World

GulfNews World

Prince Philip death: UK has lost 'grandfather of the nation', Prince Andrew says

Europe|: London: The death of Prince Philip has left a huge void for his wife Queen Elizabeth and Britain has lost its “grandfather”, his son Prince Andrew said on Sunday, as tributes poured in and the royals thanked the public for its support. Andrew joined his siblings Charles, Anne and Edward in saying they had taken strength from the outpouring of affection and would rally around their mother in her time of grief. “You know it’s going to happen but you are never really ready,” Anne said in a statement. Andrew called his father a “remarkable man” after he left a private church service in Windsor, near where Philip died on Friday aged 99. “It’s a great loss,” he said. “I think the way I would put it is we’ve lost almost the grandfather of the nation.” Prince Edward echoed that, saying: “He might have been our father, grandfather, father-in-law but he meant so much to so many other people”. Edward’s wife, Sophie, told well-wishers of Philip’s final moments. “It was right for him. It was so gentle. It was just like somebody took him by the hand and off he went,” she said. “Very, very peaceful. And that’s all you want for somebody isn’t it?” Andrew said of his 94-year-old mother that the queen was stoical in the face of a loss that she had described as “having left a huge void in her life”. Andrew has rarely been seen in public since he stepped down from official duties in 2019 over the controversy surrounding his association with the disgraced late U.S. financier Jeffrey Epstein. The prayers for Philip at the service in All Saints Chapel in Windsor Great Park west of London echoed church services across the country. At Canterbury Cathedral, the Archbishop of Canterbury prayed for those who found that the death of the Duke of Edinburgh, as Philip was officially known, had left a “very great gap” in their lives. As part of eight days of national mourning, people gathered outside Windsor Castle and other royal palaces to leave flowers, while religious and political leaders expressed support for the queen, the world’s oldest and longest-reigning monarch. A note attached to a Royal Navy peak cap left amongst flowers at Windsor, a tribute to Philip’s service in the navy, read: “God bless you Sir, you were an example to us all.” Edward Elgar’s stirring Nimrod was played at the Canterbury Cathedral service, the piece of music that accompanies many British funerals and memorial services and is played annually at the Cenotaph in London to mark the National Service of Remembrance. A Greek prince, Philip married Elizabeth in 1947, five years before she ascended to the throne. He helped the monarchy modernise in the post-World War Two period and supported the queen through numerous crises over the years. His funeral will be held next Saturday, with long-established plans redrawn and scaled down because of COVID-19 restrictions. The prince will be given a ceremonial royal funeral rather than a state funeral. There will be no public processions, and it will be held entirely within the grounds of Windsor Castle and limited to 30 mourners. Prime Minister Boris Johnson will not attend. Former British Prime Minister John Major, who was in office from 1990 to 1997 and who was guardian to Princes William and Harry after their mother Diana died, said he hoped the funeral would help reunite the family after it was rocked last month by an interview given by Harry and his wife Meghan to Oprah Winfrey. During the interview, Meghan said her pleas for help while she felt suicidal were ignored and that an unnamed member of the family had asked how dark their unborn child’s skin might be. Harry will return from the United States, where the couple now live, to attend the funeral while Meghan, who is pregnant with their second child, will not, on her doctor’s advice. “The friction that we are told has arisen is a friction better ended as speedily as possible,” Major said.

GulfNews World

COVID-19: England shops and pub gardens reopen in 'major step' to freedom

Europe|: London: England’s shops, hairdressers, gyms and pub gardens will reopen on Monday in what Prime Minister Boris Johnson said was a “major step” towards freedom from the restrictions of the COVID-19 pandemic. Hundreds of thousands of businesses have been closed since early January when England entered a third lockdown to stem surging infections driven by the “Kent” variant of the virus. A vaccination campaign that has delivered a first shot to well over half of adults and lockdown measures have cut deaths by more than 95 per cent and cases by over 90 per cent from the January peak. Sunday’s seven deaths within 28 days of a positive COVID test is the lowest daily death toll by this measure since Sept 14. That progress would allow a staged easing of lockdown to proceed, Johnson said earlier this month, adding that he was looking forward to a pint in a pub garden. “I’m sure it will be a huge relief for those business owners who have been closed for so long, and for everyone else it’s a chance to get back to doing some of the things we love and have missed,” he said in a statement on Sunday. “I urge everyone to continue to behave responsibly and remember ‘hands, face, space and fresh air’ to suppress COVID as we push on with our vaccination programme.” With more than 127,000 fatalities, the United Kingdom has the fifth highest death toll in the world from COVID-19. Persuading people to return to some kind of normality and start spending again is key to Britain’s recovery after official data last month showed that 2020 was the worst year for its economy in more than three centuries. UK retailers, which have lost an estimated 27 billion pounds ($37 billion) in sales during lockdowns, are hoping pent-up demand will fuel a trading boom. Non-essential stores, such as home and fashion chains, will reopen in Wales as well as England on Monday, although those in Scotland need to wait until April 26 Pubs and restaurants will only be able to serve outdoors from Monday, although early rules requiring meals to be served with drinks and curfews have been scrapped. Indoor service will not be allowed until May 17 at the earliest.