Britain mourns Prince Philip but 'no flowers please' due to COVID


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© Reuters. Britain mourns the death of Prince Philip

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By Ben Makori and William James

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain was mourning Prince Philip who died on Friday but people were asked not to gather in crowds or to lay flowers at royal palaces due to distancing guidelines imposed to stem the spread of coronavirus.

Philip, Queen Elizabeth’s husband who helped modernise the monarchy and steer the British royal family through repeated crises during seven decades of service, died on Friday at Windsor Castle. He was 99.

“It’s just a really sad moment,” London resident Victoria Hasler told Reuters. “We’d known he’d been ill for quite a long time and it’s just really sad. And we’re just really sorry to the royal family for their sad news.”

As news broke of Philip’s death, radio and television broadcasts were interrupted with the national anthem “God Save The Queen”.

Union flags were half-masted at all royal residences and British government building. Tributes to Philip were flashed up at Piccadilly Circus and poured in from across the world for the World War Two navy veteran.

“Very sad news. He’s a lovely guy and very sad for the monarchy,” Adam Carr, a London resident, told Reuters.

Philip’s sharp wit and dedication to his duty earned him widespread popularity in Britain, but he was also criticised for off-the-cuff racist and sexist remarks.

Some people laid flowers beside a British flag outside Buckingham Palace and at the ancient walls of Windsor Castle, though the government urged people not to bring flowers to royal residences.

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“With the safety and wellbeing of the public in mind, and in accordance with government guidelines, members of the public are asked not to gather in crowds,” Buckingham Palace said.

“Those wishing to express their condolences are asked to do so in the safest way possible, and not to gather at Royal Residences.”

A Cabinet Office spokesman requested that “floral tributes should not be laid at Royal Residences at this time.”

The funeral arrangements for Philip, who always dismissed unnecessary pomp during his lifetime, are yet to be confirmed by Elizabeth who remains at Windsor Castle.

“Modified funeral and ceremonial arrangements for His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh are being considered by Her Majesty The Queen,” the Palace said. “Details will be confirmed in due course.”

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