Prince Philip, the Queen’s ‘strength and guide’ throughout their 73-year marriage and her rock during her 69-year reign, has died today at the age of 99.
The Duke of Edinburgh spent his final days at Windsor Castle with his wife after a 28-night stay in hospital having been admitted in mid-February for an infection and a pre-existing heart condition.
Her Majesty announced her husband’s death at midday. Buckingham Palace said in a statement: ‘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’.
His death plunges the nation and the Royal Family into mourning, and brings to an end Philip’s lifetime of service to Britain and to Elizabeth, the Queen who adored him since her teens.
‘He has, quite simply, been my strength and stay all these years,’ Her Majesty said at their Golden Wedding banquet in 1997. ‘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.’
The quizzical, witty, faithful – and often controversial – the Duke was the Queen’s greatest source of support, her confidant and the man she relied on above all others.
Until his death, Philip was the longest-serving consort in British history and the oldest partner of a reigning monarch, who despite his ill health took part her first royal engagement of 2021 last week.
He was a great-grandfather of ten, with the most recent addition to his wider family being Zara and Mike Tindall’s baby son Lucas Philip Tindall on March 21 – soon after Princess Eugenie and Jack Brooksbank’s son August, who was born on February 9.
Philip’s lifelong role was to ensure that he never let The Queen down and their long-lasting marriage was one of the world’s best known relationships.
Reflecting their love in her Diamond Jubilee speech to Parliament in 2012, the Elizabeth said: ‘During these years as your Queen, the support of my family has, across the generations, been beyond measure. Prince Philip is, I believe, well-known for declining compliments of any kind. But throughout he has been a constant strength and guide.’
The last photograph of Philip with the Queen was in November 2020, where the Duke and Queen looked at their homemade card, given to them by their great-grandchildren Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis for their 73rd wedding anniversary
Good-looking and blond-haired, the Prince of Greece impressed the young Princess by jumping over the college tennis nets at their first publicised meeting. Pictured: Princess Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh in a wedding photograph in 1947. The couple were married for 73 years (pictured in a portrait taken to mark the 60th anniversary of The Queen’s Accession in 2012)
Their first child, Charles, was born at Buckingham Palace in November 1948. Anne was born at Clarence House in August 1950. Ten years later, Andrew was born at Buckingham Palace in February 1960, as was Edward in March 1964. This picture was taken in 1968 at Windsor Castle
A painting by Australian born artist Ralph Heimans of the Duke of Edinburgh, painted in the year of his retirement from public engagements, and released by Buckingham Palace in December 2017. Set in The Grand Corridor at Windsor Castle, the Duke is depicted wearing the sash of the Order of the Elephant, Denmark’s highest-ranking honour
The couple married in November 1947 – she a 21-year-old sheltered princess, he a swaggering Royal Navy officer with Greek and Danish royal blood, who had only recently seen active service during World War Two.
From that moment, the day Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten became the Duke of Edinburgh, Philip – a private, enigmatic man of strong character – was always there, one step behind, ready to lend the Queen a helping hand.
Following his retirement from public life in August 2017, he kept a low public profile.
In recent months the couple have lived through the coronavirus pandemic together, at Sandringham in Norfolk, during a summer break at Balmoral Estate in Scotland and latterly in what was dubbed ‘HMS Bubble’ at Windsor Castle from October 2020.
The pair received their coronavirus inoculations together at Windsor in January, and the virus was quickly ruled out as the cause of his admission to London’s King Edward VII hospital on February 16.
Buckingham Palace had initially said it was a precautionary measure because the Duke was feeling unwell, and his grandson Prince William said after a week of treatment that he was ‘OK’ but doctors were ‘keeping an eye on him’.
The palace then revealed the Duke was being treated for an ‘infection’, with his youngest son Prince Edward adding that the Royal Family were ‘keeping our fingers crossed’.
But concerns grew when, after two weeks at the private King Edward VII, Philip was transferred to St Bartholomew’s NHS hospital in central London with the palace saying he would ‘undertake testing and observation for a pre-existing heart condition’.
He then underwent a heart operation and was transferred back to King Edward VII’s, before eventually leaving on March 16 and returning to Windsor Castle by car following 28 days in hospital.
Philip’s eldest son Prince Charles, 72, paid him a half-hour visit during the first week of his treatment, making a 100-mile journey from Highgrove in Gloucestershire to the capital. Charles appeared emotional when he left.
The monarchy was plunged into crisis while Philip was in hospital following the shocking allegations of racism made by the Duke and Duchess of Sussex in their interview with chat show host Oprah Winfrey.
Harry and Meghan, who faced calls to postpone the interview because Philip was unwell, accused an unnamed royal, not the Queen nor the duke, of raising concerns about how dark their son Archie’s skin tone would be before he was born.
Meghan also told of how she begged for help when she was suicidal, but said the institution gave her no support. The Queen, 94, said the issues were concerning, but that ‘some recollections may vary’ and the matter was a family one that would be dealt with privately.
Although Philip was in remarkably good health well into his 90s, he had battled ill health in recent years and spent Christmas 2011 in hospital when he was rushed in needing a heart stent. It was the first Christmas he and the Queen had spent apart in their then 64-year marriage.