Prince Philip, 99, has died ‘peacefully,’ Buckingham Palace says
April 9, 2021
Prince Philip, once described by the Queen as “my strength,” has died at the age of 99.
“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,” Buckingham Palace said in a statement Friday.
“His Royal Highness passed away peacefully this morning at Windsor Castle. The Royal Family join with people around the world in mourning his loss.”
The Duke of Edinburgh had been admitted to the private King Edward VII’s Hospital in central London on Feb. 16 after feeling unwell, although officials said it was not related to COVID-19. He remained in hospital for what was supposed to be a few days. On Feb. 23, Buckingham Palace announced that he was receiving “medical attention for an infection.” He stayed in hospital for treatment until March 16, when he returned to Windsor Castle.
Prince Philip was Queen’s ‘liege man of life and limb’ to the end
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Prince Philip “earned the affection of generations here in the United Kingdom, across the Commonwealth and around the world.
“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.”
Funeral arrangements remain unclear since Britain is under a near total lockdown and funerals have been limited to 30 people. Palace officials have said that Prince Philip didn’t want a state funeral and few public events had been arranged.
The original plan called for his coffin to remain at St. James’s Palace for seven days, during which the Royal family was to hold a vigil. His coffin was then to be placed on a gun carriage for a procession from the palace to Wellington Arch outside Buckingham Palace. The procession is unlikely to take place given the lockdown and it isn’t clear if the family will hold a vigil.
The Duke’s funeral is expected to take place at St. Georges chapel in Windsor Castle, where he has been living with the Queen throughout the pandemic. He will also be interred at the 600-year old chapel, which is the resting place of 10 former monarchs including Henry VIII and Charles I, as well as the Queen Mother. There will also likely be some kind of military honour given the Duke’s long involvement with several regiments.
Princess Anne spoke about her father in an interview with ITV: “Without him, life will be completely different,” she said. “But from society’s perspective, he was able to keep pace with the kind of technological changes that have such an impact… but above all… it’s not about the technology, it’s about the people.”
Born on the Greek island of Corfu, Prince Philip was the son of a Greek prince and a German princess. After a Greek anti-royalist coup, the family was rescued by Britain’s Royal Navy and the Prince went to live with relatives in England. He left school at the age of 18 and joined the Royal Navy at the outbreak of World War II. He served on several ships in the Indian Ocean and the Mediterranean and he was in Tokyo Bay when the Japanese surrendered in 1945.
Prince Philip began courting his distant cousin, Princess Elizabeth, in 1934 and they married in 1947 at Westminster Abby. After renouncing his Greek title, the Prince became a British citizen and was made the Duke of Edinburgh by King George VI. He continued his naval career after the marriage and the couple briefly lived in Malta where he was stationed. That ended in February 1952, when King George VI died and Princess Elizabeth became Queen.
As royal consort, Prince Philip had to find a new role for himself. He created a youth program in 1956 called the Duke of Edinburgh Awards and later got involved with the World Wildlife Fund, serving as the first U.K. president of the organization. Over the ensuing years, he became a patron of nearly 800 other organizations and became a stalwart of the Royal Family, engaging in more than 20,000 events as the longest-serving royal consort. In 1997, on the occasion of their golden wedding anniversary, the Queen described him as “someone who doesn’t take easily to compliments, but he has, quite simply, been my strength and stay all these years, and I and his whole family, in this and many other countries, owe him a debt greater than he would ever claim or we shall ever know.”
He stepped down from royal duties on his 96th birthday in June, 2017, and largely retreated to a private life often spent at the sprawling Sandringham estate.
The Duke had been remarkably healthy and had only a few health issues in recent years.
During the Queen’s diamond jubilee events in 2012, he suffered a bladder infection and he was hospitalized two years later for an abdomen operation. He was also treated for a blocked artery in 2011 and had hip replacement surgery in 2018. He spent a few days in hospital before Christmas in 2019 for what officials said was “observation and treatment in relation to a pre-existing condition.”
In 2019, he was involved in a car accident near Sandringham as he tried crossing a busy highway. His Land Rover Freelander flipped onto its side after colliding with an oncoming Kia. One woman in the other car was injured with a broken wrist.
Police later cautioned the Prince, who was photographed two days later driving without a seatbelt. No charges were laid but the Prince agreed to give up his drivers licence. The Prince also wrote to one of the women injured in the crash, apologizing for his actions and explaining that he’d been blinded by the sun and couldn’t see the oncoming traffic. “I am very contrite about the consequences,” he said in the short note.