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9 April 2021

Prince Philip: Reactions and Tributes

The Duke of Edinburgh and husband of Queen Elizabeth II has died aged 99.  

By New Statesman

The death of His Royal Highness Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, aged 99, has sparked tributes and condolence messages from public figures across the UK and around the world. 

A number of common themes stand out among the reactions. Particularly notable is sympathy for Queen Elizabeth II, his married partner of 73 years, who once described the Duke of Edinburgh as her “strength and stay”. Also prominent is praise for his establishment, in 1956, of The Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme for young people, which has since become the primary youth achievement award scheme in the world.

The Duke of Edinburgh’s distinguished military service during the Second World War was also recalled by a number of political figures who had spent time with him during royal occasions and tours. As were his charm, affability and faculty for making people from all walks of life feel welcome and at ease.

The below is a selection of extracts from these commemorations.

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Boris Johnson, Prime Minister:

“He was an environmentalist, and a champion of the natural world long before it was fashionable.
“With his Duke of Edinburgh awards 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.
“We remember the duke for all of this and above all for his steadfast support for Her Majesty the Queen.
“Not just as her consort, by her side every day of her reign, but as her husband, her ‘strength and stay’, of more than 70 years.”

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Keir Starmer, leader of the Labour Party:

“The United Kingdom has lost an extraordinary public servant in Prince Philip.
“Prince Philip dedicated his life to our country – from a distinguished career in the Royal Navy during the Second World War to his decades of service as the Duke of Edinburgh.
“However, he will be remembered most of all for his extraordinary commitment and devotion to The Queen.
“For more than seven decades, he has been at her side. Their marriage has been a symbol of strength, stability and hope, even as the world around them changed – most recently during the pandemic. It was a partnership that inspired millions in Britain and beyond.
“My thoughts are with The Queen, the Royal Family and the British people as our nation comes together to mourn and remember the life of Prince Philip.”

Ed Davey, leader of the Liberal Democrats:

“His quiet and steadfast counsel and support of the Queen is perhaps his greatest if unquantifiable contribution to our nation’s history.”

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Tony Blair, former leader of the Labour Party:

“Our whole nation will be united in sadness at the passing of Prince Philip. He will naturally be most recognised as a remarkable and steadfast support to the Queen over so many years. However, he should also be remembered and celebrated in his own right as a man of foresight, determination and courage.”

David Cameron, former leader of the Conservative Party:

“He showed true true dedication to our country, with unstinting service stretching back to his courageous naval duty in the Second World War. He was a huge part of our national life since long before most of us were born.”

Sir John Major, former leader of the Conservative Party:

“A distinguished naval officer, he was – for over 70 years – the ballast to our Ship of State.
“Modest to the core, and hating any kind of fuss or bother, he epitomised the British spirit and remained true to himself right up to the very end.”

Theresa May, former leader of the Conservative Party:

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Arlene Foster, Northern Ireland’s First Minister: 

“I am deeply saddened by the news of the death of His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh. It is a sadness that I know will be shared by countless others in Northern Ireland and right across the world.
“He had a strong interest in Northern Ireland and I had the privilege of meeting him on a number of his many visits here.
“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.”

Michelle O’Neill, Northern Ireland’s Deputy First Minister:

“Over the past two decades there have been significant interventions by the British royal family to assist in the building of relationships between Britain and Ireland.
“It is appropriate that this contribution to the advancement of peace and reconciliation is rightly recognised.
“To all those of a unionist tradition and of British identity – those who value and cherish the royal family – I wish to acknowledge the sense of loss felt.”

Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s First Minister:

On behalf of the people of Scotland, I would like to express my deepest sympathy to Her Majesty The Queen and the rest of the Royal Family. Our thoughts are with them at this difficult time and their grief is shared by people across the country.
“The Duke of Edinburgh had deep and longstanding ties to Scotland, attending school here at Gordonstoun and regularly holidaying at Balmoral Castle.
“From his patronage of The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Scheme, to his close association with the University of Edinburgh as Chancellor for over fifty years and his commitments to countless charities and organisations, Prince Philip’s long contribution to public life in Scotland will leave a profound mark on its people.

Mark Drakeford, Wales’ First Minister:

“Incredibly sad to hear of the passing of HRH The Duke of Edinburgh. 
“He served the crown with selfless devotion and will be sorely missed by the people of Wales and the many organisations he supported.
“My condolences to Her Majesty the Queen and the family during this sad time.

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Michael D Higgins, President of Ireland:

“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.
“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.
“I recall with 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.”

Joe Biden, President of the United States:

“On behalf of all the people of the United States, we send our deepest condolences to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, the entire Royal Family, and all the people of the United Kingdom on the death of His Royal Highness Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh.
“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. 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 endeavors he shaped.
“Jill and I are keeping the Queen and Prince Philip’s children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren in our hearts during this time.”

Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany:

“The death of Prince Philip fills me with great sadness.
“His friendship for Germany, his straightforwardness and his sense of duty will remain unforgotten. All our thoughts are with H.M. Queen Elizabeth and the Royal Family.

Emmanuel Macron, President of France:

“I wish to express my sincere condolences to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, The Royal Family and the British people upon the death of His Royal Highness The Prince Philip who lived an exemplary life defined by bravery, a sense of duty and commitment to the youth and the environment.”

Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission:

“I am saddened to hear of the passing of His Royal Highness Prince Philip. 
“I would like to extend my sincere sympathy to Her Majesty The Queen, the Royal Family and the people of the United Kingdom on this very sad day.”

Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India:

“My thoughts are with the British people and the Royal Family on the passing away of HRH The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. He had a distinguished career in the military and was at the forefront of many community service initiatives. May his soul rest in peace.”

Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada:

Scott Morrison, Prime Minister of Australia:

“Prince Philip was no stranger to Australia, having visited our country on more than 20 occasions. Through his service to the Commonwealth he presided as patron or president of nearly 50 organisations in Australia.
“Australians send our love and deepest condolences to Her Majesty and all the royal family.”

Imran Khan, Prime Minister of Pakistan:

“My condolences on the demise of HRH Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. Britain has lost a wise elder who was imbued with a unique spirit of public service. His role in promoting Pakistan-UK relations will always be remembered.”

Benjamin Netanyahu, Prime Minister of Israel:

“Prince Philip was the consummate public servant and will be much missed in Israel and across the world.”

Nancy Pelosi, United States house speaker:

Vladimir Putin, President of Russia:

“He was rightly respected among the British public and bore international authority.”

Mark Rutte, Prime Minister of the Netherlands:

“Our thoughts and sympathy are with Britain’s Royal Family and the British people at this time of mourning.

Uhuru Kenyatta, President of Kenya:

“His Royal Highness Prince Philip has been a towering symbol of family values and the unity of the British people as well as the entire global community.”

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Robin Bevan, president of the National Education Union:

“…Those weekends and opportunities to serve through the Duke of Edinburgh awards scheme have transformed lives, young lives, given opportunities, given adventure, and that aspect of Prince Philip’s legacy is something we should pay due respect to.”

Justin Welby, 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.
“On the occasions when I met him, I was always struck by his obvious joy at life, his enquiring mind and his ability to communicate to people from every background and walk of life. He was a master at putting people at their ease and making them feel special.”