly follows his return from a stay at King Edward VII’s Hospital in Marleybone, London.
A statement from Buckingham Palace said:
It is with deep sorrow that Her Majesty The Queen has announced the death of her beloved husband, His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. His Royal Highness passed away peacefully this morning at Windsor Castle. Further announcement will be made in due course.
The Duke’s passing comes less than four weeks after he was photographed walking out of London’s King Edward VII’s Hospital in London, and just two months before his 100th birthday. Prince Philip had been in hospital for a heart complaint and had undergone surgery during the month-long visit. It was reported during his stay that he was not being treated in relation to coronavirus.
It is with deep sorrow that Her Majesty The Queen has announced the death of her beloved husband, His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.
His Royal Highness passed away peacefully this morning at Windsor Castle. pic.twitter.com/XOIDQqlFPn
— The Royal Family (@RoyalFamily) April 9, 2021
Tributes have started to roll in for the Duke, including from UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson who said:
He was the longest-serving consort in history, one of the last surviving people in this country to have served in the Second World War. At Cape Matapan, where he was mentioned in dispatches for bravery, and in the invasion of Sicily where he saved his ship by his quick thinking. From that conflict, he took an ethic of service that he applied throughout the unprecedented changes of the post-war era.
Like the expert carriage driver that he was, he helped to steer the Royal Family and the monarchy so that it remains an institution indisputably vital to the balance and the happiness of our national life… Speaking on their golden wedding anniversary, Her Majesty said that our country owed her husband a greater debt than he would ever claim or we should ever know. I’m sure that estimate is correct.
So we mourn today with Her Majesty the Queen. We offer our condolences to her and to all her family and we give thanks as a nation and a kingdom to the extraordinary life and work of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.”
The Second World War veteran, who served with distinction as a Royal Navy officer in the Mediterranean and Pacific theatres, retired from his official duties only in 2017, well into his mid-nineties.
Born Prince Philippos of Greece and Denmark and a speaker of many languages including Danish, French, German, and Greek, the royal gave up his Continental European titles and adopted the surname Mountbatten, from his British maternal grandparents, ahead of his 73-year marriage to the then-Princess Elizabeth in 1947.
Just a few years later in 1952 Phillip’s father-in-law, King George VI, passed away at the young age of 56, causing his wife, 26, to ascend the throne.
Since then, the pair have become the longest-serving British monarch and consort in history — with Elizabeth, 94, now having to carry on without her partner seven decades, who she has previously described as “quite simply my strength and stay all these years”.
Known for his Laconic wit and a stoical if somewhat prickly attitude towards journalists — “media is a professional intruder, it wouldn’t work if it didn’t… so you can’t complain about it” he once told presenter Alan Titchmarsh — the Duke had a sense of humour which would be considered far from “woke” by the standards of some in the younger generations.
Media outlets long enjoyed compiling lists of his politically incorrect “gaffes” before his retirement from public life, including, for example, an occasion when he remarked to a British student who had gone trekking through Papua New Guinea: “So you managed not to get eaten, then?”
Perhaps his most lasting legacy will be his charitable work, however, with the Duke having served as Patron or President of over 800 charities during his years at the Queen’s side.
The best-known such enterprise is likely the Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme, which has bestowed said award on over four million young people who have completed various endeavours including “physical, skills-based, and community challenges”.