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Archbishop says Philip ‘followed hand he was dealt’ and urges prayers for Queen

The Archbishop of Canterbury is leading a special remembrance service for the Duke of Edinburgh.

The service is being held at Canterbury Cathedral in Kent, two days after Prince Philip, 99, died peacefully in his sleep at Windsor Castle, Berkshire.

Speaking during Sunday morning’s service, Justin Welby said off the duke: “There was a willingness, a remarkable willingness to take the hand he was dealt in life and straightforwardly to follow its call.

“To search its meaning, to go out and on as sent, to inquire and think, to trust and to pray.”

Addressing the socially-distanced congregation and those watching on YouTube, he said: “For the Royal Family, as for every other, no words can reach into the depth of sorrow that goes into bereavement.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, leads a remembrance service for Prince Philip
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, leads the service of remembrance

“We all know that it is not simply a factor of age or familiarity. It is not obliterated by the reality of a very long life remarkably led, nor is the predictability of death’s arrival a softening of the blow.

“Loss is loss.”

The Archbishop urged prayers for the family and others who are grieving.

He said: “Our lives are not completed before death, but their eternity is prepared. So we can indeed pray that the Duke of Edinburgh may rest in peace and rise in glory.

“We may pray for comfort. We may pray and offer love for all who find that a great life leaves a very great gap.

Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh leaves King Edward VII's Hospital in central London
Prince Philip, 99, was last seen in public when he left a London hospital on March16

“For the Royal Family and the millions who have themselves suffered loss, we can know that the presence of Christ will bring peace, and the light of Christ will shine strongly, and it is in that light that we can strengthen one another with eternal hope.”

The Archbishop and David Conner, the Dean of Windsor, are expected to officiate at the duke’s funeral on April 17.

The Archbishop led an online memorial event at Lambeth Palace on Saturday evening, in which he remembered the duke as someone with a “deep and genuine sense of service and humility”.

He said: “It wasn’t ‘me, me, me’. It was about the world, about those he served, and in doing that his own role was more and more significant.

“He had a righteous impatience. He would not accept the status quo. If things were not right, he would say so and say so quickly, and clearly, and often bluntly.

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“Prince Philip, also though, had a deep and genuine sense of service and humility.”

The Archbishop described the duke as someone who “knew the talents he had and what he could bring, and he brought them 100%, at full throttle, right through his life”.

The UK is officially in a period of national mourning for the next week, up to and including Philip’s funeral on Saturday afternoon.

The royal service in St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle, will be like no other, with the Queen and her family wearing face masks and socially distancing as they gather to say their final farewell amid coronavirus restrictions.

Only 30 people – expected to be the duke’s four children, eight grandchildren and other close family – will attend as guests.

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Prince Harry, 36, will attend the televised service.

His pregnant wife Meghan Markle, 39, has been advised by her doctor not to travel to the UK for the funeral, a Palace spokesman said.

Mourners coming from outside England are required to self-isolate for the first full 10 days after they arrive, but are allowed to leave on compassionate grounds to attend a funeral of a close family member.

Harry, who is travelling from California, could be released from a 10-day Covid-19 quarantine if he gets a negative private test on day five under the Test to Release scheme.

Philip’s wishes are the driving force behind the funeral plans, and on the day his coffin will be transported from the castle to the chapel in a specially modified Land Rover he helped to design, and followed by Prince Charles and senior royals on foot.

The Prince of Wales has said the Royal Family are being helped through this “particularly sad time” by the public outpouring of support following the death of the “much-loved” duke.

Charles, 72, spoke movingly of his “dear Papa”, who he said had devoted himself to the Queen, his family and the country for some 70 years.

Speaking from his Gloucestershire home of Highgrove, Charles said his father had “given the most remarkable, devoted service to the Queen, to my family and to the country, but also to the whole of the Commonwealth”.

He added: “As you can imagine, my family and I miss my father enormously,” and said Philip would be “deeply touched” by the people around the world sharing “our loss and our sorrow”.

Charles said: “My dear Papa was a very special person who I think above all else would have been amazed by the reaction and the touching things that have been said about him, and from that point of view we are, my family, deeply grateful for all that.

“It will sustain us in this particular loss and at this particularly sad time.”



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