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41-gun salute marks death of Prince Philip

41-gun salute marks death of Prince Philip
Members of the Honourable Artillery Company fire during a 41-round gun salute for Prince Philip from the wharf at the Tower of London held at Midday on Saturday.
LONDON, Apr 10 (AP) | Publish Date: 4/10/2021 1:46:14 PM IST

Military teams across the U.K. and on ships at sea fired 41-gun salutes Saturday to mark the death of Prince Philip, honoring the former naval officer and husband of Queen Elizabeth II who they considered one of their own.

Batteries in London, Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast — the capitals of the four nations that make up the United Kingdom — as well as other cities around the U.K. and the Mediterranean outpost of Gibraltar fired the volleys at one-minute intervals beginning at mid-day. Ships including HMS Montrose, a frigate patrolling the Persian Gulf, offered their own salutes.

Philip, who was also known as the Duke of Edinburgh, died Friday at Windsor Castle, two months before his 100th birthday.

“The Duke of Edinburgh served among us during the Second World War, and he remained devoted to the Royal Navy and the Armed Forces as a whole,” Gen. Nick Carter, chief of the defense staff, said in a statement. “A life well-lived. His Royal Highness leaves us with a legacy of indomitable spirit, steadfastness and an unshakeable sense of duty.”

Members of the Commonwealth, a group of 54 countries headed by the monarch, were also invited to honor Philip. The Australian Defense Force began its salute at 5 p.m. local time outside Parliament House in Canberra, and New Zealand planned to offer its own tribute on Sunday.

Philip joined the Royal Navy as a cadet in 1939 and once had a promising military career. In 1941, he was honored for his service during the battle of Cape Matapan off the coast of Greece, when his control of searchlights aboard the HMS Valiant allowed the battleship to pinpoint enemy vessels in the dark. Philip rose to the rank of commander before he retired from active duty.

Two years after the war ended, Philip married Elizabeth at Westminster Abbey when she was 21 and he was 26. Philip’s naval career came to an abrupt end when King George VI died in 1952 and his wife became queen.

At the queen’s coronation in 1953, Philip swore to be his wife’s “liege man of life and limb” and settled into a life supporting the monarch. The couple had four children — Charles, the heir to the throne, Anne, Andrew and Edward.

Before he retired from official duties in 2017, the prince carried out more than 22,000 solo public engagements and supported over 780 organizations, including the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award for young people.

Members of the public continued to honor Philip’s life of service on Saturday, leaving flowers outside Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle despite appeals from authorities and the royal family to refrain from gathering because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

 “I think everyone would like to pay their respects,” Maureen Field, 67, said outside Windsor Castle. “Because of the virus, a lot of people have to stay away. He didn’t want a big funeral. He wanted a very private time with his family to say their goodbyes. So, we’ve all got to respect that.”

Mike Williams, 50, traveled from his home in Surrey, southwest of London, to Buckingham Palace to honor the prince.

“He’s a massive loss to the country and to the world, I think, so we wanted to come and pay respects,” Williams said. “I don’t know what it achieves, but it just felt like the right thing to do.”

Harry expected to fly in for funeral

The rift in the royal ranks after an explosive interview by Prince Harry and wife Meghan Markle is to be set aside as reports suggest that the Duke of Sussex is keen to fly to the UK despite coronavirus restrictions to attend grandfather Prince Philip’s funeral.

Harry was close to his grandfather and, according to media reports, he is keen to be by the side of his grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II, as she mourns the passing of her husband of 73 years.

Harry, who is now based in California, is unlikely to be joined by Meghan, who is heavily pregnant with their second baby.  

“He will, of course, be there, no matter how difficult relations are between the Sussexes and the family,” a source was quoted as saying in ‘The Daily Telegraph’.

The difficult relations are a reference to an Oprah Winfrey interview last month during which the couple had raised serious concerns of lack of support within the royal ranks before they stepped back as frontline royals last year.

Current coronavirus lockdown rules state that the majority of people attempting to travel to the UK must test negative for COVID-19 within 72 hours of their flight and then quarantine for 10 days on arrival. But there is an exemption for people attending the funeral of a close family member and the possibility of a five-day quarantine under the Test and Release system with a negative Covid result.

Meanwhile, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s website has been transformed into a memorial page to the Duke of Edinburgh. A short message on Archewell.Com, set against a dark background, reads: “In loving memory of His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh. 1921-2021. Thank you for your service... you will be greatly missed.” The details of the funeral, to be held at St George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle, are being finalised but it is expected to be a very scaled down event due to the lockdown.

The Queen, who is said to have been by the side of her husband in his final hours, is being comforted by her children – Prince Charles, Princess Anne, Prince Andrew and Prince Edward.

 “He has, quite simply, been my strength and stay all these years, and I, and his whole family, and this and many other countries, owe him a debt greater than he would ever claim, or we shall ever know,” reads a quote from her speech to mark their golden wedding anniversary in 1997, alongside a picture of the couple released on the official Buckingham Palace social media platforms.

 “At The Queen’s Coronation in 1953, The Duke of Edinburgh swore to be Her Majesty’s ‘liege man of life and limb’. The Duke was a devoted consort (companion to the Sovereign) for almost 70 years, from Her Majesty’s Accession in 1952 until his death,” adds a note with another set of images of the royal couple.

According to ‘The Daily Telegraph’, as the Duke of Edinburgh’s frail condition worsened overnight on Thursday, with insiders warning that he was “gravely ill”, any talk of rushing the 99-year-old back to hospital was dismissed by the Queen. She would have known her husband’s wishes after he returned from a lengthy stay in hospital only last month.

“He spent most of the four weeks he was in hospital trying to get home. They operated on his heart in a bid to give him a little longer, maybe with the 100th birthday in mind. But he didn’t really care about that. He just wanted to be back in his own bed. There is no way he would have wanted to die in hospital,” the newspaper quoted a source as saying.

Although Buckingham Palace declined to go into any “specifics” about the nature of Prince Philip’s passing, it is thought the Queen was at her husband’s bedside at his private chambers in Windsor Castle when the time came late on Friday morning.

According to royal protocol, the immediate family members would have been informed of the news, followed by UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson – with the code “Forth Bridge is down”, triggering Operation Forth Bridge and flags atop palaces and government buildings flying at half-mast.

Royal events were given codenames historically to ensure the news did not leak to the public via the palace switchboards until all the relevant departments had been officially informed.

 

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