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U.K. Military Gun Salutes Honor Prince Philip A Day After His Death

Coordinated gun salutes simultaneously rang throughout the United Kingdom Saturday to honor the late Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh and husband of Queen Elizabeth II. He died Friday at the age of 99. A small funeral is set for April 17 at Windsor Castle.

Prince Charles, Prince of Wales and the eldest son of Queen Elizabeth II, said his father devoted his life to the Queen, his family, the country and the Commonwealth.

"He was a much loved and appreciated figure, and apart from anything else, I can imagine he would be so deeply touched by the number of other people here and elsewhere around the world and the Commonwealth who also I think, share our loss and our sorrow," he said. "My dear papa was a very special person who I think above all else would have been amazed by the reaction and the touching things that have been said about him and from that point of view we are, my family, deeply grateful for all that. It will sustain us in this particular loss and at this particularly sad time."

Starting at noon local time (7 a.m. ET), members of the Royal Artillery fired one round each minute, totaling 41 rounds. The ceremonies occurred in London, Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast — as well as on multiple Royal Navy warships and in the British overseas territory of Gibraltar.

Philip was married to Queen Elizabeth II for over 73 years. He holds the longest tenure as a royal consort in the history of the British monarchy.

"The Armed Forces are immensely proud of their close relationship with Prince Philip," the British Ministry of Defense said in a statement after the gun salutes began. The late prince had served as a Royal Navy officer and held multiple military titles within the British Armed Forces.

Gun salutes are a tradition in the U.K. spanning back at least three centuries to commemorate national events. Salutes were carried out following the deaths of former Prime Minister Winston Churchill and Queen Victoria. In 2017, 41 rounds were also fired to celebrate Queen Elizabeth reaching 65 years as queen.

Two gun salutes were held in London on Saturday. Notably, at the royal marine base, Woolwich Barracks, the King's Troop Royal Horse Artillery fired from the same guns used in gun salutes to honor the wedding of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip in 1947 as well as the queen's coronation in 1953.

The Honourable Artillery Company also carried out a gun salute from the Tower of London as crowds watched from the Tower Bridge

Earlier Saturday morning, representatives from the Household Cavalry also stood in front of Windsor Castle, where Philip died, and held a moment of silence for two minutes.

Due to the ongoing public health concerns over the coronavirus, the British public have been urged to avoid congregating in big groups to honor Philip.

"During this time the Royal Family ask that members of the public consider making a donation to a charity instead of leaving floral tributes in memory of The Duke of Edinburgh," the Royal Family said in a statement Friday. There is also an online condolence book the public can sign.

That said, a line of people hoping to leave flowers has formed in front of Buckingham Palace. Crowds are also congregating outside Windsor Castle.

The funeral is set for April 17 at St. George's Chapel at Windsor Castle and will allow a maximum of 30 attendees, multiple news outlets report. Philip will lie at rest at Windsor Castle instead of lying in state, a choice he made before his death.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.