Brits leave sea of flowers and heartfelt tributes as they mourn Prince Philip's life of service
BRITS were united in grief yesterday following the death of Prince Philip — “the nation’s grandad”.
A sea of flowers and heartfelt tributes were laid in his memory and flags flew at half mast after news of the Duke of Edinburgh’s passing was announced at noon.
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Books of condolence opened for people to pay their respects to the 99-year-old Duke after a life of service and dedication.
Tearful mourners also began descending on Windsor Castle, where he died in his sleep yesterday morning.
Others headed to the gates of Buckingham Palace in London, Sandringham in Norfolk and Balmoral in Scotland. Once there, they stood in sombre silence, wiped tears away, exchanged stories and laid bouquets in his memory.
Messages attached to the floral tributes honoured his devotion to duty — but some were also addressed to the Queen.
At Aintree racecourse, jockeys and officials stood with their heads bowed as they led tributes from the sporting world with a two-minute silence.
But it was Windsor that became the epicentre for an outpouring of sorrow — as hundreds made their way to the castle’s gates and The Long Walk.
The residents of the Berkshire town affectionately referred to Philip as the “nation’s grandad”.
Pub landlord Robert Gillespie, who runs the Two Brewers in the town, said: “He would come down at 9.30am with his little ponies and his carriage and go down The Long Walk. He was always chatty, he would always say, ‘Good morning’.”
Local John Parnell said: “He was a man of principle. He stood by his wife and he never veered from duty. I can’t find any fault in him.”
TV producer and Windsor resident Woody Bradbury, 31, said news of the Duke’s death had left him heartbroken.
He added: “The Royal Family is my life. I love them. I’ve been brought up around it and the news today is simply heartbreaking.
“As a couple, Philip and the Queen have been through so much — especially recently. Their leadership has been inspirational. It’s the end of a truly great era.”
Shaken Sheila Reddicliffe, 78, described Philip as “an absolute rock for this country”.
Thomas Bowden, 56, who travelled from Southampton to mark the occasion, said: “I couldn’t miss this for anything. I had to pay my respects. Britain will not be the same again.”
As the crowds gathered, a member of the Royal Household moved the colourful blooms inside the gates of Windsor Castle.
Events manager Sian Keen, 25, was carrying a bundle of tulips as she made her way to the gates.
She said: “I think for people our age, this is the first royal who has died. It has affected us in a way I didn’t think it would.”
Charity worker James Elliott, 23, of Windsor, recalled meeting Prince Philip as a young Scout. He said: “I was about 15 but this news has hit me quite hard.
“It’s a sad day for the whole nation but for me because I grew up doing his Duke of Edinburgh programme.”
Tayla Lawrence, who took part in the Duke of Edinburgh Awards at Windsor Girls’ School, yesterday also laid flowers to pay tribute and said the scheme changed her life.
The 20-year-old University of Surrey economics student said: “It was a huge inspiration. I learned a lot. I wanted to pay tribute.
“This is terrible news. His legacy will live on through the scheme and through the many students that took part.
“It gives you a lot of opportunities and you learn so much.
“It’s so sad. But it changed so many lives like mine.”
Julia Simpson, 44, of Winchester, Hants, was in tears as she laid flowers yesterday. She had been working in the area and travelled down to pay her respects.
She said: “The mood is very sombre and emotional. He was a real rock for the country. He did so much and served for his country and they’ve had such a difficult and challenging few weeks. His strength has been immense.”
Mum-of-two Nicole Legere only moved to the UK from Chicago two weeks ago. She said she was honoured to be able to come to Windsor to pay her respects.
She added: “We have always loved the royals and it felt right to come down here.
“Our hearts go out to Her Majesty. We really love the Queen so I hope she is coping.”
Mother and daughter Margarita Murray, 64, and Amanda Kicketts, 35, travelled from Hazelmere, Bucks, to leave flowers on The Long Walk.
Margarita said: “The Duke’s marriage to the Queen set an example for the rest of us.
“They were together for over 70 years and clearly loved each other very much.
“We heard the news and dropped everything to come here — we just knew we had to come.”
At Buckingham Palace, scores of black cabs lined the Mall in tribute to the Duke, with many driving into the city on their day off.
Meanwhile, Ciaran Kenny, 21, was among those who laid flowers at the gates of Buckingham Palace. He said: “I think it should have touched everyone in the UK.
“The Royal Family have done a huge, tremendous part for the UK and for our country. It’s a huge loss for the monarchy.”
Royal superfan John Loughrey, 66, was decked out in a Union Jack cap and armed with a bunch of flowers and a snap of the Queen and Duke.
He said: “I shed a tear and raced down to the palace as soon as I heard the news.
“Prince Philip was an inspiration to his country, the Commonwealth and his Queen. He didn’t like a fuss but he deserves to have a fuss made over him.
A TWO-minute silence was held at the start of racing at Aintree yesterday.
Sam Twiston-Davies, right, joined other jockeys and trainers in tribute.
Prince Philip was an honorary member of the Jockey Club.
Today’s Grand National will go ahead after another two-minute silence at the Merseyside course.
Cricketers paid their respects yesterday and footie stars will don black armbands this weekend.
“We want to show the Queen we’re here for her. I’m going to light a candle for him at Westminster Abbey on Sunday.
“And I’m going to go to Windsor to lay flowers as well.”
The Duke’s old boarding school, Gordonstoun, also paid tribute.
Lisa Kerr, principal of the £40,000-per-year school in Moray, said: “He had an immensely strong character, combined with a unique sense of fun, infectious optimism and strong sense of duty. More than anything, he understood and was hugely supportive of Gordonstoun’s educational ethos, of not only fulfilling academic potential but also of developing life skills through experiences outside the classroom including sailing and community service.”
Following the news of the Duke’s death, Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham tweeted: “Prince Philip has been an ever-present in our lives at the side of the Queen.
“This is a sad day for us all. But we give thanks for his lifetime of service to our country and we send sincere condolences to the Queen and her family.”
Cllr James Jamieson, chairman of the Local Government Association, said: “On behalf of all councils across England and Wales, I’d like to express our sincere condolences to the whole Royal Family.
“Councils will be putting into place local arrangements to support the public in expressing their own sympathies, such as opening books of condolence, flags being flown at half-mast and the laying of flowers in public areas.”
A big fan of real ale
By James Somper
PRINCE Philip is known as a lover of real ale having got the taste for beer while in the Navy.
The Duke was a fan of ales from Windsor & Eton Brewery — serving up a Royal Warrant in 2018.
And Philip — below enjoying a pint at a brewery in Launceston, Cornwall, in 2000 — let them use barley from the Royal Farm in Windsor Great Park.
In 2013, he rejected wine at a Windsor Rugby Club lunch. He told club president Ian Potter: “Not that rubbish, can that barmaid get me a pint of Brakspears!”
An insider said: “The Queen likes a Dubonnet with a twist of lemon as a nightcap but Philip will more often than not have a bottle of real ale from his private cellar.
“He has been a big fan of the ales produced by Windsor & Eton Brewery.
“But when he is out and about, he will more often than not go for a beer rather than a wine or a spirit if it is on offer".”
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