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AFP
April 11, 2021

Gun salutes fired across UK to mark Prince Philip’s death

World

AFP
April 11, 2021

LONDON: Gun salutes echoed around the United Kingdom on Saturday as the military paid solemn tribute to Queen Elizabeth II’s husband Prince Philip after his death aged 99.

Coordinated 41-round salutes to the former Royal Navy commander were fired at one round per minute from 12:00 (1100 GMT) in London, Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast, as well as at naval bases, from ships at sea, and in the British territory Gibraltar.

The number of shots fired -- the longest salute used according to military protocol -- has been fired in the past to mark the deaths of queen Victoria and wartime prime minister Winston Churchill.

Similar salutes were also held in Canberra and Wellington, as the queen is head of state in Australia and New Zealand.

Sporting events, including Premier League football matches and at English county championship cricket, held moments of silence as part of worldwide tributes to mark the death of the Duke of Edinburgh, during a period of national mourning.

The death of the duke, the longest serving royal consort in British history, on Friday is a profound loss for the 94-year-old monarch, who once described her husband of 73 years as her "strength and stay" throughout her long reign.

Flags are flying at half-mast on government buildings and will do so until the morning after his funeral, the date of which has yet to be announced.

A two-minute silence will be held ahead of Saturday’s Grand National, the country’s showpiece horse race.

The well-rehearsed protocol for the duke’s death -- codenamed "Forth Bridge" -- includes the recall of parliament on Monday.

British television stations cleared their schedules for special broadcasts looking back on his life, although the BBC said it had received complaints about the blanket coverage.

Westminster Abbey, where the couple married in 1947, tolled its tenor bell 99 times on Friday, once for each year of the prince’s life.

Political campaigning for May local elections stopped, and loyalist leaders in Northern Ireland, who have been rioting for days amid heightening political tensions in the British province, urged a pause in violence on Friday.

The call -- "as a mark of respect to the Queen" -- was largely heeded. Marches that had been planned by members of the pro-UK unionist community in Belfast were cancelled on Saturday.

But despite the calls for calm, some lower-level disorder continued overnight.

Philip -- who would have celebrated his 100th birthday in June -- had been ill for some time, and spent more than a month in hospital from February 16 being treated for a pre-existing heart condition and an infection.

Despite looking frail on his release from hospital on March 16, hopes were raised for his recovery.

But the queen announced Philip’s passing "with deep sorrow" after he died peacefully on Friday morning at Windsor Castle, west of London. In pre-recorded comments aired in a special BBC programme on Friday, Philip’s children reminisced about memories of their father, his long life and achievements.

"Well, you know he didn’t suffer fools. So if you said anything that was in any way ambiguous - he’d say ‘make up your mind!’" his eldest son and the queen’s heir, Prince Charles, said.

The queen and the duke’s two youngest children -- Prince Andrew and Prince Edward -- both visited Windsor Castle on Saturday morning. Prince Charles saw his mother was there on Friday.

Britain’s newspaper front pages on Saturday expressed an outpouring of grief, with The Sun tabloid running the headline "We’re all weeping with you Ma’am".

The Daily Mail splashed a picture of the queen looking at her husband along with the headline "Farewell, my beloved" on the front page of its 144-page souvenir edition.

Tributes came in from home and abroad, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson giving "thanks, as a nation and a kingdom, for the extraordinary life and work of Prince Philip".