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Britain's Prince Philip, husband of Queen Elizabeth II, dies aged 99

Britain's Prince Philip, husband of Queen Elizabeth II, dies aged 99

In this file photo dated Thursday, Mar 30, 2017, Britain's Prince Philip talks to sergeants from the 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards as he walks in their mess at Lille Barracks in Aldershot, England. (File photo: AP/Matt Dunham)

LONDON: Britain's Prince Philip, a constant presence at Queen Elizabeth II's side for decades, died on Friday (Apr 9) at age 99, Buckingham Palace announced.

The death of the Duke of Edinburgh is a profound loss for the 94-year-old monarch, who once described him as her "strength and stay all these years".

Queen Elizabeth announced his passing "with deep sorrow" after he died peacefully in the morning at Windsor Castle, west of London, the palace said in a statement.

"The Royal Family join with people around the world in mourning his loss," the statement said.

The Duke of Edinburgh, as he was officially known, was the longest-serving consort in British history. During that time he earned a reputation for a tough, no-nonsense attitude and a propensity for occasional gaffes.

He was admitted to hospital on Feb 16, 2021, and went home after a month during which he was treated for a pre-existing heart condition and an infection.

READ: Queen Elizabeth II's husband Prince Philip: The strength behind the crown

Announcing his passing, BBC television played the national anthem over a picture of Philip in his prime, dressed in military dress uniform.

Flags were lowered to half-mast on royal and government buildings and a notice announcing his death pinned to the gates of Buckingham Palace.

This photo dated Jul 10, 1947 shows the official photograph of Britain's Princess Elizabeth and her fiance, Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten in London. (File photo: AP) FILE - This file photo dated July 10, 1947 shows the official photograph of Britain's Princess Elizabeth and her fiance, Lieut. Philip Mountbatten in London. Buckingham Palace says Prince Philip, husband of Queen Elizabeth II, has died aged 99. (AP Photo/File)

Philip, who was by the queen's side for nearly eight decades, retired from public duties in 2017 at the age of 96.

His death came just months before his 100th birthday in June - an event typically marked in Britain with a congratulatory message from the queen, who is now Britain's longest-serving monarch.

The couple, who celebrated their 73rd wedding anniversary in November, had been living largely in isolation at Windsor Castle, west of London, because their advanced age put them at heightened risk from COVID-19.

They received their first vaccinations against the virus in January.

READ: UK PM hails Philip's 'extraordinary life' as tributes pour in

FEW PUBLIC APPEARANCES

Philip was no stranger to health issues.

He was previously fitted with a stent in 2011 after suffering from a blocked artery.

He also had a hip operation in 2018 and in January 2019, he emerged unscathed after his vehicle was involved in a traffic accident that injured two people near the monarch's Sandringham estate in eastern England.

The prince then spent four nights in hospital in December that year, receiving treatment for what was described as a "pre-existing condition".

He was discharged on Christmas Eve, in time to rejoin the rest of the royal family for the festive period.

Britain's Prince Philip, in his role as Captain General, Royal Marines, attends a parade to mark the finale of the 1664 Global Challenge, on the Buckingham Palace Forecourt, in central London, Britain, Aug 2, 2017. (File photo: REUTERS/Yui Mok)

Since the pandemic, Philip has made few public appearances.

He was last seen at a staged appearance at a military ceremony at Windsor Castle in July, days after attending the wedding ceremony of his granddaughter Princess Beatrice.

In November, he and the queen marked the latest anniversary of their 1947 nuptials by releasing a photograph of them together, again at Windsor.

Britain's Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh look at a homemade wedding anniversary card in the Oak Room at Windsor Castle, England, Nov 17, 2020, ahead of their 73rd wedding anniversary. (Photo: Chris Jackson/Pool via AP) Britain Royal Wedding Anniversary

Philip and the queen have four children - Charles, Anne, Andrew and Edward - eight grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren.

SHELVED PERSONAL AMBITIONS

Philip, the longest-serving consort in British history, was born on the island of Corfu with Danish and Greek royal titles.

He fled the country when he was just 18 months old with his parents and four sisters, after his uncle, king Constantine of Greece, was forced to abdicate.

The family initially settled in France.

Philip was formally introduced to princess Elizabeth, the future queen, in July 1939 and they kept in touch during the war, meeting on a number of occasions.

The pair married in Westminster Abbey in London in 1947.

A rising star in the British navy, Philip had reached the rank of commander by the time Elizabeth ascended to the throne in 1952. He eventually shelved his personal ambitions to support his wife in the role.

Over the ensuing decades he was involved in numerous charities, including the World Wildlife Fund For Nature and the Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme for young people.

Source: AFP/dv

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