BORIS JOHNSON has led the nation in paying his respects to the “extraordinary” life of public service undertaken by Prince Philip, The Duke of Edinburgh, who passed away this morning.
The Union Flag over No10 and buildings across Westminster have been lowered to half-mast out of respect.
“We mourn today with Her Majesty the Queen, we offer our condolences to her and all her family and we give thanks as a nation and a kingdom for the extraordinary work of Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh,” Mr Johnson said.
“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.
“He was an environmentalist, and a champion of the natural world long before it was fashionable.
Boris Johnson has led the country in paying respects
“With his Duke of Edinburgh awards scheme he shaped and inspired the lives of countless young people and at literally tens of thousands of events he fostered their hopes and encouraged their ambitions.
“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.
“And it is to Her Majesty, and her family, that our nation’s thoughts must turn today.
“Because they have lost not just a much-loved and highly respected public figure, but a devoted husband and a proud and loving father, grandfather and, in recent years, great-grandfather.
“Speaking on their golden wedding anniversary, Her Majesty said that our country owed her husband ‘a greater debt than he would ever claim or we shall ever know’ and I am sure that estimate is correct.”
The Prime Minister reiterated comments that Philip was the Queen’s ‘strength and stay’
Mr Johnson described Philip as a ‘devoted husband’ as well as public servant
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer echoed Mr Johnson’s remarks, saying: “The United Kingdom has lost an extraordinary public servant in Prince Philip.
“Prince Philip dedicated his life to our country.”
Veterans minister Johnny Mercer described the news as “tragic” and said Philip, who served in the Navy in World War 2, was “a true patriot”.
The Duke joined the Royal Naval College at Dartmouth as a cadet in 1939.
He took part in the Allied landings in Sicily and was in Tokyo Bay when Japan surrendered in 1945.
Nicholas Soames, a former Conservative MP and the grandson of Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill, who led the nation through war, said: “The death of Prince Philip marks the passing of a truly remarkable man who lived a life of impeccable and dedicated service to his Queen and Country.”
Prince Philip served in the Nary during the World War 2
The Duke has been remembered for his life in service, both in the war and after
The leaders of the devolved administrations have also paid their respects.
Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said she was “saddened” by the announcement, and that her “personal and deepest condolences and those of the Scottish Government and the people of Scotland” were with the Royal Family.
Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford drew attention to his “selfless devotion” in a statement of his own.
He said: “Incredibly sad to hear of the passing of HRH The Duke of Edinburgh.
“He served the crown with selfless devotion and will be sorely missed by the people of Wales and the many organisations he supported.
“My condolences to Her Majesty the Queen and the family during this sad time.”
Flags above No10 have been lowered to half-mast
Downing Street’s Union Flags have been lowered out of respect
Northern Ireland First Minister Arlene Foster said “he had a profound and positive impact on thousands of our young people, who found their purpose, passion and place in the world through participation in the Duke of Edinburgh awards”.
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said: “We mourn the loss of an extraordinary man, who devoted his life to public service and helping others.
“Not only did His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh devoted 70 years to undertaking royal duties, but he also fought for Britain.”
Political parties have announced they are suspending their campaigns for the local elections on May 6 out of respect.
Married to the Queen for more than 70 years, Philip was the longest-serving consort in British history.
He officially retired from public engagements in the summer of 2017.
Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh – royal timeline
In a pre-recorded interview with ITV News, former Prime Minister Theresa May also praised the Duke for his role in supporting Her Majesty.
Drawing on the similarities with her own experiences as a female leader with a strong husband by her side, she said: “Having somebody there who you could rely on who was always there for you and understood the pressures you were under was very important.
“If you’re doing it on you own you have more of a burden to have to take on board.
“And its not that you’re discussing everything with your partner, but it’s just that there’s somebody there who can be with you, and that you know will support you.”
As well as national politicians, world leaders have also paid their respects to the Duke of Edinburgh.
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.”
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said: “My thoughts are with the British people and the Royal Family on the passing away of HRH The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.
“He had a distinguished career in the military and was at the forefront of many community service initiatives. May his soul rest in peace.”
Scott Morrison, the Prime Minister of Australia, said in a statement: “Prince Philip was no stranger to Australia, having visited our country on more than 20 occasions.
“Through his service to the Commonwealth he presided as patron or president of nearly 50 organisations in Australia.
“Given his own service, Prince Philip also had a strong connection with the Australian Defence Force.
He added Australians would “send our love and deepest condolences to her Majesty and all the Royal family”.
Details on when Prince Philip’s funeral will be held and whether politicians from the UK diplomats from around the world will be allowed to attend given the pandemic are yet to be released.
Source: EXPRESS CO UK