The death of Prince Philip, the husband of Queen Elizabeth II, at 99 on Friday came at the end of a year marked by mourning, with 150,000 lives lost to Covid-19 in Britain.
Buckingham Palace said that Prince Philip had died peacefully, and he was vaccinated against the coronavirus early this year, along with the queen.
Yet his death is likely to take on a new meaning in the middle of a pandemic, and to raise many questions: What will the funeral look like at a time of social distancing measures? With global travel restrictions in place, when will his grandson Prince Harry be able return from the United States with his wife, Meghan?
And with families across Britain unable to hold typical funerals for loved ones lost to Covid-19, how will the country’s most famous family mourn one of their own?
The palace said that a full outline would likely be released on Saturday, but details began to emerge on Friday. The ceremony will not be a state funeral and will not be preceded by a lying-in-state, according to a statement from the College of Arms, which has created and maintained official registers of coats of arms and pedigrees since 1484.
“His Royal Highness’s body will lie at rest in Windsor Castle ahead of the funeral in St. George’s Chapel,” the statement said.
“The funeral arrangements have been revised in view of the prevailing circumstances arising from the Covid-19 pandemic,” it added, “and it is regretfully requested that members of the public do not attempt to attend or participate in any of the events that make up the funeral.”
Philip had been hospitalized in February for a heart problem and was discharged last month. Buckingham Palace said that his hospitalization was not related to the coronavirus.
But the privileges of royalty did not grant the family immunity from the virus.
The queen has encouraged people in the country to be vaccinated. “Once you’ve had the vaccine, you have a feeling of, you know, you’re protected,” she said in a public call with health officials.
Britain is slowly emerging from a stringent national lockdown of recent months, with outdoor spaces in pubs and restaurants scheduled to reopen on Monday, as well as nonessential shops, gyms and hair salons. But many bereaved families of those lost to Covid-19 have said that as the country moves to brighter days, the staggering deaths of 150,000 people should not be forgotten.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson of Britain led tributes to Prince Philip on Friday, praising his lifelong support for Queen Elizabeth II and adding that he had “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 and one of the last surviving people in this country to have served in the Second World War,” Mr. Johnson said in a statement read in somber tones.
Referring to the prince’s hobby of driving horse-drawn carriages, Mr. Johnson added that “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.”
The leader of the opposition Labour Party, Keir Starmer, echoed those sentiments, saying that Britain had “lost an extraordinary public servant.”
“Prince Philip dedicated his life to our country — from a distinguished career in the Royal Navy during the Second World War to his decades of service as the Duke of Edinburgh,” Mr. Starmer added in a statement. “However, he will be remembered most of all for his extraordinary commitment and devotion to the queen.”
As is tradition after the death of royal, the government said it was going into a period of mourning, during which time there will be limited ministerial statements and media appearances — basically restricting pronouncements to those connected to the pandemic and other matters deemed urgent.
Scotland’s leader, Nicola Sturgeon, said that she was saddened by the news of Philip’s death and that she was sending her deepest condolences to the royal family.
Sadiq Khan, London’s mayor, said that he was grateful for the contributions Philip had made to the city, including his charity work, and that his legacy would positively impact the city for many years to come.
Lindsay Hoyle, the House of Commons speaker, also paid tribute, saying, “His was a long life that saw so much dedication to duty.”
In prerecorded remarks broadcast on ITV News, Theresa May, Mr. Johnson’s predecessor as prime minister, reflected on Philip’s supporting role: “It must be quite difficult for a male consort. They have to recognize their life is the monarch or head of state. But throughout his life, Prince Philip provided that strength, that rock, that reliable support and played an immensely important role,” she said.
With Queen Elizabeth in residence at Windsor Castle outside London, mourning the death of her husband, Prince Philip, on Friday, crowds gathered outside the gates of the world’s largest and oldest inhabited castle to pay their respects.
They came to leave flowers, take pictures and note the death of a member of an institution that — despite periods of deep turmoil — still commands respect and fascination.
Outside Buckingham Palace in central London, crowds also formed soon after the news of his death emerged. The palace issued a statement in the afternoon asking people to not leave flowers at the gate, but the wrought-iron fence had been awash in bouquets within hours.
A small girl unfurled a British flag on the pavement before the flowers laid at the gate of the magisterial royal home.
“I just have so much respect for Prince Philip and all he’s done,” said Britta Bia, 53. “I have so much respect for the royal family. I think they’ve done so much for charitable causes, and I think they’ve been upstanding citizens of the commonwealth.”
Along the Mall leading to the palace, hundreds of taxis lined the road in tribute — the first of which had the red and blue of the Union Jack flag stretched across its windshield.
“We love the royal family,” said Bala Murali, 41, a Sri Lanka native who has worked as a taxi driver in England for 15 years. After making arrangements on Twitter, he and some fellow drivers had gathered in central London before making their way to the palace.
“We’ve taken so many jobs from the royal family because of the visitors and the parties,” Mr. Murali said.
Jason Zhu, 34, lives near the palace and said he had come to offer his condolences.
“As a foreigner, I think the royal family’s been doing a really great job,” said Mr. Zhu, who moved to London from Beijing seven years ago. “I think they’re the only royal family in the world still working hard to actually do things for the British people and British people overseas.”
Lottie Smith, 18, and two friends who live in Greenwich heard of Philip’s death while they were on the train in to London, and decided to take a detour to the palace. She said it was a moment to reflect on what really matters in life.
Catherine Vellacott, 19, said she hoped his death would “maybe unite the nation more.”
Peter Appleby, 22, flowers in hand, said that it was one more loss in a year marked by death.
“He’s had a hard year like everybody, and it doesn’t cost much to come and show a bit of respect,” he said.
John Stillwell/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
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Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh who married the future queen in 1947, brought the monarchy into the 20th century.
Where and when they first met remains unclear. He was invited to dine on the royal yacht when Elizabeth was 13 or 14. He was also invited to stay at Windsor Castle around that time while on leave from the Navy, and there were reports that he visited the royal family at Balmoral, its country estate in Scotland.
After that weekend, Elizabeth told her father, King George VI, that the naval officer was “the only man I could ever love.” Her father at first cautioned her to be patient.
Whisked off on a royal tour to South Africa, Elizabeth was said to have written to Philip three times a week. By the time she returned to England, Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark had renounced his foreign titles and become Lt. Philip Mountbatten, a British subject.
The engagement was announced on July 10, 1947. That year, on the eve of the wedding, Lieutenant Mountbatten was made the Duke of Edinburgh, Earl of Merioneth and Baron of Greenwich, and given the title His Royal Highness.
The prince, 26, married the young crown princess, who was 21, on Nov. 20, 1947, in a ceremony complete with horse-drawn coaches and a throng of adoring subjects lining the route between Buckingham Palace and Westminster Abbey.
The birth of their first child, Charles Philip Arthur George, on Nov. 14, 1948, at Buckingham Palace, was followed by Princess Anne, in 1950; Prince Andrew, in 1960, after Elizabeth became queen; and Prince Edward, in 1964.
In addition to the queen and their children, he is survived by eight grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.
After his marriage, Prince Philip took command of the frigate Magpie in Malta. But King George VI had lung cancer, and when his condition worsened, it was announced that Philip would take no more naval appointments.
In 1952, the young couple were in Kenya, their first stop on a commonwealth tour, when word arrived on Feb. 6 that the king was dead. Philip broke the news to his wife.
The same year, the new queen ordained that Philip should be “first gentleman in the land,” giving him “a place of pre-eminence and precedence next to Her Majesty.”
Philip occupied a peculiar place on the world stage as the husband of a queen whose powers were largely ceremonial. He was essentially a second-fiddle figurehead, accompanying her on royal visits and sometimes standing in for her.
By royal warrant, the queen gave Philip the title Prince of the United Kingdom, bringing her husband’s name into the royal line.
While at times there were rumors of trouble in the marriage, their children’s marital difficulties overshadowed any discord between the parents.
Philip was born on the Greek island of Corfu on June 10, 1921, the fifth child and only son of Prince Andrew of Greece and Denmark, who was the brother of King Constantine of Greece. His mother was the former Princess Alice, the oldest daughter of the former Prince Louis of Battenberg, the first Marquess of Milford Haven, who changed the family name to Mountbatten during World War I.
Philip’s family was not Greek but rather descended from a royal Danish house that the European powers had put on the throne of Greece at the end of the 19th century. Philip, who never learned the Greek language, was sixth in line to the Greek throne.
Through his mother, Philip was a great-great-grandson of Queen Victoria, just as Elizabeth is Victoria’s great-great-granddaughter. Both were great-great-great-grandchildren of George III, who presided over Britain’s loss of the American colonies.
A year after Philip was born, the army of King Constantine was overwhelmed by the Turks in Asia Minor. Prince Andrew, Philip’s father, who had commanded an army corps in the routed Greek forces, was banished by a revolutionary Greek junta.
In “Prince Philip: The Turbulent Early Life of the Man Who Married Queen Elizabeth II” (2011), the British writer Philip Eade reported that as an infant Philip was smuggled out of Greece in a fruit crate as his father, eluding execution, found refuge for his family in Paris, where they lived in straitened circumstances.
Philip’s father was said to have been an Anglophile. The boy’s first language was English, taught to him by a British nanny. He grew to 6-foot-1, his blue eyes and blond hair reflecting his Nordic ancestry.
When his parents separated, Philip was sent to live with his mother’s mother, the Dowager Marchioness of Milford Haven, a granddaughter of Queen Victoria. He spent four years at the Cheam School in England, an institution bent on toughening privileged children, and then went to Gordonstoun School in Scotland, which was even more austere, promoting a regimen of hard work, cold showers and hard beds. In five years, he said, no one from his family came to visit him.
Even so, Philip sent his son Charles to both schools, to have him follow in his footsteps.
At Gordonstoun, Philip developed a love of the sea, learning seamanship and boatbuilding as a volunteer coast guardsman at the school. He seemed destined to follow his Mountbatten uncles into the British Navy.
Brusque, avuncular and with a reputation for being overly plain-speaking, Prince Philip over the years produced a collection of offensive, tone deaf and, on occasion, outrageous one-liners that were recorded by generations of British journalists.
His propensity to embarrass Buckingham Palace waxed and waned over the years, but never entirely faded even after decades of dinners, ceremonies and other engagements alongside Queen Elizabeth II. Some examples:
On a trip to Canada in 1969: “I declare this thing open, whatever it is.”
On another tour of Canada in 1976: “We don’t come here for our health. We can think of other ways of enjoying ourselves.”
During a recession in Britain in 1981: “Everybody was saying we must have more leisure. Now they are complaining they are unemployed.”
When accepting a figurine from a woman during a visit to Kenya in 1984: “You are a woman, aren’t you?”
Speaking to British students in China during a 1986 state visit: “If you stay here much longer, you’ll all be slitty-eyed.”
To a driving instructor in Oban, Scotland, in 1995: “How do you keep the natives off the booze long enough to pass the test?”
Suggesting to a British student in 1998 who had been trekking in Papua New Guinea that people there were still cannibals: “You managed not to get eaten, then?”
Visiting a factory in Edinburgh in 1999, pointing to an old-fashioned fuse box: “It looks as if it was put in by an Indian.”
Speaking to young deaf people in Cardiff, Wales, in 1999, referring to a school’s steel band: “Deaf? If you are near there, no wonder you are deaf.”
Meeting the president of Nigeria, who was dressed in traditional robes: “You look like you’re ready for bed!”
To a group of female Labour Party lawmakers at a party at Buckingham Palace in 2000: “Ah, so this is feminist corner then.”
As British leaders offered tributes and condolences, members of the royal family also offered personal recollections about Prince Philip.
His youngest son, Prince Edward, said in comments pre-recorded for ITV News that his parents had been “such a fantastic support to each other during all those years and all those events and all those tours and events overseas.”
“To have someone that you confide in and smile about things that you perhaps could not in public,” Edward said, “to be able to share that is immensely important.”
As for Philip’s occasionally abrasive interactions with the news media over the decades, Edward said that his father “used to give them as good as he got, and always in a very entertaining way.”
Edward, 57, added: “Anyone who had the privilege to hear him speak said it was his humor which always came through and the twinkle in his eye.”
Prince Philip’s daughter, Princess Anne, said that her father’s decision to give up his naval career demonstrated his level of commitment to Queen Elizabeth.
“It shows a real understanding of the pressure the queen was going through, and that the best way he could support her was on giving up on his career,” added Anne, 70.
“Without him,” she said, “life will be completely different.”
Leaders from around the world offered tributes to Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, who died on Friday, recalling his decades of service, his career in the Royal Navy and his role in Britain’s royal family.
President Biden lauded Philip’s service during World War II and his 73 years with Queen Elizabeth II, sending his “deepest condolences.”
“The impact of his decades of devoted public service is evident in the worthy causes he lifted up as patron, in the environmental efforts he championed, in the members of the armed forces that he supported, in the young people he inspired, and so much more,” Mr. Biden said in a statement. “His legacy will live on not only through his family, but in all the charitable endeavors he shaped.”
Prime Minister Scott Morrison of Australia said in a statement that the prince had “embodied a generation that we will never see again.”
Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India said Philip “had a distinguished career in the military and was at the forefront of many community service initiatives.”
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada said the prince would be “remembered as a decorated naval officer, a dedicated philanthropist and a constant in the life of Queen Elizabeth II.”
“A man of great purpose and conviction, who was motivated by a sense of duty to others, Prince Philip contributed so much to the social fabric of our country — and the world,” Mr. Trudeau said.
President Michael D. Higgins of Ireland praised Philip’s “unfailing commitment and devotion to duty,” and said he “frequently brought an air of informality to otherwise formal occasions.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel called Philip “the consummate public servant” and said he would be “much missed in Israel and across the world.”
Others to offer condolences included Prime Jacinda Ardern of New Zealand; Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission; Prime Minister Imran Khan of Pakistan; President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey; Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s leader; President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia; and President Emmanuel Macron of France.
Former American officials, including former Vice President Mike Pence and President George W. Bush, offered their condolences as well.
“He represented the United Kingdom with dignity and brought boundless strength and support to the sovereign,” President Bush said in a statement. He added that he and his wife, Laura Bush, were “fortunate to have enjoyed the charm and wit of his company, and we know how much he will be missed.”
By the time Prince Philip stepped down from his official royal duties in August 2017 — fulfilling the requirements of a job for which there is no precise standard, unless you consider second fiddle a job description — the prince had slogged through a staggering 22,219 solo public engagements.
The queen’s consort should be impeccable yet unassuming, irreproachable in style without drawing the onlooker’s eye away the most famous woman on Earth.
If the clothes that Queen Elizabeth II wears in public are engineered to meet programmatic requirements — bright colors and lofty hats to make her easy to spot, symbolically freighted jewelry — those of Prince Philip were tailored to keep him faultlessly inconspicuous.
For decades, his suits were made for him by John N. Kent, a Savile Row artisan. The prince’s shirts came from Stephens Brothers, and his bespoke shoes from the century-and-a-half-old boot maker John Lobb.
Search online, and you won’t find an image of Prince Philip committing a style solecism.
There is never a novelty tie or a funny hat.
For that matter, and except on obligatory state occasions, there is little enough of the comic operetta regalia beloved of his uncle, Louis Mountbatten, the First Earl Mountbatten of Burma: no braiding, no frogging, no sashes or fringed and gilded epaulets — just outfitted for purpose.