Prince Philip obituary: The Duke of Edinburgh dies aged 99

‘A grand figure of the century’: World leaders pay tribute to Prince Philip following death at 99

He ‘embodied a generation that we will never see again’

Colin Drury@colin__drury
Friday 09 April 2021 15:39
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Leaders across the world are paying tribute to Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, after Buckingham Place announced his death at the age of 99.

Prime ministers, presidents and kings from all over Europe, the Commonweath and the rest of the planet are among those paying condolences after his passing was confirmed at midday on Friday.

A man of conviction, a grand figure of the century and a staunch exemplar of public service have all been among the descriptions lauded on the Queen’s husband.

Achievements mentioned within the hundreds of high-level international tributes were helping establish the post-war friendship between the UK and Germany, winning a place in the hearts of millions of Russians and changing the lives of children across the globe with his Duke of Edinburgh’s Award.

Even the Sinn Fein leader in Ireland, Mary Lou McDonald, was moved to offer condolences to the Queen.

Australian prime minister Scott Morrison set the tone within minutes of the announcement, declaring that Philip “embodied a generation that we will never see again”.

Recalling that Philip had visited the country more than 20 times, he said: “Australians send our love and deepest condolences to her Majesty and all the Royal family. The Commonwealth family joins together in sorrow and thanksgiving for the loss and life of Prince Philip. God bless from all here in Australia.”

His words were echoed by others across the Commonwealth,

New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern said her thoughts would be with the Queen at this “profoundly sad time”.

She added: “Prince Philip will be fondly remembered for the encouragement he gave to so many young New Zealanders through The Duke of Edinburgh’s Hillary Award. In over fifty years of the award in New Zealand, thousands of young people have completed life-changing challenges through the programme”.

The Indian prime minister Narendra Modi also expressed condolences, saying “my thoughts are with the British people and the Royal Family”.

Philip, he said, “had a distinguished career in the military and was at the forefront of many community service initiatives”.

Mr Modi met the Queen twice since he was first elected prime minister seven years ago - once in 2015, and once in 2018 when he also met Prince Charles.

During that second meeting, the Queen gifted Mr Modi a wedding present that she and Philip received in 1947 from Mahatma Gandhi. It was a piece of crocheted cotton made from yarn spun by Gandhi himself, featuring the words “Jai Hind” (“Go India!”) as its central motif.

And in Canada, prime minister JustinTrudeau, praised the the duke as a “man of great purpose and conviction, who was motivated by a sense of duty to others”.

He added: “Prince Philip contributed so much to the social fabric of our country - and the world.”

The German ambassador to the UK, Andreas Michaelis, was among European leaders and officials s who also paid tribute.

He said Philip had helped the two nations build a close relationship over the course of his lifetime and would be “sorely missed” in both countries.

He added: “It is a great privilege that he visited Germany on so many occasions and helped us develop a very close partnership between the UK and Germany.”

The country’s president Walter Steinmeier went further, praising the Prince's war record in fighting "Nazi terror".

“Prince Philip fought for the liberation of Europe,” he wrote. “His contribution to democracy and peace will remain in our memories. We Germans mourn a winning personality who made an important contribution to the reconciliation of our nations after the horrors of the Second World War."

In Sweden, King Carl XVI Gustaf, praised Philip as “a good friend of our family,” declaring “his service to his country will remain an inspiration to us all”, while Ireland’s foreign minister Simon Coveney tweeted condolences.

“Our thoughts and solidarity are with you on a very sad day for the United Kingdom,” he wrote.

And, although reaction in staunchly republican France was rather muted, Europe minister, Clement Beaune tweeted teh highest of praise. “Prince Philip,” he wrote, “was a grand figure of the century.”

The Russian embassy to the UK made reference to the fact that Philip was the great-great-grandson of their own Emperor Nicholas I in a tweet. He was, it continued, “admired and will be mourned by many Russians. May his soul rest in peace.”

President Vladimir Putin said he had sent the Queen a telegram expressing his “deep condolences” and wishing her “courage and fortitude in the face of a grievous and irreparable loss".

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen tweeted: “I am saddened to hear of the passing of His Royal Highness Prince Philip. I would like to extend my sincere sympathy to Her Majesty The Queen, the Royal Family and the people of the United Kingdom on this very sad day.”

Further afield, the president of the Maldives, another former Commonwealth country, sent his “Condolences and sympathies to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, [the royal family] and the people of the UK on the passing of HRH Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh”.

Ibrahim Mohamed Solih said Philip was “a staunch exemplar of public service”. “Maldivians fondly recall His Royal Highness’ visit to Maldives with HM Queen in 1972,” he added.

In Israel, prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu tweeted that “Prince Philip was the consummate public servant and will be much missed in Israel and across the world”.

The Duke of Edinburgh had won special affection in the country after breaking with royal protocol to visit Israel and the occupied Palestinian Territories where his mother, Princess Alice of Battenberg, is buried in east Jerusalem on the Mount of Olives.

And in Turkey, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan tweeted his - and his country’s - condolences.

Others offering their thoughts included prime minister of the Netherlands Marc Rutte, King Harald of Norway, the Belgian royal family, Pakistan leader Imran Khan and the emir of Qatar Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani.

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