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Queen left with ‘huge void’ in her life after Philip’s death – Andrew

Tony Jones, PA Court Correspondent
·6-min read

The Queen has described the death of her husband the Duke of Edinburgh as “having left a huge void in her life”.

The Duke of York revealed the personal feelings of his mother after attending a church service where members of the royal family said prayers for Philip as the nation remembered him.

Andrew described the death of his father as resonating with many people, saying: “We’ve lost almost the grandfather of the nation.”

His brother the Earl of Wessex said Philip’s death was a “dreadful shock” and the family was still “trying to come to terms with that”.

The Countess of Wessex candidly described the circumstances of Philip’s death as “very peaceful” when she chatted to a member of the congregation, saying it was if “somebody took him by the hand and off he went”.

Duke of Edinburgh death
The Earl and Countess of Wessex, with their daughter Lady Louise Windsor (Steve Parsons/PA)

Later, the Princess Royal paid her own tribute, describing her father as “my teacher, my supporter and my critic”.

Andrew said members of the family have been rallying round to support the Queen as she deals with the death of her partner of more than 70 years.

The Duke of York was joined at the Royal Chapel of All Saints at Royal Lodge, Windsor, by the Earl and Countess of Wessex and their daughter Lady Louise Windsor for a Sunday service.

Andrew said: “The Queen, as you would expect, is an incredibly stoic person.

“She described it as having left a huge void in her life but we, the family, the ones that are close, are rallying round to make sure that we’re there to support her.”

Sophie and Edward appeared visibly moved as they spoke about the Queen, with their daughter by their side, after the service.

Duke of Edinburgh death
The Duke of York (second left) talks with Crown Estate staff at the Royal Chapel of All Saints at Royal Lodge, Windsor (Steve Parsons/PA)

The Queen is “thinking of others before herself”, the countess said, and Edward added: “As always. But bearing up, and again it’s just that wave of affection for him 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.”

Their words were echoed by Andrew, who spoke separately from his brother and sister-in-law after the service, saying the family was grateful for all the “absolutely amazing tributes” to his father.

Andrew, who stepped down from royal duties over his friendship with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein in 2019, said of Philip: “He was a remarkable man.

“I loved him as a father. He was so calm. If you had a problem, he would think about it.

“That’s the great thing that I always think about, that he was always somebody you could go to and he would always listen so it’s a great loss.

“We’ve lost almost the grandfather of the nation. And I feel very sorry and supportive of my mother who’s feeling it probably more than everybody else.”

The monarchy is observing two weeks of royal mourning and the members of the family who attended church were dressed in black, with Andrew and Edward also wearing black ties.

The Queen has been receiving regular visits from her children since Philip died peacefully at Windsor Castle on Friday morning, two months before his 100th birthday.

Queen and Duke of Edinburgh
The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh in 2014 (PA)

Andrew said his father’s death had brought home how many people have been bereaved during the coronavirus outbreak.

He said: “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’.

“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.”

Looking sombre and reflective, the royal party spoke to workers from the Windsor estate and the congregation when they arrived at All Saints, which the Queen normally attends outside of lockdown.

The royals thanked everyone for their support particularly over the last few days.

When talking to a member of the congregation the countess said about Philip’s death: “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?

Duke of Edinburgh death
A young girl is directed where to place flowers outside Windsor Castle (PA)

“So, I think it’s so much easier for the person that goes than the people that are left behind.”

It is understood the Queen attended a private church service within Windsor Castle.

In a message released later on Sunday, Anne said it was her father’s “example of a life well lived and service freely given that I most wanted to emulate”.

“His ability to treat every person as an individual in their own right with their own skills comes through all the organisations with which he was involved,” she said.

She added: “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.”

Philip’s wishes are the driving force behind the funeral plans, and on Saturday his coffin will be transported from the castle to the chapel in a specially modified Land Rover he helped to design, followed by the prince of Wales and senior royals on foot.

The coffin will be covered with the duke’s personal standard together with his naval cap and sword and a wreath of flowers.

Only 30 people – expected to be his children, grandchildren and other close family – will attend as guests, but the Duchess of Sussex has been advised by her doctor not to travel to the UK for the funeral, a palace spokesman said.

All public elements of the funeral – to take place entirely in the grounds of the castle – have been cancelled, but it will be televised.

As the procession makes its way through the grounds of the castle, Charles will be joined by senior royals – but not the Queen – walking behind the coffin and followed by Philip’s household, including the most senior figure, his private secretary Brigadier Archie Miller-Bakewell.

The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby and David Conner, the Dean of Windsor, are expected to officiate at the service.

Edward said of his father’s death: “It’s been a bit of a shock. However much one tries to prepare oneself for something like this it’s still a dreadful shock. And we’re still trying to come to terms with that. And it’s very, very sad.

“But I have to say that the extraordinary tribute and the memories that everybody has had and been willing to share has been so fantastic.

“And it just goes to show, he might have been our father, grandfather, father-in-law, but he meant so much to so many other people.”