Buckingham Palace mourners hail Philip as a ‘fantastic ambassador for Britain’

Tom Pilgrim, PA
·4-min read

Mourners paying their respects to the Duke of Edinburgh outside Buckingham Palace have hailed him as a “fantastic ambassador for Britain” and “an inspiration for generations”.

A steady stream of hundreds of people continued to arrive outside the palace gates on Friday night to add their tributes to a growing pile of flowers and messages – despite an official message not to do so.

Some left bouquets and garlands, others placed cards, while some mourners left photos of Philip and even bottles of Cognac.

Security guards funnelled members of the public along a narrow roped off area by the palace’s railings, encouraging them to lay their flowers, take photos and then move on.

A Royal Parks sign placed nearby said “you are kindly requested not to leave tributes, artefacts or candles at this location”, with a warning that these would be regularly removed.

Lindsay Hettrick, 55, from north London, who arrived clutching a bunch of flowers, said Philip’s death was “very upsetting”, adding that she had a “great deal of respect” for the duke and the Queen.

She added: “I just wanted to let the Royal Family know that as a British person I’m very sad for their loss.

“I think he was a fantastic person, incredibly strong personality. He was very much of his generation, very stoical, not complaining, had huge amount of grit.”

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Floral tributes are left outside Buckingham Palace (Yui Mok/PA)

Ms Hettrick said Philip was “a fantastic husband to the Queen”, a “great head of the family” and “a fantastic ambassador for Britain”.

“He led by example,” she said, adding that he had a “great sense of humour”.

“He’s been with me my entire life and I’ve seen him on several occasions and I just think he was a real force for good and somebody who commanded respect rather than demanded it,” she said.

Earlier in the day, after several visitors queued to view a notice announcing Philip’s death, royal staff removed it so that it would not encourage a large crowd at the gate in breach of coronavirus safety regulations.

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A sign outside Buckingham Palace (Yui Mok/PA)

Members of the public were told to wear a mask and line up behind a barrier to view the sign in the hour before it was removed.

The Government later urged people not to gather at Buckingham Palace or Windsor Castle in breach of coronavirus regulations.

Also laying flowers at the palace, where the Union flag flew at half mast, were couple Lawrence Hunt, 55, and Sarah Lee, 56, from west London, who hailed Philip as “inspirational”.

Mr Hunt said: “The Royal Family have had a very turbulent time lately and he’s probably been a real rock for the Queen, so I think sadness is probably the overwhelming emotion.”

Ms Lee added: “I think he’s been an inspiration for generations. I work in schools and I think what he’s done with outward bounds and the Duke of Edinburgh Award, I think that is a lasting legacy.”

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The Union flag flies at half mast over Buckingham Palace (Yui Mok/PA)

She said the duke was “a great man” who was “very modest, very self-effacing, but a huge character”.

Mr Hunt said the pair wanted to show support for the Queen who he felt has “had a really tough time with various things going on with her children and Covid”.

Referring to the duke and the Queen, he added: “Those two have been just solid through decades and decades of British history and I think we’re losing a great man.”

Linda Bern, 40, who recently moved to the London from Norway, came to lay flowers with her five-year-old daughter Charlotte and one-year-old son William.

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Royal superfan John Loughrey (left) outside Buckingham Palace (Luciana Guerra/PA)

She said felt “so sorry” for the Royal Family, adding that Philip was “a great man”.

She said the duke had been “good for England and good for the Queen and for the family”.

Gabriella Beirne, 63, and her daughter Christina Alexe, 42, both originally from Romania, said they had made London and the UK their home and the royal family was “part of our lives”.

Ms Beirne said of Philip: “I liked the way he talked, he spoke his mind. I appreciate people speaking their mind”.