The Queen was at Prince Philip’s bedside when he died at Windsor Castle and he spent his final days insisting on looking after himself, it is reported.
The Duke of Edinburgh is said to have refused to go back to hospital before he died “peacefully” in his sleep in his private apartment on Friday morning, just two months before his 100th birthday.
Britain’s longest-serving consort was discharged from a London hospital on March 16 after a month-long stay in which he underwent heart surgery and was treated for an infection.
It is said that he spent his final days with the Queen, 94, and his frail condition worsened overnight on Thursday, but the suggestion of taking him back to hospital was quickly dismissed by his wife.
Insiders told the Telegraph that Philip became “gravely ill” and was determined to die at home in Berkshire.
A source said: “He spent most of the four weeks he was in hospital trying to get home. They operated on his heart in a bid to give him a little longer, maybe with the 100th birthday in mind.
“But he didn’t really care about that. He just wanted to be back in his own bed.
“There is no way he would have wanted to die in hospital.”
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Sources said the duke had been able to see his four children – Prince Charles, Princess Anne, Prince Andrew and Prince Edward – in separate “super-distanced” meetings before his death thanks to all of them receiving a coronavirus vaccine.
But he was unable to see his grandchildren, including Prince William, and great-grandchildren, as they have not been vaccinated, sources added.
It is said the duke was frustrated by Covid restrictions which limited family visits and made nursing visits harder.
He was reportedly in “good form” just days before his death, spending his final days with his beloved wife ‘Lilibet’.
Earlier this week he was still reading and writing letters, and speaking to loved ones on the phone as he was not a fan of using Zoom, which he had used to stay in touch with grandson Prince Harry.
Sources told the Daily Mail that since his return from hospital the 99-year-old had been “calmer and quieter”, and was largely confined to his room.
He kept two framed photos by his bedside – one of his wife and one of his mother, it is claimed.
He was determined to the end that he would die in his own home, and mealtimes were changed so he could dine with the monarch whenever he felt well enough.
The Queen was heard saying that the duke refused to wear his hearing aid, and he declined to have a staff member pick up his glasses when he dropped them, doing it himself, it was reported.
Insiders claim he cancelled his 7.30am morning tea which would be delivered by a valet, and he had little appetite for the food sent up on a tray.
When he felt well enough he would sit in the sunshine with a blanket over his legs, after leaving his room dressed in a shirt and jumper, freshly pressed trousers and shoes.
With walking increasingly difficult, Prince Philip would use a stick, resisting a wheelchair when aides suggested it.
He would reportedly say: “Get that bloody thing out of my sight!”
An insider said: “When he came back to Windsor he said he was not going back to any hospital.
“No fuss was the constant refrain.”
Details of the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral are expected to be released this weekend.
Buckingham Palace said Philip died peacefully in his sleep at Windsor Castle, leaving the Queen and the royal family “mourning his loss”.
His death triggered a flood of tributes from across the globe – with world leaders, foreign royal families and charities hailing his life and legacy.
Philip’s funeral is expected to take place at St George’s Chapel in Windsor, but the ongoing Covid-19 lockdown in England will impact plans.
Under the current rules, services can only be attended by a maximum of 30 people.
Helping to draw up the details of the occasion himself, the duke was known to have wanted a minimum of fuss at his funeral.
It has long been known that it will be the Queen who has the final say over the plans to lay to rest her husband of more than 70 years.
Buckingham Palace has said: “During the coronavirus pandemic, and in light of current Government advice and social distancing guidelines, modified funeral and ceremonial arrangements for His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh are being considered by Her Majesty The Queen. Details will be confirmed in due course.”
An online book of condolence was opened on the royal family’s official website for the public to post personal tributes.
A steady stream of mourners left tributes and messages to the duke outside both Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle on Friday.
The Palace asked members of the public not to gather in crowds, saying: “Those wishing to express their condolences are asked to do so in the safest way possible, and not to gather at Royal Residences.”
The monarch may give a televised address in memory of her late husband – the longest-serving consort in British history – but details of any possible broadcast have yet to be confirmed.
Philip, famously described by the Queen as her “constant strength and guide”, passed away just two months before his 100th birthday.
Buckingham Palace announced his death just after midday on Friday, issuing a statement that spoke about the royal family joining with people across the world to grieve.
A man known as much for his keen interest in engineering and science as his outspoken comments and gaffes – he was central to the monarch’s life.
The palace said in a statement: “It is with deep sorrow that Her Majesty the Queen announces the death of her beloved husband, His Royal Highness the Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.
His Royal Highness passed away peacefully this morning at Windsor Castle.”
It added: “The Royal Family join with people around the world in mourning his loss.”
No further details were released about the circumstances of the duke’s death.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex paid tribute to Philip on the website of their foundation Archewell, replacing its homepage with a memorial site and the words: “In loving memory of His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh 1921-2021
“Thank you for your service… You will be greatly missed.”
Harry, who laid bare his rift with members of his family during his Oprah Winfrey interview, is likely to attend his grandfather’s funeral, but it is not known if he will be joined by wife Meghan – who is pregnant.
In a tribute recorded for ITV News before Philip’s death, the Princess Royal said about her father’s legacy: “Without him life will be completely different.
“But from society’s perspective he was able to keep pace with the kind of technological changes that have such an impact… but above all that it’s not about the technology it’s about the people.”
The Prince of Wales visited his mother the Queen during Friday afternoon travelling from his Gloucestershire home to Windsor Castle, sources said.
The announcement of Philip’s death reflected tradition and modern times, with the statement tweeted on the royal family account and a framed notice attached to the railings of Buckingham Palace for a short period.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson was one of the first national figures to pay tribute to the duke.
Speaking from Downing Street, Mr Johnson said the duke was “a champion of the natural world long before it was fashionable”.
He said Philip would be remembered for his Duke of Edinburgh awards scheme, that had “shaped and inspired the lives of countless young people”, as well as his “steadfast support” for the Queen.
US President Joe Biden highlighted the duke’s “decades of devoted public service”, Second World War service and environmental efforts in remembering his legacy.
During coronavirus lockdowns, Philip stayed at Windsor Castle with the Queen for their safety, alongside a reduced household of staff dubbed HMS Bubble.
The couple are thought to have spent more time together during the past 12 months, shielding from the virus, then they would in a normal year – a throwback to the early years of their marriage.
Union flags were flown at half mast at all royal residences as a mark of respect and Westminster Abbey – where the Queen and Philip married on November 20, 1947 – tolled its tenor bell once every 60 seconds, 99 times, during Friday evening.
A period of mourning is expected and any planned official royal events that fall within this period are likely to be postponed.
Tributes poured in from around the world, including from Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Irish Premier Micheal Martin, the Prime Minister of the Netherlands Mark Rutte, and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
European royal families remembered Philip as a “great friend” who “never ceased to leave an unforgettable impression”, with King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden hailing the duke as “an inspiration to us all”.
Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, said Philip was an “outstanding example of Christian service”, adding that he was “always struck by his obvious joy at life, his enquiring mind and his ability to communicate to people from every background and walk of life”.
The Cabinet met at 5pm on Friday to pay tribute to the duke, and Parliament will be recalled from its Easter recess on Monday, a day earlier than its scheduled return.
Philip – father to the Prince of Wales, the Princess Royal, the Duke of York and the Earl of Wessex – had returned to Windsor Castle on March 16 to be reunited with the Queen after spending a month in hospital – his longest ever stay.
He initially received care for an infection, but then underwent heart surgery for a pre-existing condition.