Prince Philip: an 'outstanding example of Christian service'

The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh were married for 73 years.(Photo: Reuters)

Church leaders are praying for the royal family after the death of the Queen's husband, Prince Philip, at the age of 99. 

The Duke of Edinburgh died peacefully at Windsor Castle on Friday morning with the Queen by his side, having served faithfully as her husband for 73 years, and as consort from her accession to the throne in 1952.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, called him an "extraordinary" man who left an "enormous" legacy. 

"He consistently put the interests of others ahead of his own and, in so doing, provided an outstanding example of Christian service," he said. 

Speaking to BBC News, the Archbishop called the duke a "man of very profound faith" who had "an extraordinary prophetic gift".

"In so many areas he was decades ahead...on issues like climate change, interfaith dialogue," he said. 

The Archbishop used his Thought for the Day on BBC Radio 4 on Saturday to pay further tribute to the duke and his many decades of service in the shadow of the Queen. 

"We might be capable of doing remarkable things by ourselves, but Prince Philip set the example of something even better. His life's work showed that serving others might not always be visible, but it is always essential," he said. 

"Above all he served the Queen, for 73 years. That meant setting aside those things to which many people might have felt entitled, a glittering naval career, prominence in his own right, and counting everything else as less important than serving Queen and country, following his duty in that service, walking behind.

"In that he followed the example of Christ who calls every person to follow him."

Cardinal Vincent Nichols, head of the Catholic Church in England and Wales, said he would be praying for the royal family in this "moment of sadness and loss". 

"How much we will miss Prince Philip's presence and character, so full of life and vigour. He has been an example of steadfast loyalty and duty cheerfully given. May he rest in peace," he said. 

The Baptist Union of Great Britain said, "We pray for Her Majesty the Queen and the royal family as they mourn the death of Prince Philip.

"We pray that they will know the comfort of God. We give thanks for the life of Prince Philip, for the support he gave to the Queen and for all that he brought to our nation." 

The President and Vice-President of the Methodist Conference, the Rev Richard Teal and Carolyn Lawrence paid tribute to Prince Philip's "dedicated support" of the Queen for over 70 years, and "his long and exceptional service to the country and to the Commonwealth".

"We thank God for the Duke's commitment to hundreds of voluntary organisations and the positive impact his Award Scheme has had on the lives of millions of young people," they said.

"In her grief, we pray that the Queen will be comforted by her strong faith in the days and weeks ahead and we extend our condolences to her and all of the royal family."

The Duke of Edinburgh is the longest-serving royal consort in British history. 

Announcing his death on Friday, Buckingham Palace spoke of the Queen's "deep sorrow" over the passing of her "beloved husband". 

Paying tribute, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he had "inspired the lives of countless young people".

Due to ongoing coronavirus restrictions, the funeral is expected to be a scaled down private ceremony.

Gun salutes were to take place at 12:00 BST on Saturday to honour the duke.