Buckingham Palace has announced the death of the Queen’s husband of 73 years
The Duke of Edinburgh, the Queen’s “strength and stay” for 73 years, has died aged 99.
A statement from Buckingham Palace on Friday 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 made in due course. The Royal Family join with people around the world in mourning his loss.”
He was the longest serving consort in British history, and was just months away from his 100th birthday in June.
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 under went heart surgery for a pre-existing condition.
An official notice of his death was posted on the railings of Buckingham Palace, as is traditional, but was being removed shortly afterwards, to avoid crowds gathering.
The coronavirus pandemic will have a major impact on the carefully laid plans for his funeral. With restrictions still in place amid the Covid-19 outbreak, the public elements of the final farewell will not be able to take place in their original form.
Prince Philip’s health had been slowly deteriorating for some time. He announced he was stepping down from royal engagements in May 2017, joking that he could no longer stand up. He made a final official public appearance later that year during a Royal Marines parade on the forecourt of Buckingham Palace.
Since then, he was rarely seen in public, spending most of his time on the Queen’s Sandringham estate in Norfolk, though moving to be with her at Windsor Castle during the lockdown periods throughout the Covid-19 pandemic and where the couple quietly celebrated their 73rd wedding anniversary in November 2020.
He also celebrated his 99th birthday in lockdown at Windsor Castle. 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.
The duke spent four nights at King Edward VII hospital in London before Christmas 2019 for observation and treatment in relation to a “pre-existing condition”.
Despite having hip surgery in April 2018, he attended the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle a month later and was seen sitting beside the Queen at a polo match at Windsor Great Park in June. He and the Queen missed Prince Louis of Cambridge’s christening in July 2018, but he was seen attending Crathie Kirk near Balmoral in August, and driving his Land Rover in the surrounding Scottish countryside in September.
Despite living quietly out of the public eye, he made headlines when involved in a car crash in January 2019. Two women needed hospital treatment after he was apparently dazzled by the low sun as he pulled out of a driveway on the Sandringham estate. A nine-month-old baby boy in the other vehicle was unhurt. The Crown Prosecution Service decided it was not in the public interest to prosecute the duke after he later voluntarily surrendered his driving licence.
Born on the island of Corfu, Prince Philip, who once described himself as “a discredited Balkan prince of no particular merit or distinction”, played a key role in the development of the modern monarchy in Britain.