Hundreds flock to Buckingham Palace to pay respects to Prince Philip - but people asked not to gather or lay flowers because of the pandemic

Barney Davis,Nicholas Cecil,Sophia Sleigh and Laura Parnaby
·5-min read
People gather outside Buckingham Palace (PA Wire)
People gather outside Buckingham Palace (PA Wire)

Crowds have flocked to the gates of Buckingham Palace to pay respects to the Duke of Edinburgh -but mourners have been asked to stay away from Royal residences because of the pandemic.

As the Union flag flew at half-mast on the palace, hundreds of people gathered to lay flowers for Philip, with one mourner saying they wanted to show “what the monarchy really means to people”. Others visited Windsor Castle to pay their respects.

But a Cabinet Office spokesperson said: “The sad death of HRH The Duke of Edinburgh has been announced by Buckingham Palace.

“Although this is an extraordinarily difficult time for many, we are asking the public not to gather at Royal Residences, and continue to follow public health advice particularly on avoiding meeting in large groups and on minimising travel.“

“We are supporting the Royal Household in asking that floral tributes should not be laid at Royal Residences at this time.”

Visitors to Buckingham Palace read the framed plaque palace staff had placed on the gates announcing his death on Friday.

After several visitors queued to view the plaque, royal staff removed it so that it would not encourage a large congregation at the gate in breach of coronavirus safety regulations.

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.

PA Wire
PA Wire

Maximilien Roesner, 24, who works for a manufacturer of medical equipment and PPE in London said he was “absolutely saddened” to hear about Philip’s death, but added the crowd at the palace gates “shows what the monarchy really means to people”.

Mr Roesner, who laid a large bouquet of red roses beside the front gates, said: “I’m absolutely saddened, I think he was a true inspiration not only to his generation, but to our generation, to my generation, and it is a very sad day.

“He lived a life dedicated to service to the United Kingdom, and I think he is one the strongest men and a truly inspirational person.”

Mr Roesner, who is from Germany but lives in London, added: “The United Kingdom is represented so well by this family… and I think just looking here how many people are coming and how many people are saddened to hear the passing of Prince Philip just shows what the monarchy really means to people.”

George Colvin-Slee, 28, said Philip’s legacy will “loom large in our popular memories for many years to come”.

PA Wire
PA Wire

Mr Colvin-Slee, who came from his office on The Mall near the palace when he heard the news of the duke’s death, said: “It’s obviously a very sad day for the country and for the Commonwealth as well, a man who has dedicated his life to the service of the nation and I’m sure he will loom large in our popular memories for many years to come.

“He’s a very colourful figure in our national life, and we would be something less without him.

“But the royal family are very resilient, we’ve had many deaths of high-profile figures in the family before and I’m sure that they will continue on dutifully as they always have done.”

Elizabeth MacDonald, 41, who visited the palace with her two young children and husband, said: “I feel incredibly sad, I mean he’s 99, he’s had such a long life and I feel really sad for their partnership.

“I think people will be really sad for the Queen, that she’s lost him and I think as a whole there will be some worry about the monarchy and what happens to it from this point on.

“I was just saying to my children, the last time a reigning monarch lost their partner was Queen Victoria so it’s something they won’t necessarily see again in their lifetime.”

PA Wire
PA Wire

Helen Snowdon, 59, expressed her condolences for the royal family and remembered the duke’s “very good sense of humour”.

Ms Snowdon, a housewife from Warwickshire who was visiting her daughter in London, said: “I felt really upset because they’re part of our history, so I just wanted to come down with my daughter and just pay our respects and lay some flowers.

“I feel very sad for the royal family and the Queen and my condolences go out to them.

“So yes this is a historical day because I think the Queen and the royal family are great for this country and Prince Philip has been a great support to the Queen for many years.

“I think a lot of the British public and people across the world do, so it’s good to pay our respects to him.

“He also was very funny, he had a very good sense of humour – he always made me laugh.”

Lucy Cotterell , 48, said: “This is a milestone in our history. He was a special man, when he became the consort and how men were perceived at the time. But the way he took a back seat to a woman, his wife, was a really big deal at the time.

“The way he did it with such grace was very impressive and says a lot about him.

“I know there were times when it was difficult but he always supported her. I’m sure she will be devastated he’s been a rock to her. But he managed to get home from hospital it’s what we would all want.”

Martin Plaut, 70, said: “He was a real character he wasn’t vanilla he had a real personality.

“I’m very saddened. I’m a South African and have received sanctuary here since the 1970s.

“I wanted to thank the Royal Family for what they’ve done.

“It is a sad moment for The Queen my heart goes out to her and her family. He was a solid husband to her. I respect him for everything he did.”

Shaika Mohammed, 14, said: “We came here to just honour him, by giving flowers to show we care about him and all the things he did.

“I would tell the Queen to stay strong, you got this and we will appreciate all the kind things he has done for this country.

“I’m very young but he meant quite a lot to us. He was a role model to us, he’s someone we can look up to and try our best to be like.”

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