Pope Francis has offered the Queen “heartfelt condolences” for the loss of her husband, as he praised the Duke of Edinburgh for his devotion to his marriage and family.
In a telegram sent by the Vatican’s Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Holy Father paid tribute to Prince Philip’s “distinguished record” of public service and his “commitment to the education and advancement of future generations”.
The pope’s telegram came as tributes and messages flooded in from leaders of all faiths, including the head of the Catholic Church in England and Wales, Cardinal Vincent Nichols; the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby; and Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth.
Offering his prayers for all of the Royal Family, Cardinal Nichols said: “How much we will miss Prince Philip’s presence and character, so full of life and vigour. He has been an example of steadfast loyalty and duty cheerfully given. May he rest in peace.”
In a Requiem Mass, celebrated last weekend in Westminster Cathedral for the repose of the soul of Prince Philip, the cardinal described the duke as the “faithful rock” of the Royal Family.
“Every family in grief needs comfort and support, and none more so than a grieving wife, our Queen. May our prayers contribute to her comfort and support,” he said.
Dr Gavin Ashenden, a former chaplain to Queen Elizabeth II and Anglican bishop who converted to the Catholic faith in 2019, said Prince Philip “exemplified the kind of humility and self-giving that Christianity has at its heart”.
The Archbishop of Liverpool, Malcolm McMahon, recalled the prince’s “life of loyal public service to our country” and his family, while the Bishop of the Forces, Paul Mason, praised his duty and service over so many decades as “an example to us all”.
“Seeing active service in the Royal Navy during WWII as well as his ongoing support of the Armed Forces has brought a great sense of pride and inspiration to military personnel,” he said.
The Primate of All-Ireland recalled the prince’s regular visits to Northern Ireland for charitable work and the major impact the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme has had on the lives of young people.
“His visit to Ireland along with Queen Elizabeth in 2011, stands out as a cherished moment of peace and reconciliation and as an historic demonstration of the importance of mutual understanding and respectful relationships between these islands,” he said.
Archbishop Welby said the legacy Prince Philip leaves is “enormous”, as he recalled his “joy at life, his enquiring mind and his ability to communicate to people from every background and walk of life”.
“He was a master at putting people at their ease and making them feel special,” he added.
Rabbi Mirvis paid tribute to the duke’s “interaction with, and affection for the Jewish community in the UK and his connection with Israel, where his mother is buried and which he visited in 1994”.
Tributes also came from the United Reformed Church; the Muslim Council of Britain; the Hindu Council UK; and the Sikh Federation UK, as well as many other faith groups and organisations.
Picture: Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, holds up a bottle of whiskey as he and Queen Elizabeth II present gifts to Pope Francis during a meeting at the Vatican on 3rd April 2014. Prince Philip, the longest-serving consort of any British monarch, died on 9th April 2021, at the age of 99, Buckingham Palace said. (CNS photo/Maria Grazia Picciarella, pool).