TRIBUTES are pouring in after the announcement of the death of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, aged 99, earlier today.
A statement from Buckingham Palace said: “It is with deep sorrow that Her Majesty The Queen announces 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 announcements will be made in due course. The Royal Family join with people around the world in mourning his loss.”
Flags on landmark buildings in Britain were being lowered to half-mast as a period of mourning was announced. Speaking from Downing Street, the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, said, “[Prince Philip] helped to steer the Royal Family and the monarchy so that it remains an institution indisputably vital to the balance and happiness of our national life.”
The Archbishop of Canterbury said: “I join with the rest of the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth in mourning the loss of His Royal Highness Prince Philip, The Duke of Edinburgh, and give thanks to God for his extraordinary life of dedicated service. Prince Philip continually demonstrated his unfailing support and unstinting loyalty to Her Majesty The Queen for 73 years.
“He consistently put the interests of others ahead of his own and, in so doing, provided an outstanding example of Christian service. During his naval career, in which he served with distinction in the Second World War, he won the respect of his peers as an outstanding officer.
“On the occasions when I met him, I was always struck by his obvious joy at life, his enquiring mind and his ability to communicate to people from every background and walk of life. He was a master at putting people at their ease and making them feel special.
“The legacy he leaves is enormous. The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, which he founded in 1956, has inspired generations of young people to help others and instilled in them a vision for citizenship and a desire to serve their communities. His work with countless charities and organisations reflected his wide-ranging, global interests in topics including wildlife, sport, design, engineering and inter-faith dialogue.
“In his powerful advocacy for conservation his was a prophetic voice for over half a century, as he brought people from around the world to a new concern and commitment to action for the future of our planet.
“As we recover and rebuild after the terrible trial of the coronavirus pandemic, we will need fortitude and a deep sense of commitment to serving others. Throughout his life Prince Philip displayed those qualities in abundance, and I pray that we can take inspiration from his example.
“I also join many people in giving thanks for the marriage of Her Majesty the Queen and Prince Philip, and for their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Theirs was a marriage grounded in friendship and mutual respect and sustained by shared faith in Christ.
“I pray that God will comfort Her Majesty and the rest of the Royal Family at this time. May His Royal Highness rest in peace and rise in glory.”
The Archbishop of Wales, the Most Revd John Davies, expressed his own sadness and extended his deep condolences and assurance of prayers to the Queen and other members of the Royal Family.
Prince Philip, he said, had been a “rock in the life of the Queen” and had lived a life rooted in service and duty both to her and to others. The Archbishop praised the Duke of Edinburgh Award’s scheme and also acknowledged the Duke’s keen interest in matters of theology.
“For his gifts and talents, for the benefits that his life brought to the lives of others, for his sense of duty and calling, and for his many evident and admirable qualities and attributes, we should give thanks and pray that he might be at peace, free from human frailty, and in new life with Christ,” he said.
“It is the Queen and the rest of their family who will feel most keenly and lament most profoundly the Duke’s passing. May they also be able to give thanks for all that he brought to others in so many ways and over so many years. I assure them all of my love and prayers and those of many in the Church in Wales.”
The Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Vincent Nichols, said: “At this moment of sadness and loss I pray for the repose of the soul of Prince Philip, Her Majesty the Queen’s faithful and loyal husband. I pray for the Queen and all of the Royal Family.
“How much we will miss Prince Philip’s presence and character, so full of life and vigour. He has been an example of steadfast loyalty and duty cheerfully given. May he rest in peace.”
Among Free Church tributes was a statement from the United Reformed Church, which concluded: “We have an opportunity to reflect and to give thanks, for a life of dedicated service to nation and Commonwealth. We pray for his family and closest friends, for those who will mourn and miss him most. And we draw hope from the faith into which he was baptised, declaring that Christ is risen.”