Britain mourns Prince Philip; leaders honor his service to queen

LONDON - World leaders and people on the street on Friday honored the life of Prince Philip, who served his wife, Queen Elizabeth II, and the British people, after learning of the death of a man who was at the center of public life longer than most lived.

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At Buckingham Palace, the Queen's London residence, citizens laid daffodils at the gate and the flag was lowered to half-mast. The BBC interrupted the broadcast of the national anthem "God Save the Queen".

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Philip, 99, "has earned the love of generations here in Britain, across the Commonwealth and around the world."

"We are a kingdom united in both grief and gratitude," Johnson said. "Grief at Prince Philip's passing and gratitude for decades of selfless service to thecountry"

Philip, who served in the Royal Navy during World War II, married the future queen in 1947 and maintained a packed schedule of public appearances until his retirement in 2017. He left the hospital on March 16, looking tired and haggard after treatment for an undisclosed infection and a heart condition.

Known for his sharp wit and devotion to the monarch, he had performed more than 20,000 royal duties to promote British interests both at home and abroad. He had also run hundreds of charities, organized outreach programs for British schoolchildren and helped raise four children, including the eldest son of Prince Charles, the heir to the throne.

U.S. President Joe Biden offered his condolences to the Queen "on behalf of the people of the United States."

"The impact of her decades of dedicated public service is evident in the worthy causes she lifted up as a patron, the environmental efforts she championed, the military she supported, the young people she inspired, and more," he said. His legacy will live on not only through his family, but in all the philanthropic endeavors he forged."

Shortly after the announcement of Philip's death, people lined up outside Buckingham Palace to see the official notice posted on the gates. It was removed soon after for fear that it would attract crowds, breaking the rules of social distancing during the COWID-19 pandemic.

The government later issued a statement asking people not to pick or leave flowers outside royal residences across the country to protect public health.

"The truth is, I'm thrilled to even be talking about it," said Louise Crook, 41, of London, near Buckingham Palace. "The news came as we were walking through Parliament Square and my daughter and I just said we should come here and just be near the palace - safe, obviously, with masks and everything else - and just be near the Royal Family today."

Across the country, others celebrated Philip's death in their own way.

The tenor bell at Westminster Abbey tolled 99 times to mark each year of the Duke of Edinburgh's life.

Two minutes of silence were observed at England's County Championship cricket matches and Grand National races.

The government has said official flags will fly at half-mast throughout the United Kingdom until after Philip's funeral.

Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, the most senior clergyman in the Church of England, thanked God for Philip's selfless service.

"As we recover and recover from the terrible ordeal of the coronavirus pandemic, we will need strength and a deep sense of commitment to serve others," Welby wrote. "Throughout his life, Prince Philip has shown these qualities in abundance, and I pray that we can draw inspiration from his example."

The royal families of Denmark, Monaco, the Netherlands, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates sent messages to the Queen. World leaders, including Australia's Scott Morrison, Israel's Benjamin Netanyahu, India's Narendra Modi and Canada's Justin Trudeau, also expressed their sadness.

Even Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has been at loggerheads with Britain over issues ranging from election interference to the poisoning of a former spy in England, sent a telegram of condolence to the Queen. The Russian embassy in London noted that Philip was a great-grandson of Tsar Nicholas I.

Philip was "justly respected among British and international authorities," Putin said.

The prince's fictional family also reached out to the queen. The team behind Netflix's popular royal drama "The Crown" said they were "deeply saddened" to learn of his death.

Robert Lacey, royal biographer and adviser to The Crown, told the BBC that Philip was the "secret ingredient" to the Queen's success.

"He was part of our lives, wasn't he?" said Lacey. "We all have to think of the Queen, of course, of whom he was an integral part of the life ... I wouldn't want to downplay the Queen's remarkable achievements during her reign, but many of her novel ideas and initiatives came from this remarkable man."

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