Prince Philip’s kind gesture to staff in the final few months of his life
The Queen is “thinking of others before herself” after the Duke of Edinburgh’s death, the Countess of Wessex has revealed.
Sophie, who also described her as “amazing”, added that Prince Philip’s final moments were so peaceful it was “just like somebody took him by the hand and off he went”.
And speaking in public for the first time since his disastrous Newsnight interview in 2019, Prince Andrew called the Queen “incredibly stoic”.
Prince Edward added that their mother is “bearing up”.
His wife Sophie, 56, said her father-in-law’s death “was so gentle”.
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She added: “Very peaceful and that’s all you want for somebody, isn’t it?
“I think it’s so much easier for the person that goes than the people that are left behind.”
Asked how the Queen is, Sophie who has a very close bond with the monarch, said: “Thinking of others before herself – she’s amazing.”
Edward, 57, added: “Yes, as always – but bearing up. But again, that wave of affection for him and those lovely stories, they just mean so much and the tributes have been so fantastic and that’s really, really important and we really do appreciate it.”
He added: “However much one tries to prepare oneself for something like this, it’s still a dreadful shock and we are sort of trying to come to terms with that and it’s very, very sad.
“But the extraordinary… memories everybody has had and been willing to share has been fantastic.
“It just goes to show, he might have been our father, grandfather, father-in-law, but he meant so much to so many other people.”
The couple, who were joined by their daughter Lady Louise, 17, spoke after attending a service at the Royal Chapel of All Saints at the Royal Lodge in Windsor.
Prince Andrew, who was also at the service, revealed the Queen, 94, described Philip’s “passing as a miracle”.
Royal sources said Her Majesty meant she was thankful her husband made it back to Windsor Castle to die in his bed, with her by his side, after recently spending a month in hospital recovering from an infection and heart surgery.
Andrew, 61, said his mother is “feeling it more than everybody else”.
But he added “The Queen as you could expect is an incredibly stoic person and she described his passing as a miracle. And she is contemplating, is the way I’d put it.
“She described it as having left a huge void in her life.
“But we… the ones who are closer, are rallying round to make sure we are there to support her and I know there is a huge amount of support, not just for her, but for everybody as we go through this enormous change.”
Andrew stepped back from public life after the backlash from his Newsnight interview about his friendship with paedophile Jeffrey Epstein.
The Duke of Edinburgh, who died on Friday morning aged 99 after 73 years of marriage to the Queen, got on well with staff and locals on the Windsor estate, Sophie said.
She added: “He always exchanged words with everybody because it didn’t matter what anybody was doing in and around the estate here and everywhere else, they all meant a lot to him and he always took a personal interest in everything they were doing.
“So they have all got stories to tell and most of them are quite funny.”
Edward said: “He went carriage riding round here on a regular basis, but he would go to places that are quite all over the place.”
Sophie interjected by saying: “And got pulled out of a few ditches round here I seem to remember as well.”
With a smile, Edward said: “Oh well, in the early days yes he would have a few problems.”
Sophie cheekily added: “And more recently too.”
She also revealed that with so many memories of Philip being shared around the world the family are discovering new details about his remarkable life of service.
Sophie said: “I think it’s so lovely for so many people to learn about what he did and how intrinsic he was to every element of society and it’s just lovely.
“I have heard things which I didn’t even know as well, so for many people they’ll have been learning a lot about him, which I think is important.”
People continued to lay floral tributes at the castle today while flags have stayed at half mast in places as far afield as Sydney in Australia.
Sports stars have also paid their respects, including at yesterday’s Premier League football games.
The Queen prayed privately in Windsor Castle yesterday, but not in the private chapel where Prince Philip’s coffin is resting.
The Duke had been in isolation on the Windsor estate during the coronavirus crisis for the past year.
He was in a bubble alongside the Queen and a small number of staff.
The Duke will be laid to rest on Saturday at 3pm with a congregation of just 30 mourners of close family owing to Covid restrictions.
Prince Harry, 36, was last night understood to have returned to the UK for the first time since he quit royal life in March last year to set up home in California with his wife Meghan, 39, and their son Archie.
William, 38, and Harry – whose relationship has collapsed in recent years – are due to walk together behind the coffin, in a scene reminiscent of their mother Diana’s funeral in 1997.
The brothers were joined back then by Prince Charles and Prince Philip.
Harry and Andrew will wear suits to the duke’s funeral. Charles, 72, and William will wear military uniforms.
Harry was stripped of his role as Captain General of the Royal Marines this year after he said he would not be resuming royal duties.
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