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Obituaries

Prince Philip, husband of Queen Elizabeth II, dies aged 99

Duke of Edinburgh to lie in state at St James's Palace before being buried at Windsor Castle

Prince Philip ‘passed away peacefully’ at Windsor Castle.   © Getty Images

LONDON (Financial Times) -- Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh and husband of Queen Elizabeth II, has died at the age of 99.

Buckingham Palace announced on Friday that the duke, who married the then 21-year-old Princess Elizabeth in 1947, "passed away peacefully this morning at Windsor Castle".

He had been discharged from hospital last month, where he underwent what Buckingham Palace described as a "successful procedure" for a pre-existing heart condition, after being admitted for an infection in February.

The duke will not have a state funeral. In a statement, the College of Arms, which is responsible for helping to arrange state events and ceremonials, said that instead the body "will lie at rest in Windsor Castle ahead of the funeral in St George's Chapel".

The College of Arms added that the funeral arrangements had "been revised in view of the prevailing circumstances arising from the Covid-19 pandemic", with members of the public advised they would not be able to "attend or participate in any of the events that make up the funeral".

A critical figure in the shaping of Britain's royal family over more than seven decades, Philip engaged in public duties for almost 70 years until he retired from public life in August 2017.

In a televised statement on Friday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson praised him for his support for the Queen.

"We remember the duke for all of this and above all for his steadfast support for Her Majesty the Queen - not just as her consort, by her side every day of her reign, but as her husband, her strength and stay of more than 70 years," he said.

Johnson also reflected on the duke's lifetime of service within the military and with young people, adding: "Prince Philip earned the affection of generations here in the United Kingdom, across the Commonwealth and around the world."

Opposition leader Keir Starmer also paid tribute. "The United Kingdom has lost an extraordinary public servant in Prince Philip," he said.

Other political leaders from across the UK offered their condolences. Welsh first minister Mark Drakeford said Philip would be "missed", adding: "Throughout his long and distinguished life, he served the Crown with selfless devotion and generosity of spirit."

Nicola Sturgeon, first minister of Scotland, said: "On behalf of the people of Scotland, I would like to express my deepest sympathy to Her Majesty The Queen and the rest of the royal family."

Born in June 1921 in Corfu, Philip's father was a prince of both the Greek and Danish royal families, while his mother belonged to the royal family of Hesse, in Germany. The duke was carried out of Greece in a fruit box on a Royal Navy vessel as a baby amid growing hostility to the royal family following the Greco-Turkish war.

Having a multitude of family ties to the UK, the duke first settled in the country as a pupil at Gordonstoun School, in the Scottish Highlands. He went there after Kurt Hahn, who had run the prince's previous school, in Germany, fled the threat of growing persecution from the Nazi regime.

He first met Princess Elizabeth - then 13 - when he showed her and Princess Margaret, her sister, around Dartmouth Naval College, where he was studying, in 1939 and the pair started corresponding. They married in November 1947. It was the duke who in February 1952 informed his wife, during a visit to Kenya, that her father had died and she was now queen.

He will be remembered for his work in establishing, in 1956, the Duke of Edinburgh's award scheme to encourage young people to become involved in their communities and outdoor activity. He also served with distinction in the Royal Navy during the second world war and was a keen amateur pilot.

The duke also made the royal family more accessible by bringing cameras into Buckingham Palace. But his key role was to support his wife through a reign longer than that of any other UK monarch, often through times of turbulence for the royal family as an institution and for the country as a whole.

During celebrations to mark her diamond jubilee in 2012, the Queen said that the support of her family had been "beyond measure".

"Prince Philip is, I believe, well-known for declining compliments of any kind," she went on. "But, throughout, he has been a constant strength and guide."

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