Prince Philip obituary: The Duke of Edinburgh dies aged 99

Prince Philip death: Gun salutes across UK at midday

‘A great friend, inspiration and role model,’ says head of the British armed forces

Adam Forrest@adamtomforrest
Saturday 10 April 2021 09:05
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Gun salutes marking the death of Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, will take place across the UK and at sea on Saturday.

Saluting batteries will fire 41 rounds at one round every minute from 12 noon in cities including London, Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) has announced.

Political leaders and heads of state have paid tribute to Philip, after Buckingham Palace announced his death at the age of 99 on Friday. “The Royal Family join with people around the world in mourning his loss,” said the palace.

The public is being encouraged to observe the gun salutes online or on television, rather than gather in crowds to watch outside, in line with plans for a pared-back funeral due to Covid restrictions.

Gun salutes have been fired to mark significant national events since as early the 18th century, and were used to mark the deaths of Queen Victoria in 1901 and Winston Churchill in 1965.

In London, the King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery will ride out from their base at Napier Lines, Woolwich Barracks, onto the Parade Ground on Saturday.

The artillery will be firing field guns dating from the First World War – the same guns fired for Philip’s wedding to the Queen in 1947 and at her Coronation six years later in 1953.

“His Royal Highness Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh was a constant supporter and ambassador of the armed forces,” said defence secretary Ben Wallace on the midday tribute.

“We celebrate his life of service and offer our condolences to Her Majesty the Queen and the royal family,” the minister added.

Under earlier arrangements for after the duke’s death, given the codename Operation Forth Bridge, thousands of people were expected to flock to Windsor to watch the military procession on the day of the funeral.

Although people gathered to lay flowers outside the Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle to pay their respects on Friday, the public have been “regretfully” asked not to attend the procession.

The Queen and Prince Philip on HMCS St John’s

All political campaigning for May’s local elections has stopped, and government buildings have been told to fly flags at half-mast until 8am on the day after the duke’s funeral.

Saturday’s gun salute will now act as the military’s tribute to Philip. Chief of the Defence Staff, General Sir Nick Carter said the duke had been “devoted” to the armed forces after his own years in the Royal Navy.

Sir Nick said: “His Royal Highness has been a great friend, inspiration and role model for the armed forces and he will be sorely missed.

“A life well lived, His Royal Highness leaves us with a legacy of indomitable spirit, steadfastness and an unshakeable sense of duty. From all of us who serve today and who have served, thank you.”

The Honourable Artillery Company will fire a salute at the Tower of London, the 104th Regiment Royal Artillery will fire from Cardiff Castle, and the 105th Regiment Royal Artillery will fire at Hillsborough Castle, Belfast and Edinburgh Castle.

Philip joined the Royal Navy in 1939

Ships taking part include the HMS Diamond, HMS Montrose and HMNB Portsmouth, while the Royal Gibraltar Regiment will join the salute from the British overseas territory.

Philip joined the Royal Navy after leaving school, beginning at the Britannia Royal Naval College in Dartmouth in May 1939, and was singled out as best cadet. During the Second World War, he served on several ships and saw active service against German, Italian and Japanese forces.

He rose rapidly through the ranks, with some believing he could have become First Sea Lord – the professional head of the Royal Navy. But the Duke stepped down from his active role in the forces to fulfil his duty as the Queen’s consort.

Joe Biden comments on passing of Prince Philip

Boris Johnson led the tributes on Friday, saying said the duke had “earned the affection of generations here in the United Kingdom, across the Commonwealth, and around the world”.

US president Joe Biden told reporters: “He was a heck of a guy ... 99-years-old and he never slowed down at all, which I admire the devil out of.”

Australian prime minister Scott Morrison said Philip “embodied a generation that we will never see again”, while Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau, described him as a “man of great purpose and conviction”.

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