Gun salutes took place across the United Kingdom and in Commonwealth countries on Saturday in tribute to Prince Philip, Queen Elizabeth II’s husband for more than seven decades, who died on Friday at the age of 99.
The Duke of Edinburgh was the UK’s longest-ever serving consort, a term used for the husband or wife of a reigning monarch.
Saluting batteries fired 41 rounds, at one round per minute, at Windsor Castle where the duke died, as well as by the Tower of London in the capital and at Edinburgh Castle in Scotland, among other locations. Australia, a Commonwealth nation, also paid its respects with a gun salute outside Parliament House in the capital, Canberra, on Saturday morning.
The duke had recently spent a month in two London hospitals, undergoing heart surgery and treatment for an infection, before returning in mid-March to Windsor Castle.
The duke’s death will be marked in a somber fashion, as the royal household and UK government have asked the public not to gather or leave flowers at royal residences, as the country remains under strict Covid-19 restrictions.
The College of Arms, which oversees many ceremonial aspects of the royal family’s work, said in a statement Friday that the funeral would be held at St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle, in line with the duke’s wishes, and that he would not receive a state funeral or lie in state, which could have seen thousands of members of the public lining up to view his coffin.
An online book of condolence was launched on the royal family’s official website, as they joined the British government in asking that “members of the public consider making a donation to a charity instead of leaving floral tributes in memory of the Duke of Edinburgh.”
The bells of London’s Westminster Abbey, where Prince Philip married Queen Elizabeth more than 70 years ago, rang 99 times on Friday evening in his honour, while the British flag is flying at half-staff on government buildings.