The gates of Buckingham Palace were lined with flowers on Saturday as supporters came to pay their respects to the Duke of Edinburgh, despite warnings to stay away due to coronavirus restrictions.
The Union Jack over the palace flew at half mast as the United Kingdom observed an eight-day period of mourning after the death of the longest-serving consort in British history.
The saluting batteries began firing 41 rounds, one round per minute, from noon in cities such as London, Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast, as well as from Royal Navy warships.
Ships that participated included HMS Diamond, HMS Montrose and HMNB Portsmouth, while the Royal Gibraltar regiment joined the salute from British overseas territory, the Defense Ministry said.
The public was encouraged to watch the gun salutes, which are fired to mark important national events, on television or online, rather than gathering in crowds to watch outside.
Hundreds of people lined London’s Tower Bridge overlooking the scene where they shot over the Thames, with a helicopter circling overhead.
Barriers were erected at the palace gates and supporters, many with young children, flocked to a cordoned off area to lay flowers.
Several police officers were on patrol, as well as crowd security personnel in high-visibility jackets, overseeing an event that would undoubtedly have been larger in pre-pandemic times.
On the edge of Green Park overlooking the palace, the world’s media had prepared for a second day of coverage.
Bianca and Dmitry Richie, who have recently moved to London from the United States, were among those attending the palace on Saturday morning.
The couple said they had both been “very sad” upon hearing the news of Prince Philip’s death.
Dmitry, 34, who works in stock trading, said he called his wife as soon as he heard the announcement. “It is very unfortunate, he almost lived to be 100, we are heartbroken,” he said, adding that they were “very proud to be here.”
Bianca, 33, who also works as a stock trader, said she is a “great advocate for the royal family and especially the queen.”
“We were all hoping to see him celebrating his 100th birthday and I feel very sad for the Queen at this time,” he said.
Buckingham Palace and the government have urged people to avoid congregating and have asked mourners not to leave flowers outside London’s central landmark.
Palace staff have said tributes left at both Windsor and Buckingham Palace will be moved elsewhere throughout the day, with flowers and cards commemorating the Duke for the royal family.
Audrey O’Shea, from East London, came to “pay your respects to the whole family” with her daughter and two young grandchildren.
“He was a colorful character and we will sadly miss him,” said the 68-year-old. “He was a real man. My thoughts are with the family. “
She said she felt there would be “a lot more people here if it weren’t for Covid,” adding that they were just there to pay their respects and then “let the family get on with what they have to do.”
After leaving a bouquet of flowers outside the queen’s London residence, 24-year-old Victoria described the death of Prince Philip as “something very sad and unfortunate that it happened.”
Victoria, who is originally from Poland and lives in London, said he was a “man of importance”, adding that he will be observing the days of mourning for the next few days.
In addition to the police presence, chaplains from Billy Graham’s rapid response team were present as people gathered to mourn.
Nikoletta Peto, 39, originally from Hungary, said: “I have lived here for 15 years and I felt that it is important to give a flower to someone who is so respected and who has done so much for this country.
“So I definitely wanted to come, even though because of Covid I was protecting for more than a year. I felt like I had to do it because I think that’s the way it should be. “
By midmorning, the grounds in front of the palace were cleared to make way for a marching cavalry of horses.
A small but steady stream of people continued to brave the rainy weather to gather outside the palace as they shot at both Woolwich Barracks and the Tower of London.
The ceremony followed Westminster Abbey ringing its bell 99 times from 6 p.m. after Prince Philip’s death was announced on Friday.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism