‘We’ve lost almost the grandfather of the nation,’ says Prince Andrew
Coronavirus restrictions limit Prince Philip’s funeral on Saturday in Windsor to 30 people
Flowers left by British public for the late Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, outside St George’s Chapel, Windsor. Photograph: Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty
Britain’s Queen Elizabeth has told her family that the death of her husband Prince Philip last Friday has left a huge void in her life. In his first public statement since withdrawing from public life almost a year ago, Prince Andrew described his father’s death as a terrible loss.
“The Queen, as you would expect, is an incredibly stoic person. She described it as having left a huge void in her life but we, the family, the ones that are close, are rallying round to make sure that we’re there to support her,” he said as he left a church service at Windsor’s royal lodge.
“He was so calm. If you had a problem, he would think about it. He was always somebody you could go to and he would always listen so it’s a great loss. We’ve lost almost the grandfather of the nation. And I feel very sorry and supportive of my mother who’s feeling it probably more than everybody else.”
Prince Andrew resigned permanently from all public duties last May following allegations of sexual abuse and revelations about his friendship with convicted sex offender, Jeffrey Epstein.
Prince Harry will return from the United States for his grandfather’s funeral on Saturday but his wife Meghan, who is pregnant, will remain in California. It will be the first time the prince will meet his family face to face since he and his wife criticised them in a TV interview with Oprah Winfrey last month.
Prince Charles and Princess Anne paid tribute to their father in statements over the weekend and Prince Edward’s wife Sophie, Countess of Wessex, told reporters at Windsor that Prince Philip’s death had been very peaceful.
“It was right for him. It was so gentle. It was just like somebody took him by the hand and off he went,” she said.
“Very, very peaceful and that’s all you want for somebody isn’t it? I think it’s so much easier for the person that goes than the people that are left behind.”
Because of coronavirus restrictions, just 30 people will attend the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral at St George’s Chapel in Windsor next Saturday. British prime minister Boris Johnson said he will not attend “to allow for as many family members as possible” to be there.
MPs will return to Westminster on Monday, a day earlier than planned, to pay tribute to Prince Philip. Official guidance on mourning protocol says that MPs should wear black armbands in parliament until after the funeral.
Flags on public buildings will continue to fly at half-mast for the week, although Buckingham Palace has urged the public not to gather at royal residences to lay flowers or pay their respects.
The BBC, which merged its channels on radio and television for a few hours on Friday after the death was announced, also changed schedules on a number of its networks on Saturday and Sunday. There were so many complaints that the corporation created a special form on its website for those wishing to register their unhappiness about the extent of the coverage.