‘His legacy will live on’: Prince Philip mourners descend on Windsor despite requests to stay away

Tom Ambrose
·5-min read
<p>Hundreds of people visited Windsor to mark Prince Philip’s death today</p> (AP)

Hundreds of people visited Windsor to mark Prince Philip’s death today

(AP)

Mourners ignored pleas to stay away from Windsor, as hundreds descended on the town to pay their respects and lay flowers for Prince Philip.

The Royal Family and the government had told people to avoid visiting the royal estates, including Windsor Castle and Buckingham Palace, because of strict Covid restrictions.

But a steady stream of mourners, some who said they were determined to “show support for the Queen”, ignored official advice to mark the Duke of Edinburgh’s death in their own homes.

Irene Orphanides set off from Bedfordshire early this morning to beat the crowds and said she felt it “important” to pay respect in person.

She said: “He was such an amazing man, a lot of people don’t realise what he did in life - I think it’s really important people are finding that out now.

“He was a family man and there has been lots of bad press about him in the past, which is really sad.

“They [the Royal Family] do tend to keep themselves to themselves and don’t always get to say what they are really thinking and that’s sometimes balanced by the British public not knowing the full stories.”

Irene Orphanides travelled to Windsor from BedfordshireTom Ambrose
Irene Orphanides travelled to Windsor from BedfordshireTom Ambrose

But for some locals, it was frustrating to see hordes of people ignore the requests to stay away because of the pandemic.

“I think it’s a bit weird for people to come to Windsor when it’s in the middle of a pandemic and if you’ve got someone at home who is shielding, I find that bizarre but people will do what they want, won’t they?”, said dog walker Annabel Mary, from Windsor.

The atmosphere was sombre and the scene far from the hustle and bustle we have come to expect from royal events in Windsor in recent years.

On an overcast and dank day in the Berkshire town, a modest but socially distanced crowd gathered by the palace’s gates by The Long Walk to set down flowers and reflect.

For Melissa Moran, a former tickets and tours worker at Windsor Castle, it was important to bring her daughter Mia from nearby Eton Wick to “be part of history”.

She said: “I used to work in the castle and I met Philip quite a lot of times at royal engagements parties and things.

“I think he’s such a lovely man and I just want to give my daughter a bit of that history as well.

“I have a lot of written notes from Philip and the Queen, from Christmas presents, so when I hand it down to my daughter I want her to kind of be part of it all.”

Melissa Moran with her daughter Mia on The Long WalkTom Ambrose
Melissa Moran with her daughter Mia on The Long WalkTom Ambrose

Many of those who arrived early in the morning to avoid crowds found themselves outnumbered by the world’s media and film crews.

As the day wore on, more people filed into the town - some carrying flowers with handwritten cards attached, while others donned iconic beefeater hats and waved flags.

Max Bingle, originally from South Africa but now living in Burnham, said: “When somebody loses a loved one, it’s always good to show a mark of respect, I think that’s just how people are.

“In these times when we can’t have that continuity of being together, I think people still wanted to come out to show their respect to the Royal Family and the Queen herself.

“Prince Philip has been a global icon so it will make a huge difference - he was always supportive of charities, such as the WWF.

“It’s quite sad he was so close to the milestone of 100 and not being able to reach it but, you know, life is not in our own hands.”

While many had nothing but warm words to say about the Duke, some were willing to acknowledge his more controversial comments - often shrugged off as gaffes by his fans, but sometimes branded sexist or racist by his critics.

Trevor Lewis paid respects to the duke with his wife TrudyTom Ambrose
Trevor Lewis paid respects to the duke with his wife TrudyTom Ambrose

Trevor Lewis, from Weybridge, added: “Well, I think he was a remarkable individual. Obviously controversial, at times, but on the whole well-regarded.

“I think he probably did a lot behind the scenes that he isn’t recognised for.”

Mourners were warned there would be no scenes of flowers piling up outside the castle, with royal staff planning to bring them inside at regular intervals.

However, one guard told The Independent flowers would only need to be removed once a day, in the evening once crowds had gone home.

James Moyle, from Windsor, said he thought it was the “right thing” to come and pay his respects to Prince Philip the day after his death.

Floral tributes left by the public outside Windsor CastleTom Ambrose
Floral tributes left by the public outside Windsor CastleTom Ambrose

He said: “We live in town and just thought what a great life the Duke has lived and [coming here today] is the right thing to do really.

“We’ve grown up thinking of him as a certain age but you will have different people from different generations remembering him as well - it will be very strange now but I don’t think he would want a fuss.

“I did the Duke of Edinburgh award at school when I was 15, it was a really good thing to do and enjoyed that.”

A sign at Windsor and Eton Riverside station todayTom Ambrose
A sign at Windsor and Eton Riverside station todayTom Ambrose

His wife Leanne Moyle added: “I just felt it important to mark the occasion and it’s lovely seeing the television programmes last night all the things he’s done.

“To be fair, it’s always hectic on the weekend along here but people are doing it in a respectful way, if people want to do it, it’s a great opportunity to.”

For some fans of the Royal Family, Prince Philip’s death signals the beginning of the end of an era, as younger royals start to take centre stage.

Chris Ireland said Prince Philip’s legacy ‘will live on’Tom Ambrose
Chris Ireland said Prince Philip’s legacy ‘will live on’Tom Ambrose

Wendy Farmilowe, from Windsor, told The Independent: “As locals, the Royal Family are part of the community - they’ve been here together throughout lockdown and they make Windsor, really.

“The Queen will probably carry on, it’s a life of service for her but if she chose to retire, then good luck to her, she does deserve it.”

For others, the Duke’s work and influence will outlive his 99 years of age and 73 years of marriage, by the Queen’s side.

“He was always there and I think the influence he has had over the nation and the Royal Family will continue,” said Chris Ireland, from Dorking. “His legacy will live on.”

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