Sophie, Countess of Wessex, has described Price Philip’s death as ‘so gentle,’ saying ‘it’s just like someone took him by the hand and off he went.’
Sophie was among those attending a Sunday service at the Royal Chapel of All Saints at Royal Lodge in Windsor today.
The service comes two days after Prince Philip died aged 99.
‘You know it’s going to happen but when it happens it’s just this massive, massive hole,’ Sophie told a group of three mourners outside the chapel.
‘It was so gentle, it was just like someone took him by the hand and off he went. Very, very peaceful and that’s all you want with somebody isn’t it?
‘I think it’s so much easier for the person that goes than the people left behind, we’re all sitting here looking at each other going “This is awful,”‘ Sophie said.
She added that all the tributes that had come for Philip had been ‘amazing’ especially considering the restrictions of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Sophie, Countess of Wessex (right), has described Price Philip’s death as ‘so gentle,’ saying ‘it’s just like someone took him by the hand and off he went.’ Sophie was among those attending a Sunday service at the Royal Chapel of All Saints at Royal Lodge in Windsor today
Sophie (right) also joined her husband Prince Edward (left) and daughter Lady Louise Windsor (centre) to speak to the media outside the chapel
Sophie also joined her husband Prince Edward and daughter Lady Louise Windsor to speak to the media outside the chapel.
‘It’s been a bit of a shock. However one tries to prepare oneself for something like this, it’s still a dreadful shock and we’re sort of trying to come to terms with that,’ Edward told ITV.
‘It’s very, very, sad, but I have to say, the extraordinary tributes and the memories that everybody’s 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.
Prince Philip died peacefully in his sleep at Windsor Castle on Friday, two months before his 100th birthday, leaving the Queen and the royal family ‘mourning his loss’
‘And just being here this morning with everybody from Windsor Great Park and he was a ranger here for, I think, more years than any other ranger and he means so much to so many people here and it’s the same for those who lived and worked at Balmoral and Sandringham.
‘For all those past and present, he means a huge huge amount to them … they all have their own personal memories and stories and our hearts go out to all of them as well,’ Edward said.
‘He always exchanged words with everybody because it didn’t matter what anybody was doing in and around the estate, here and everywhere else, they all meant a lot to him and he always took a very personal interest in everything that they were doing. So they’ve all got stories to tell and most of them are quite funny as well’ Sophie added.
Prince Andrew was also in attendance at the service and said the Queen had described the loss of her husband as ‘having left a huge void in her life’.
Andrew said the Queen is ‘an incredibly stoic person’, but said Philip’s death had left her grieving and ‘she is feeling it more than anyone’.
He said: ‘She described his passing as a miracle and she’s contemplating, I think is the way that I would put it.
‘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.’
Andrew added of his father: ‘He was a remarkable man. I loved him as a father. He was so calm. He was always someone you could go to. We have lost the grandfather of the nation.’
Prince Andrew was also in attendance at the service and said the Queen had described the loss of her husband as ‘having left a huge void in her life’. Pictured: Prince Andrew (right) with Sophie on Sunday
The Duke of York, who stepped down from royal duties amid the scandal over his friendship with convicted paedophile Jeffrey Epstein, also said today: ‘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.
‘And so, we are all in the same boat – slightly different circumstances because he didn’t die from Covid, but we’re all feeling a great sense of loss.’
Prince Philip died peacefully in his sleep at Windsor Castle on Friday, two months before his 100th birthday, leaving the Queen and the royal family ‘mourning his loss’.
Canon Martin Poll, chaplain to Windsor Great Park, greeted Edward, Sophie, their teenage daughter and Andrew before the service today.
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 following the duke’s death on Friday.
Philip’s funeral at St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle, next Saturday will be like no other royal funeral, with the Queen and her family wearing face masks and socially distancing as they gather to say their final farewell amid coronavirus restrictions.
Buckingham Palace announced yesterday that Prince Philip’s ceremonial royal funeral will take place on April 17 at St George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle, and a national minute’s silence will be observed as it begins at 3pm. The funeral service will be broadcast worldwide.
The Archbishop of Canterbury also led a solemn remembrance service for Prince Philip at Canterbury Cathedral today.
The Queen has described the loss of the Duke of Edinburgh (pictured with the Queen in 2007) as ‘having left a huge void in her life’, according to Prince Andrew
The Countess of Wessex, attends the Sunday service at the Royal Chapel of All Saints at Royal Lodge, Windsor, following Prince Philip’s death
The service started at 10.30am with Justin Welby paying tribute to the Duke of Edinburgh after his death on Friday morning.
It was a small, socially distanced gathering with the Queen represented by Lady Colgrain, the Lord-Lieutenant of Kent. Also in attendance was the High Sheriff of Kent, the Lord Mayor of Kent, the Sheriff of Canterbury and the chief executive of Canterbury.
Edward Elgar’s stirring Nimrod was played, the piece of music that accompanies many British funerals and memorial services and is played annually at the Cenotaph in London to mark the National Service of Remembrance.
A specially modified Land Rover, Naval procession and royal mourning: Prince Philip’s funeral details are released by palace
- 2.40pm: Coffin emerges from State Entrance of Windsor Castle
The duke’s coffin, accompanied by the Dean of Windsor and the Lord Chamberlain, will be moved to the State Entrance of Windsor Castle by a Bearer Party of The Queen’s Company, 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards.
The coffin will emerge and the Bearer Party will place it onto a specially modified Land Rover, which Philip helped to design, to transport it to St George’s Chapel.
- 2.45pm: The procession leaves for St George’s Chapel
The procession from the state entrance to the West Steps of the chapel will take eight minutes.
The Prince of Wales and members of the royal family will take part in the procession on foot, immediately behind the duke’s coffin, together with staff from Philip’s household.
The route of the procession will be lined by representatives drawn from the Royal Navy, the Royal Marines, the Highlanders, 4th Battalion Royal Regiment of Scotland and the Royal Air Force.
Minute guns will be fired by the King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery from the east lawn of Windsor Castle for the duration of the procession, and the Curfew Tower Bell will toll.
- 2.53pm: The Land Rover reaches the West Steps of the chapel
A Guard of Honour and Band from The Rifles will receive the coffin at the foot of the West Steps, with the national anthem being played as the coffin enters Horseshoe Cloister.
A bearing party of Royal Marines will carry the coffin up the steps and pause for the minute’s silence.
- 3.00pm: National minute of silence
Following the minute’s silence, the Dean of Windsor, together with the Archbishop of Canterbury, will receive the coffin at the top of the West Steps.
In keeping with coronavirus guidelines to limit guests inside the chapel, most of the procession will not enter the chapel, except for members of the royal family, and the duke’s private secretary Archie Miller Bakewell.
The funeral service will begin as the coffin enters St George’s Chapel.
In his sermon, the Archbishop said that the Duke of Edinburgh had a ‘remarkable willingness’ to ‘take the hand he was dealt in life’. However, he added that the Duke ‘would have been the first to harrumph strongly at over-spiritualisation of himself’.
The Reverend Canon Tim Naish spoke after the Archbishop and added: ‘We pray for all those who mourn Prince Philip’s death. We pray for comfort and strength for Elizabeth our Queen.’
Marking the third of eight days of national morning, people also gathered at royal palaces to leave flowers despite calls from the palace and the government to stay away to maintain social distancing guidelines.
Paying tribute to the late Duke at the special service today, Mr Welby said: ‘It is God who creates, God who calls, and God who sends. For His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh, there was a willingness, a remarkable willingness, to take the hand he was dealt in life, and straightforwardly to follow its call. To search its meaning, to go out and on as sent, to inquire and think, to trust and to pray.
He added: ‘For the royal family, as for every other, no words can reach into the depth of sorrow that goes into bereavement. We all know that it is not simply a factor of age or familiarity. It is not obliterated by the reality of a very long life remarkably led, nor is the predictability of death’s arrival a softening of the blow. Loss is loss.’
The archbishop urged prayers for the family and others who are grieving.
He said: ‘Our lives are not completed before death, but their eternity is prepared. So we can indeed pray that the Duke of Edinburgh may rest in peace and rise in glory. We may pray for comfort. We may pray and offer love for all who find that a great life leaves a very great gap.
‘For the royal family and the millions who have themselves suffered loss, we can know that the presence of Christ will bring peace, and the light of Christ will shine strongly, and it is in that light that we can strengthen one another with eternal hope.’
The Duke will be taken to St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle on a Land Rover he helped to design, and will be flanked by pall bearers from the Royal Marines, Regiments, Corps and Air Stations.
The decision to carry Philip in the custom-built car comes after he is said to have told the Queen: ‘Just stick me in the back of a Land Rover and drive me to Windsor.’
Immediately behind the Land Rover, the Prince of Wales and other members of the family, likely to be the Duke’s other children and some of his grandchildren including Harry and William, will proceed on foot.
Prince Harry will travel to the UK to be with his family for the service, but his pregnant wife Meghan will remain at their home in California after being advised not to travel by her doctor.
Official royal mourning will then take place for two weeks after the funeral.
Only 30 people – expected to be the Duke’s children, grandchildren and other close family – will attend as guests.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson will not be among guests, having stepped aside to allow for the attendance of as many family members as possible during coronavirus restrictions, No 10 said last night.
The Land Rover’s poignant role in the funeral proceedings always formed part of Operation Forth Bridge – the codename given to the plans following Philip’s death.
A senior Palace official said: ‘The Duke of Edinburgh had a hand many years ago in the design of these vehicles.’ The official added that there were two Land Rovers for ‘belt and braces’.
The Queen has approved the Prime Minister’s recommendation of national mourning, which began on April 9 and runs until and including the day of the funeral.
Originally 800 people would have been due to gather to pay their respects to the nation’s longest serving consort, but Philip is known to have wanted a low key affair.
The first guest confirmed by the palace was the duke’s long-standing close aide, his private secretary Brigadier Archie Miller Bakewell, who will be one of the few, and possibly only, non-royals invited to attend.
Brigadier Miller Bakewell had been the Duke’s right hand man for 11 years, taking on the role in 2010.
And brothers William and Harry are expected to stand ‘shoulder to shoulder’ a they come together for the first time since Harry’s bombshell Oprah interview.
All public elements of the funeral have been cancelled, and it will be televised but take place entirely in the grounds of the castle, the Palace said.
The Queen has decided the royal family will enter two weeks of royal mourning, and engagements will continue appropriate to the circumstances, a senior royal official said.