Somber mood at Buckingham Palace as crowds pay tribute to U.K.'s Prince Philip

LONDON – Flowers piled up, the Union Jack flew half-staffed and in the dappled sunshine outside London’s Buckingham Palace, people gathered to pay their respects to Prince Philip, husband of Queen Elizabeth II, who died early Friday.

As the news of his death spread, more came on foot and by bike. The mood was gloomy as some read the royal note on the palace railing announcing his death.

“I’m so sad that the Queen will lose someone if you’ve been together for so long,” said Emma Bedford, 42, who had come to plant flowers with her daughter Evie, 5, thick and thin. Relationships go through ups and downs but he really was a stone to her. “

Emma Bedford, 42, came to lay flowers against the palace railing with her five-year-old daughter Evie.Saphora Smith / NBC News

Others agreed with this view.

“We always look at the queen and think she’s so strong, but that has been a big part of her life,” said Hafsa Sharif, 29, adding that she “took a moment” to look at herself To remind Philip.

Caroline Sharma, 57, also noted that the Duke of Edinburgh played second fiddle to his wife when it was uncommon for a woman to be the more prominent member of a couple.

“It must have been difficult for a man in the 1950s,” she said.

After their marriage in 1947, Philip publicly and privately supported the Queen for more than 70 years. Over the years, she recognized how important their relationship was to her and called him her “strength and residency” in a speech on her 50th wedding anniversary.

John Coverdale, 30, rode his bike on his lunch break to witness the defining moment in Britain’s national life.Saphora Smith / NBC News

Philip also made it clear where his loyalty rests in a 2011 interview with UK broadcaster ITV when he explained why he was giving up his active sea career. “When I was married to the queen, it seemed my first duty to serve her as well as possible,” he said.

Their decades of mutual commitment were commended when she paid her respects by Cindy Tallefson, a Colorado-born educator who currently lives in London.

“As an American it’s a little different, but guess what? I just have tears in my eyes. It’s really sad,” said the 62-year-old Tallefson.

Others said Philip humanized the royal family with his sense of fun and wit.

“He seemed like a funny face from the monarchy,” said John Coverdale, 30, who drove from west London on his lunch break to witness the historic moment. “The monarchy as an institution is quite formal, but even in that, he could share a joke with the people,” he added.

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Those outside Buckingham Palace mentioned his controversial comments Friday, some of which were deemed racist or insensitive, and at times drew unwanted attention to the royal family.

Instead, people focused on his mischievous personality, while others pointed out that his death reminded people that members of the royal family are human too.

Regarding the fact that Prince Harry could not have personally said goodbye to his grandfather, Tallefson said that families around the world had to say goodbye to loved ones remotely during the Covid-19 pandemic and are now The Royal Family like all others. “

The cause of Philip’s death was not disclosed, but he was admitted to a London hospital in February and last month Buckingham Palace announced that he had undergone successful medical procedure for a heart condition. He later returned to Windsor Castle, some 30 miles west of London.

Back at Buckingham Palace, several people noted on Friday that his death came at a particularly difficult time not only for the UK but also for the world as many people around the world mourn loved ones who had died from the coronavirus.

“I think this will be a focus for people who have lost and suffered,” said Elizabeth Holmes, 54, a retired teacher. “They will almost see this as catharsis to their own grief.”

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