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Prince Philip's death marked with gun salutes across the U.K.

Saphora Smith
·3 min read
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LONDON — Gun salutes marking the death of Britain’s Prince Philip are taking place across the United Kingdom and at sea.

At midday local time Saturday (7 a.m. ET), saluting batteries began firing 41 rounds at one round every minute to mark the death of Queen Elizabeth II's husband, Britain's Ministry of Defense said in a statement.

The salutes took place in London; Belfast, Northern Ireland; Cardiff, Wales; and Edinburgh, Scotland, the capitals of the four nations that make up the U.K. Guns were also fired in Gibraltar, a British overseas territory located in the southern tip of the Iberian Peninsula, and at sea from Royal Navy warships.

Philip died early Friday at the age of 99. He was the longest-serving consort of any British monarch.

Image: Members of the 105th Regiment Royal Artillery fire a 41-round gun salute at Edinburgh Castle in Scotland (WPA Pool / Getty Images)
Image: Members of the 105th Regiment Royal Artillery fire a 41-round gun salute at Edinburgh Castle in Scotland (WPA Pool / Getty Images)

In London, the King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery rode out from its base at Napier Lines, Woolwich Barracks, onto the parade ground with 71 horses, 36 of them pulling six 13-pounder field guns dating from World War I, the Ministry of Defense said.

The same guns were fired at Philip’s wedding to the queen in 1947 and at the queen’s coronation six years later, in 1953, the statement added.

Guns were also fired by the Honourable Artillery Company’s light guns at the Tower of London. The company is the oldest regiment in the British army, with its origins dating back to 1537, the ministry said.

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The tradition of gun salutes being fired throughout the country to mark significant national events dates back to at least the 18th century, and there are historical records of salutes taking place as early as the 14th century.

Similar gun salutes were fired to mark the deaths of Queen Victoria in 1901 and Winston Churchill in 1965.

British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace said in a statementthat Philip had been a "constant supporter and ambassador of the Armed Forces" and would be "very much missed by members of the military community."

Philip’s death has reverberated around Britain and the world, with tributes pouring in from world leaders, other royal families and every living former president of the United States.

But with coronavirus restrictions currently in place in the United Kingdom, officials have discouraged crowds from paying their respects and from gathering outside royal residences. The queen is considering "modified" funeral plans and ceremonial arrangements in light of the pandemic and government guidelines, a statement from Buckingham Palace said Friday.

The gun salutes Saturday are happening behind closed doors, and the British public was encouraged to watch from home as they are broadcast online and on television.

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Philip had a life long affiliation with the armed forces.

As a teenager he joined the Royal Navy and graduated from the Britannia Royal Naval College as a top cadet. He saw active duty from the Indian Ocean to the Mediterranean, and in 1945 at the end of World War II, he was in Tokyo Bay when the Japanese surrendered.

After the war, Philip continued to serve until he left the Royal Navy in 1952, the ministry said. In a 2011 interview with the British broadcaster ITV, he explained why he gave up an active naval career: ''Being married to the queen, it seemed to me, my first duty was to serve her in the best way I could.''

The queen recognized Philip's connection with the Royal Navy by conferring the title and office of Lord High Admiral to him on his 90th birthday in 2011.