Prince Philip, the lifelong companion of Great Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II and the longest-serving consort of any British monarch, passed away on Friday.
He was 99 years old.
A statement posted on the official Buckingham Palace website confirmed the tragic news.
"It is with deep sorrow that Her Majesty The Queen announces the death of her beloved husband, His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh," this message read, concluding as follows:
"His Royal Highness passed away peacefully this morning at Windsor Castle."
"Further announcements will made in due course."
"The Royal Family join with people around the world in mourning his loss."
The duke had been admitted to the King Edward VII Hospital in London hospital on February 17 due to an undisclosed illness.
The palace later confirmed that he was being treated for an infection.
On March 1, Philip was transferred to St. Bartholomew’s Hospital, also in London, where physicians continued to treat the infection … as well as undertake testing for a pre-existing heart condition.
Following a heart procedure, the duke was discharged from hospital in mid-March.
It’s been widely assumed ever since, however, that the prince was in his final days.
He married the then Princess Elizabeth in 1947 after a courtship that charmed a nation still reeling from the consequences of World War II.
Over seven decades of service, Philip often accompanied the Queen on royal engagements, while he also conducted thousands of his own solo appearances.
He once referred to himself as "the world’s most experienced plaque unveiler," while the Queen lauded him as her "constant strength and guide" and as her “strength and stay” in a speech on their 50th wedding anniversary in 1997.
In 2017, Philip retired and mostly receded from the spotlight.
While the prince spent a bulk of his time since then at his rural Sandringham estate, he was sometimes seen in later years at major family events — such as the wedding of Meghan Markle and Princee Harry at Windsor Castle
“I, and his whole family, and this and many other countries, owe him a debt greater than he would ever claim or we shall ever know,” the Queen said during her aforementioned anniversary speech.
As portrayed on screen on Netflix’s wildly popular series The Crown (first by Matt Smith, below, then by Tobias Menzies), Philip needed some time to adjust to his role as husband to a monarch.
He developed a reputation for the occasional brusque comment and/or crass remark, while also attempting to modernize a royal family whose traditions dated back numerous decades.
“The queen inherited from her father a model of monarchy that was very hands off, old-fashioned and slightly invisible,” said Sarah Gristwood, a historian and the author of Elizabeth: The Queen and the Crown.
“It wasn’t equipped to deal with a new media age, and Prince Philip played a huge role in moving it forward then," she added.
Elizabeth and Philip got married in Westminster Abbey on November 20, 1947… with around 2,000 guests in attendance and another 200 million listening to the ceremony on the radio.
Philip, who renounced his Greek royal title to become a British citizen, wrote to Elizabeth prior to this vow exchange:
"To have been spared in the war and seen victory, to have been given the chance to rest and to re-adjust myself, to have fallen in love completely and unreservedly, makes all one’s personal and even the world’s troubles seem small and petty."
The man had a way with words, huh?
Speaking at Downing Street on Friday, prime minister Boris Johnson said of the late prince:
Prince Philip earned the affection of generations here in the United Kingdom, across the Commonwealth, and around the world.
Like the expert carriage driver that he was, 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.
Added Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury:
He consistently put the interests of others ahead of his own and, in so doing, provided an outstanding example of Christian service.
As we recover and rebuild after the terrible trial of the coronavirus pandemic, we will need fortitude and a deep sense of commitment to serving others.
Philip is, of course, survived by his wife, his four grown children Charles, Anne, Andrew and Edward, eight grandchildren including Princes William and Harry, and ten great-grandchildren.
May Prince Philip rest in peace.