Boris Johnson pays tribute to Prince Philip after Duke of Edinburgh’s death

Andrew Woodcock
·5-min read
 (BBC)
(BBC)

Prime minister Boris Johnson has paid tribute to the Duke of Edinburgh for his “steadfast support for Her Majesty the Queen … her strength and stay for more than 70 years”.

In a statement outside the door to 10 Downing Street, Mr Johnson hailed Prince Philip’s service in the Royal Navy during the Second World War, his work with young people through the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award scheme and the support he gave the Queen in maintaining the institution of the monarchy as a central part of British life.

But he also spoke of the Duke’s role as a husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather in a marriage which spanned more than seven decades.

“It is to Her Majesty, and her family, that our nation’s thoughts must turn today,” said the prime minister.

“Because they have lost not just a much-loved and highly respected public figure, but a devoted husband and a proud and loving father, grandfather and, in recent years, great-grandfather.

“Speaking on their golden wedding anniversary, Her Majesty said that our country owed her husband ‘a greater debt than he would ever claim or we shall ever know’ and I am sure that estimate is correct.

“So we mourn today with Her Majesty The Queen, we offer our condolences to her and to all her family and we give thanks, as a nation and a Kingdom, for the extraordinary life and work of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.”

Mr Johnson led a stream of tributes from leaders of UK political life to the Duke.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer hailed him as “an extraordinary public servant”, whose partnership with the Queen “inspired millions in Britain and beyond”.

“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,” said Starmer.

“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.”

Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon said she was “saddened” by news of Philip’s death, adding: “I send my personal and deepest condolences - and those of the Scottish Government and the people of Scotland - to Her Majesty The Queen and her family.”

Welsh first minister Mark Drakeford offered his condolences, saying of Prince Philip: “Throughout his long and distinguished life, he served the Crown with selfless devotion and generosity of spirit.”

London mayor Sadiq Khan said: “As mayor, I know I can say on behalf of all Londoners that we will forever be grateful for the contribution His Royal Highness made to our city and our country.

“There’s no doubt that the legacy of The Duke of Edinburgh’s positive impact on London, Britain and the lives of so many will live on for many years to come.”

The Speaker of the House of Commons, Sir Lindsay Hoyle said that Prince Philip had lived “a long life that saw so much dedication to duty”.

“Today we must pause to honour him and to offer our sincerest thanks for the Prince’s devout faithfulness to our country – and all the nations shall miss him greatly,” said Sir Lindsay.

Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey said his party was suspending national election campaigning in a mark of respect for the Duke.

“Prince Philip dedicated his life to our country,” said Sir Ed. “We will always be grateful for his amazing service.”

Former prime minister Tony Blair said: “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.

“He was often way ahead of his time in protection of the environment, in reconciliation between religious faiths and of course in the creation of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award which remains one of the most innovative and effective programmes for the betterment of young people anywhere in the world.”

Wearing a black tie, but with his hair uncombed, Mr Johnson said he had received the news of Prince Philip’s death from Buckingham Palace “with great sadness”.

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He said the Prince had “earned the affection of generations here in the United Kingdom, across the Commonwealth and around the world”, becoming the longest-serving consort in history and one of the last surviving people to have served in the Second World War.

The PM recalled his service in the naval battle of Cape Matapan in Greece in 1941, when he was mentioned in despatches for bravery, and in the invasion of Sicily in 1943, when “he saved his ship by his quick thinking”.

“From that conflict he took an ethic of service that he applied throughout the unprecedented changes of the post-war era,” said the PM.

“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.”

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Prince Philip was “an environmentalist, and a champion of the natural world long before it was fashionable”, said Mr Johnson.

With his Duke of Edinburgh awards scheme he “shaped and inspired the lives of countless young people… fostered their hopes and encouraged their ambitions”.

Mr Johnson said: “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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