Queen says Prince Philip’s death has left ‘a huge void’

Duke of Edinburgh’s family say his death was ‘peaceful and gentle’ as they prepare for funeral on Saturday

The Queen has described the death of the Duke of Edinburgh as leaving “a huge void” in her life, Prince Andrew has revealed, saying it had brought home to him the loss suffered by so many during the coronavirus pandemic.

The Duke of York said the Queen had “described his passing as a miracle”, thought to refer to the fact Prince Philip died peacefully at home with her and not alone in hospital under Covid regulations.

The Countess of Wessex, who was attending a Windsor church service alongside Andrew, told a congregation member: “It was right for him [Prince Philip]. It was so gentle. It was just like somebody took him by the hand and off he went. Very, very peaceful, and that’s all you want for somebody, isn’t it? I think it’s so much easier for the person that goes than for people that are left behind.”

Princess Anne later issued a statement paying tribute: “My father has been my teacher, my supporter and my critic, but it is his example of a life well lived and service freely given that I most wanted to emulate. His ability to treat every person as an individual in their own right with their own skills comes through all the organisations with which he was involved.”

The Princess Royal added: “I would like to emphasise how much the family appreciate the messages and memories of so many people whose lives he also touched. We will miss him – but he leaves a legacy which can inspire us all.”

Philip, whose death was announced on Friday, is to lie at rest in the private chapel at Windsor Castle before his royal ceremonial funeral at St George’s Chapel, within the castle grounds, on Saturday.

The Duke of Sussex is due to fly in from California, though the Duchess of Sussex, who is pregnant, has been advised by her physicians not to fly. It was reported on Sunday that Prince Harry had landed in the UK and had been seen at Heathrow. It is understood that Harry plans to follow quarantine procedure upon arrival.

It will be Harry’s first meeting with other royals since the Sussexes’ explosive interview with TV chatshow host Oprah Winfrey, during which they suggested a member of the royal family had made racist remarks about the colour of the skin of their son before his birth.

William and Harry are expected to join other senior royals in walking behind Philip’s coffin as it is borne to St George’s Chapel on a modified Land Rover during a short procession within the castle grounds.

It will be the first time the brothers have been seen together since their frosty meeting at the Commonwealth Day service at Westminster Abbey in March 2020, the Sussexes’ final public engagement as working royals.

The funeral, and shared grief over Philip, was an “ideal opportunity” to mend rifts within the royal family, the former prime minister Sir John Major said on Sunday.

“The friction that we are told has arisen is a friction better ended as speedily as possible, and a shared emotion, a shared grief, at the present time because of the death of their father, their grandfather, I think is an ideal opportunity,” Major told the BBC’s Andrew Marr.

Prince Andrew, speaking as private prayers were held at the Royal Chapel of All Saints at Royal Lodge, Windsor, gave a first glimpse into the Queen’s deep personal sorrow. “The Queen, as you would expect, is an incredibly stoic person. She described his passing as a miracle and she’s contemplating, I think, is the way I would put it. She described it as having left a huge void in her life,” Andrew said.

He added it was a “terrible loss”, describing Philip as “almost the grandfather of the nation”. His father’s death had “brought it home to me, not just our loss, but actually the loss that everybody else has felt, for so many people who have died and lost loved ones during the pandemic”, he said.

Andrew, who stepped down from royal duties in November 2019 amid controversy over his friendship with the disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein, added: “And so we are all in the same boat – slightly different circumstances, because he didn’t die from Covid, but we’re all feeling a great sense of loss.”

The Earl of Wessex, who also attended the church service, said: “However much one tries to prepare oneself for something like this, it’s still a dreadful shock.” The Queen was not at the service and is understood to have attended a mass privately in Windsor Castle on Sunday.

The royal family has thanked the public for the many tributes and messages of condolences.

With Covid restrictions dictating a maximum attendance of 30, it will be a historic royal funeral. It is likely that the Queen will restrict the number of mourners mainly to the children and grandchildren of the royal couple and their spouses. Philip’s private secretary, Bdr Archie Miller-Bakewell, will also attend.

Boris Johnson indicated that he had relinquished his place to allow an additional relative to attend.


Caroline Davies

The GuardianTramp

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