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British royals gather to pay tribute to Queen Elizabeth’s late husband

FILE PHOTO: Funeral of Britain's Prince Philip in Windsor
FILE PHOTO: Britain’s Queen Elizabeth is seen during the funeral of Britain’s Prince Philip, husband of Queen Elizabeth who died aged 99, at St George’s Chapel in Windsor, Britain on April 17, 2021. Yui Mok/Pool via REUTERS /File Photo

March 28, 2022

By Michael Holden

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s Queen Elizabeth could make her first public appearance in five months on Tuesday when the royal family and other dignitaries gather for a memorial service honoring her husband Prince Philip, who died last year.

Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, who was at his wife’s side for more than seven decades, died at their home at Windsor Castle in April, two months before his 100th birthday.

Strict coronavirus rules only allowed 30 mourners to attend his funeral service at the time, meaning the Queen sat poignantly alone as her 73-year-old husband was lowered into the royal vault of the castle’s St George’s Chapel.

Tuesday’s Thanksgiving service at London’s Westminster Abbey will be a much bigger event, with Buckingham Palace saying the 95-year-old Queen was actively involved in its planning.

The monarch herself has been forced to scale down her duties since spending a night in hospital with an unspecified illness last October and being advised to rest, and there have been concerns about her health after she has since had a number of planned canceled engagements.

A palace source said she hoped to attend the service, which would be her first public appearance since her illness.

The occasion will also mark the first public appearance of their second son Prince Andrew since he made an undisclosed payment to settle a US lawsuit alleging he allegedly sexually assaulted a young girl decades ago.

Joining him at the gathering will be other senior royals, foreign kings and queens, friends of the late Duke, politicians such as Prime Minister Boris Johnson, military officials and more than 500 representatives from charities and other organizations he has championed.

‘RARE SKILL’

“A man of rare ability and distinction, justly honored and celebrated, he has always diverted our attention from himself,” said David Hoyle, Dean of Westminster.

Philip, who married Elizabeth in 1947 at the Abbey, where she was also crowned six years later, helped his wife adapt the monarchy to the changing times of the post-World War II era, as the loss of the Empire and the decline in honor swept the world challenged the most prominent royal family.

On their golden wedding anniversary, she described Philip, who was known for his no-nonsense attitude and propensity for the occasional slip-up, as her “strength and endurance.”

In the absence of clear precedent, he had to carve out a role of his own and focused on helping young people through his Duke of Edinburgh Awards program and promoting environmental issues.

It was “a long life fully lived,” Hoyle will say.

The service to the life of the one-time royal modernizer comes as his grandson and future king Prince William, 38, also seeks to lead the monarchy into the future.

On Monday, three tabloids ran front-page articles, all citing an unnamed source who said William and his wife Kate want to “rip up the rule book” and do things differently after criticism that parts of their recent week-long Caribbean -Tour “Ton” appeared -deaf” and a reminiscence of the colonial era.

“It’s not a criticism of how it’s been done in the past. But times are changing,” the source was quoted as saying.

(Reporting by Michael Holden; Editing by Alex Richardson)

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Bobby Allyn

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