Archbishop leads Catholics in mourning death of Prince Philip

Prelates lead Catholics in Australia and in England praying for the repose of the soul of Prince Phillip and for the comfort of the Royal Family, especially Queen Elizabeth, in their grief for a remarkable man

Reading Time: 5 minutes
Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, is pictured tipping his hat outside London’s Buckingham Palace on 2 Ausgust 2017. Prince Philip, the longest-serving consort of any British monarch, died on 9 April 2021, at age 99, Buckingham Palace said. Photo: CNS, Hannah McKay, Reuters

Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP of Sydney paid tribute to Prince Philip following news of his death on 9 April, praying both for the soul of the Duke of Edinburgh and for the comfort of his wife, Queen Elizabeth II, in her grief.

“Prince Philip was a man of deep Christian faith. A convert to Anglicanism, spouse of the earthly Head of the Church of England, he engaged in religious dialogue with curiosity and respect. For many years he took part in a circle to help priests struggling with faith questions,” he said in a statement issued in Sydney on 10 April.

“The prince also used his position and energy to help others, particularly young people, and many thousands of Australian youth were helped by the Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme. He was also an outspoken advocate for the environment and conservation, decades before this was a fashionable cause.

Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, holds up a bottle of whiskey as he and Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II present gifts to Pope Francis during a meeting at the Vatican on 3 April 2014. Prince Philip, the longest-serving consort of any British monarch, died on 9 April. Photo: CNS, Maria Grazia Picciarella, pool

A moderniser of the Monarchy

He said Prince Philip had worked hard to modernise the institution of the monarchy in Britain, which is also the monarchy of Australia.

“His love of the Commonwealth including Australia, like that of his wife, was palpable. He visited our country many times and counted his Australian knighthood amongst his great honours,” he said, noting that the Prince’s contributions covered family life, faith, distinguished war service, charitable work, and service to Australia as to the whole Commonwealth.

“We pray for his eternal rest and in particular for peace and comfort for his wife, Her Majesty the Queen,” Archbishop Fisher said.

Prince Philip smiles while at the helm of a yacht in 1993. A respected officer in the Royal Navy, he gave up his career to devote himself full-time to his duties as Royal Consort. Photo: CNS, Dylan Martinez, Reuters

Cardinal leads English, Welsh Catholics in prayer

In England, Cardinal Vincent Nichols of Westminster led Catholics of England and Wales in mourning the death of the Prince.

The president of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales issued a statement April 9, soon after the queen announced “with deep sorrow” that her husband of 73 years had died at the age of 99.

“At this moment of sadness and loss, I pray for the repose of the soul of Prince Philip, Her Majesty the Queen’s faithful and loyal husband,” said Cardinal Nichols in a statement posted on the website of the English and Welsh bishops’ conference.

Royal couple met Pope

“I pray for the queen and all of the royal family,” he said. “How much we will miss Prince Philip’s presence and character, so full of life and vigor. He has been an example of steadfast loyalty and duty cheerfully given. May he rest in peace.”

In 2014, the royal couple met for 30 minutes at the Vatican with Pope Francis. When the pope gave Prince Philip a series of three medals of his pontificate, the prince thanked him, joking, “It’s the only gold medal I’ve ever won.”

Queen Elizabeth gave the pope a large basket of food from the estates surrounding her homes; the basket included a bottle of Balmoral whiskey. Prince Philip held up the whiskey, explaining what it was, then picked up another bottle and said, “It’s apple juice.”

A mourner holds flowers and pictures of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, outside London’s Buckingham Palace, after Prince Philip died that day at age 99. Photo: CNS, Henry Nicholls, Reuters

Recent hospital treatment

Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, was admitted to a hospital in mid-February for treatment over 28 days for an infection and preexisting heart condition but “passed away peacefully this morning at Windsor Castle,” according to a statement issued by Buckingham Palace.

“The royal family join with people around the world in mourning his loss,” the statement added.

The prince was last seen in public leaving the hospital on 16 March. He was due to celebrate his 100th birthday on 10 June.

Royal ceremonial funeral

The queen, 94, is now expected to enter an eight-day period of mourning, during which affairs of state will be suspended.

A royal ceremonial funeral is likely to take place at Windsor, in accordance with the wishes of the prince, with a military procession taking place in London.

Archbishop Justin Welby of Canterbury, speaking on behalf of the worldwide Anglican Communion, also paid tribute to the prince, saying he wished to “give thanks to God for his extraordinary life of dedicated service.”

A naval officer who won respect

“He consistently put the interests of others ahead of his own and, in so doing, provided an outstanding example of Christian service,” he said. “During his naval career, in which he served with distinction in the Second World War, he won the respect of his peers as an outstanding officer.

“In his powerful advocacy for conservation, his was a prophetic voice for over half a century, as he brought people from around the world to a new concern and commitment to action for the future of our planet,” he said.

Longest-serving Consort

Prince Philip, who was of Danish and Greek blood, was the longest-serving consort in British history, marrying Elizabeth in November 1947 and serving at her side until his retirement in 2017.

A father of four, his eldest son, Prince Charles, the heir to the throne, is now 72. The youngest of his family is August, the son of the Princess Eugenie, who was born Feb. 9, the 10th of the prince’s great-grandchildren.

Related