THE Queen is being greatly comforted by the public’s “wave of affection” following Prince Philip’s death as Parliament prepares to pay its own respects.
Prince Edward also said that Her Majesty was “bearing up” while his wife, Sophie, Countess of Wessex, candidly described the Duke of Edinburgh’s last moments as “very peaceful”, saying it was if “somebody took him by the hand and off he went”.
The couple were visibly moved after attending a church service in the grounds of Windsor Castle with their daughter Lady Louise Windsor, 17, where the Duke of York described Prince Philip, 99, as “the grandfather of the nation” and how his death had left “a huge void” in the Queen’s life.
Last night, Princess Anne hailed her father as “my teacher, my supporter and my critic” as she added her own thanks to the public’s response.
“I would like to emphasise how much the family appreciate the messages and memories of so many people whose lives he also touched. We will miss him but he leaves a legacy which can inspire us all,” she said.
The tributes preceded today’s recall of Parliament to allow Ministers, MPs and peers to recognise Prince Philip’s lifetime of service.
Preparations are continuing for a ceremonial funeral at Windsor this Saturday – attendance will be restricted to 30 mourners due to Covid rules – with former premier Sir John Major, a confidante of the Royal family, hoping that the Queen, as monarch, is given “time and space” to grieve.
Sir John said that there is now “an enormous hole” in the Queen’s life while also expressing a desire that the Royal’s loss can help the Duke of Cambridge heal his rift with his younger brother as the Duke of Sussex flies back to Britain from Los Angeles for the funeral.
The former PM was speaking as the Royal party, dressed in black, talked to workers from the Windsor estate after attending church at Royal Chapel of All Saints at Royal Lodge.
Looking sombre, the Duke of York said his family were even more aware of the suffering of all those who have lost loved ones during the Covid crisis.
“It’s a terrible loss. My father said to me on the telephone a few months ago, ‘We are all in the same boat and we must always remember that, but occasionally we, the family, are asked to stand up and show compassion and leadership’,” he said.
“And unfortunately, with my father’s death, it has brought it home to me, not just our loss, but actually the loss that everybody else has felt, for so many people who have died and lost loved ones during the pandemic.”
Meanwhile his younger brother, the Earl of Wessex, said the Queen, who attended a private service earlier in the day, was being comforted by a “wave of affection” that had been shown for Prince Philip and “just those lovely stories”.
“They just mean so much and the tributes have been just fantastic. That’s really, really important and we really do appreciate it,” he said.
Meanwhile the Countess of Wessex, who is particularly close to Her Majesty, was close to tears as she told a congregation member that the Queen is “thinking of others before herself”.
She went on to discuss Prince Philip’s final moments, adding: “It was right for him. It was so gentle. It was just like somebody took him by the hand and off he went. Very, very peaceful and that’s all you want for somebody isn’t it?
“So, I think it’s so much easier for the person that goes than the people that are left behind.”