Prince Philip, the husband of Queen Elizabeth who played a leading figure in the British royal family for almost seven decades, has died aged 99, Buckingham Palace said on Friday.
The Duke of Edinburgh, as he was officially known, had been by his wife’s side throughout her 69-year reign, the longest in British history, during which time he earned a reputation for a tough, no-nonsense attitude and a propensity for occasional gaffes.
“It is with deep sorrow that Her Majesty The Queen announces the death of her beloved husband, His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh,” the palace said in a statement.
“His Royal Highness passed away peacefully this morning at Windsor Castle. Further announcements will be made in due course. The Royal Family join with people around the world in mourning his loss.”
A Greek prince, he married Elizabeth in 1947 playing a key role in modernising the monarchy in the post-World War Two period, and behind the walls of Buckingham Palace being the one key figure the queen could turn to and trust.
“He has, quite simply, been my strength and stay all these years,” Elizabeth said in a rare personal tribute to Philip made in a speech marking their 50th wedding anniversary in 1997.
Philip spent four weeks in hospital earlier this year for treatment for an infection to have a heart procedure, but returned to Windsor in early March.
His charm and disinclination to tolerate those he regarded as foolish or sycophantic earned him a position of respect among some Britons. But to others, his sometimes brusque demeanor made appear him rude, aloof and a delight to newspaper editors, keen to pick up on any stray remark at official events.
The former naval officer admitted he found it hard to give up the military career he loved and to take on the job as the monarch’s consort for which there was no clear-cut constitutional role.