Britain’s Prince Philip has died aged 99

Husband of Queen Elizabeth visited Ireland in May 2011 on State visit

Britain’s Prince Philip, husband of Queen Elizabeth, has died.

A statement from Buckingham Palace in London said: “It is with deep sorrow that Her Majesty The Queen has announced 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.”

On March 16th, he left King Edward VII’s Hospital following a month-long stay receiving treatment. He initially received care for an infection but then underwent heart surgery for a pre-existing condition.

Prince Philip made a State visit to Ireland in May 2011 with the queen, following an invitation from then president Mary McAleese.

President Michael D Higgins said he had heard with great sadness of the death of the Duke of Edinburgh.

“On behalf of the people of Ireland, I wish to convey my condolences to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, her children, her extended family and the people of the United Kingdom,” Mr Higgins said.

“For over sixty years, and as husband to Britain’s longest serving monarch, Prince Philip served the British people with an unfailing commitment and devotion to duty. In the course of his long service he frequently brought an air of informality to otherwise formal occasions. His distinctive presence and unique sense of humour put participants at ease and always engaged those who encountered him.”

Mr Higgins described the prince a “steadfast support” to the Queen, noting that he had accompanied her on many visits to Northern Ireland and also on her historic State Visit to Ireland in 2011.

“I recall with a special appreciation how welcome he made Sabina and I feel in 2014, when I was making the first State Visit by an Irish Head of State to the United Kingdom in 2014. My hope is that these visits in 2011 and 2014, which he shared, will continue to be symbols of what we share as neighbours in friendship, peace and a sustainable future.”

Mr Higgins said he prince was an active supporter of many charities and worthwhile causes, and was far-seeing in being an early advocate for protecting the environment. “Likewise the Duke of Edinburgh Awards provided for many generations of young people and those of diverse backgrounds a very effective focus for citizen engagement. I was very pleased when his scheme, the Duke of Edinburgh Award, and our own Gaisce, the President’s Award, were able to co-operate in the sharing and recognition of awards in Northern Ireland and elsewherem” he said.

“Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis.”

Taoiseach Micheál Martin said his thoughts and prayers were with the queen and her family.

“Ireland remembers the great success of the State Visit to Ireland in 2011 by Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip, a historic and important occasion which was a key moment in our bilateral relations.

“This was followed in 2014 by the State Visit to the United Kingdom by the President and Mrs Higgins, when they were hosted so generously in Windsor Castle and across Britain.

“The commitment of the Royal Family to Irish-British relations is an important part of the work we do together - and today we pay tribute to Prince Philip’s own important contribution.”

Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney also extended condolences to all British people on the death of Prince Philip. “Our thoughts are with you on a very sad day for the United Kingdom”.

Meanwhile, the North’s First Minister and DUP leader Arlene Foster said she felt a deep sadness at Prince Philip’s death, which she said would be shared with countless others in Northern Ireland.

“He had a strong interest in Northern Ireland and I had the privilege of meeting him on a number of his many visits here,” Mrs 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.”

Deputy First Minister and Sinn Fein vice-president Michelle O’Neill added her condolences.

“As Deputy First Minister I wish to extend my sincere condolences to Queen Elizabeth and her family on the death of her husband Prince Phillip,” Ms O’Neill wrote on Twitter.

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood paid tribute to the prince’s role in building reconciliation in Ireland.

“Phillip and his family were directly affected by the conflict on this island and between these islands,” he said.

“I want to acknowledge the role that he played alongside Queen Elizabeth in building relationships and promoting reconciliation, most visibly during their recent visit to Ireland.

“He had a part to play in sustaining the new bond of shared endeavour across these islands.”

Mr Eastwood offered sympathies to the queen and her family as well as those people in the North “who feel a special connection and affinity with Prince Philip and the royal family.”

The Catholic Primate of All Ireland Archbishop Eamon Martin said Queen Elizabeth and all the royal family were “in our prayers on the death of a much loved husband, father, grandfather and great grandfather.”

“Prince Philip has been a regular visitor to Northern Ireland in connection with his widespread charitable work,” he said.

“Many pupils from right across the community here have participated in the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme.

“However, his visit to Ireland along with Queen Elizabeth in 2011, stands out as a cherished moment of peace and reconciliation and as an historic demonstration of the importance of mutual understanding and respectful relationships between these islands.

“I will offer prayers for Queen Elizabeth and her family at this difficult personal time and will pray for the happy repose of the soul of Prince Philip.”

Speaking at a podium outside Downing Street on Friday, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Prince Philip would be remembered for his “steadfast support” of the Queen, as well as his awards scheme which “inspired” countless young people. “He was an environmentalist, and a champion of the natural world long before it was fashionable. With his Duke of Edinburgh Award 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,” he said.

The flags above Downing Street were lowered to half-mast after the news broke at noon.

The US President Joe Biden said he and his wife Jill sent their deepest condolences to Queen Elizabeth and the entire royal family. “Over the course of his 99 year life he saw our world change dramatically and repeatedly. From his service during World War II, to his 73 years alongside the Queen, and his entire life in the public eye Prince Philip gladly dedicated himself to the people of the UK, the Commonwealth, and to his family,” he said in a statement.

“The impact of his decades of devoted public service is evident in the worthy causes he lifted up as patron, in the environmental efforts he championed, in the members of the armed forces that he supported, in the young people he inspired, and so much more. His legacy will live on not only through his family, but in all the charitable endeavours he shaped”.

The prince was the longest-serving consort in British history, and was married to the queen for more than 70 years.

He officially retired from public engagements in the summer of 2017.

He was just two months away from his 100th birthday in June. He spent much of the Covid-19 crisis staying with the queen at Windsor in HMS Bubble, the nickname given to the couple’s reduced household of staff during lockdown. -