Palace announce death of Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh

HRH Prince Phillip The Duke of Edinburgh, at the National Concert Hall in Dublin, where he jointly presented 91 Gaisce Gold Awards to 91 young adults. 26/4/2006. Photo Photocall Ireland

Buckingham Palace has announced the death of the Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Philip:

“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 announcements will made in due course.

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

President Michael D Higgins said in tribute: “I have learnt with great sadness of the death of HRH Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.

“On behalf of the people of Ireland, I wish to convey my condolences to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, her children, her extended family and the people of the United Kingdom.

“For over sixty years, and as husband to Britain’s longest serving monarch, Prince Philip served the British people with an unfailing commitment and devotion to duty. In the course of his long service he frequently brought an air of informality to otherwise formal occasions. His distinctive presence and unique sense of humour put participants at ease and always engaged those who encountered him.

“Prince Philip was a steadfast support to Queen Elizabeth II. He accompanied the Queen on her many visits to Northern Ireland and also on her historic State Visit to Ireland in 2011. I recall with a special appreciation how welcome he made Sabina and I feel in 2014, when I was making the first State Visit by an Irish Head of State to the United Kingdom in 2014. My hope is that these visits in 2011 and 2014, which he shared, will continue to be symbols of what we share as neighbours in friendship, peace and a sustainable future.

“Prince Philip an active supporter of many charities and worthwhile causes, was far-seeing in being an early advocate for protecting the environment. Likewise the Duke of Edinburgh Awards provided for many generations of young people and those of diverse backgrounds a very effective focus for citizen engagement. I was very pleased when his scheme, the Duke of Edinburgh Award, and our own Gaisce, the President’s Award, were able to co-operate in the sharing and recognition of awards in Northern Ireland and elsewhere.

“Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “It was with great sadness that a short time ago I received word from Buckingham Palace that His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh has passed away at the age of 99.

“Prince Philip earned the affection of generations here in the United Kingdom, across the Commonwealth and around the world.

“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 despatches for bravery and in the invasion of Sicily, where he saved his ship by his quick thinking and 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 happiness of our national life.

“He was an environmentalist, and a champion of the natural world long before it was fashionable.

“With his Duke of Edinburgh awards scheme he shaped and inspired the lives of countless young people and at literally tens of thousands of events he fostered their hopes and encouraged their ambitions.

“We remember the Duke for all of this and above all for his steadfast support for Her Majesty The Queen.

“Not just as her consort, by her side every day of her reign, but as her husband, her “strength and stay”, of more than 70 years.

“And it is to Her Majesty, and her family, that our nation’s thoughts must turn today.

“Because they have lost not just a much-loved and highly respected public figure, but a devoted husband and a proud and loving father, grandfather and, in recent years, great-grandfather.

“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 shall ever know” and I am 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, for the extraordinary life and work of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.”

Philip, 99, was the longest-serving consort in British history.

Despite his life-long service as a royal consort, he was never formally given the title once held by Queen Victoria’s husband, Prince Albert.

This is because he had absolutely no interest in it.

He much preferred to be Head of the Royal Family, taking the lead behind closed doors as father  to the Prince of Wales, the Princess Royal, the Duke of York and the Earl of Wessex.

He was also in charge of family barbecues when the royals holidayed at Balmoral and took pride in his culinary skills.

HRH Prince Phillip The Duke of Edinburgh, at the National Concert Hall in Dublin, shakes hands with President Mary McAleese after they jointly presented 91 Gaisce Gold Awards to 91 young adults. 26/4/2006. Photo Photocall Ireland

He was born in Corfu in 1921 as Prince of Greece and Denmark

He died was just two months short of his hundredth birthday in June.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson paid tribute to the Duke of Edinburgh in Downing Street and said “he 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 duke and the Queen were married for more than 70 years and Philip dedicated decades of his life to royal duty, serving the nation at the monarch’s side.

He officially retired from public engagements in the summer of 2017.

Philip had returned to Windsor Castle on 16 March to be reunited with the Queen after spending a month in hospital – his longest ever stay.

He initially received care for an infection but then underwent heart surgery for a pre-existing condition.

The duke was driven away from King Edward VII’s Hospital in central London, having been pushed in a wheelchair to the waiting car.

He spent much of the Covid-19 crisis staying with the Queen at Windsor in HMS Bubble – the nickname given to the couple’s reduced household of devoted staff during lockdown.

His support was unwavering as he stood by her side through each decade of her reign.

Always one step behind Elizabeth, the duke let the monarch take centre stage, but accompanied her throughout the triumphs and trials of her role as head of state.

HRH Prince Phillip The Duke of Edinburgh, at the National Concert Hall in Dublin, where he jointly presented 91 Gaisce Gold Awards to 91 young adults. 26/4/2006. Photo Photocall Ireland

He carried out thousands of engagements in the UK and around the world during his lifetime – from entertaining visiting presidents and hosting charity receptions to holding private dinners for military organisations.

He often self-deprecatingly referred to himself as the ‘world’s most experienced plaque-unveiler’ but until his retirement had the highest work rate of the Royal Family.

At 90 he stepped down as president or patron of more than a dozen organisations – but was still involved with nearly 800 charities or bodies ahead of his retirement.

He was particularly interested in scientific and technological research, industry, the conservation of the environment and the encouragement of sport.

He set up his Duke of Edinburgh youth achievement awards programme in 1956 and it became one of the best-known self-development and adventure schemes for 14 to 24-year-olds.

Millions have signed up to work towards their Bronze, Silver and Gold Awards and the scheme has been praised for challenging young people and broadening their horizons.

Aside from perhaps that he was not overly interested in what legacy he would leave behind.

Carriage driving was his great passion and he loved to go through the countryside at high speed, whip in hand, in a horse-drawn, wheeled carriage.

HRH Prince Phillip The Duke of Edinburgh, at the National Concert Hall in Dublin, where with President Mary McAleese they jointly presented 91 Gaisce Gold Awards to 91 young adults. 26/4/2006. Photo Photocall Ireland

“I am getting old, my reactions are getting slower, and my memory is unreliable, but I have never lost the sheer pleasure of driving a team through the British countryside,” he explained in a book he wrote about the sport.

He shunned sympathy for illness and kept his birthdays as low-key as possible.

Following distinguished naval service during the Second World War he was on track to head the Royal Navy as First Sea Lord.

But his naval career came to an end in 1951 due to the failing health of his father-in-law, George VI, and when his wife became Queen a year later.

After being told by aides to keep out of the Queen’s official duties he set about modernising Buckingham Palace.

He reorganised her Balmoral and Sandringham estates with ruthless efficiency.

He was also Ranger of Windsor Great Park and fundamental to the upkeep of the vast parkland, from designing gardens to introducing deer.

“I tried to find useful things to do,” he said about starting a footman training programme at the palace.

He always maintained close connections to the armed forces and their organisations and to his original crew and shipmates who remained devoted to him.

For Philip’s 90th birthday, the Queen bestowed upon him the title of Lord High Admiral, titular head of the Royal Navy.

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