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Prince Philip has died at the age of 99

(New: reactions, including Merkel)

London (Reuters) - Prince Philip is dead.

The husband of the British Queen Elizabeth II died in the morning at Windsor Castle at the age of 99, as Buckingham Palace announced on Friday. "It is with great regret that Her Majesty the Queen announces the death of her beloved husband, HRH Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh." Born on June 10, 1921 in Corfu as Prince of Greece and Denmark, Philip had been married to Elizabeth since 1947, who ascended the throne in 1952. “He has been my strength and support all these years,” said the Queen in 1997 on the occasion of her golden wedding anniversary. Twenty years later, the then 95-year-old largely withdrew from the public and no longer held any obligations for the royal family. He only attended appointments occasionally, the last time in July.

The flags were hoisted at half-mast in government buildings across the kingdom. Citizens laid flowers in front of Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle. There Philip will be laid out in St George’s Chapel before the burial, it said in a statement. As ordered by the deceased, there will be no state funeral. "Experienced carriage driver that he was, he drove the royal family and the monarchy," Prime Minister Boris Johnson said in an initial response. He has earned the affection of generations.

Chancellor Angela Merkel said that she was deeply saddened by Philip's death. "His friendship with Germany, his straightforwardness and his sense of duty will not be forgotten." The new US President Joe Biden and the former George W. Bush expressed their condolences. Expressions of condolences came from countries around the world. The royal houses of Norway, Sweden and Belgium as well as the Sultan of Oman and the King of Bahrain were deeply affected in their initial reactions.

For more than 70 years Philip stood by his wife's side, always staying one step behind her and mainly performing representative tasks. The trained naval officer, who experienced World War II as a lieutenant at sea in the Mediterranean and Southeast Asia, held more than 400 honorary presidencies. Among other things, he was committed to environmental protection. Philip was President of the World Wildlife Fund for Nature for many years.

In private, Philip was considered the absolute head of the family. He and Elizabeth have four children: heir to the throne Charles, Princess Anne, and Princes Andrew and Edward. In an interview on the occasion of his 90th birthday, the prince admitted that it was difficult for him to give up his military career after his wife had acceded to the throne. His role as the queen's husband was also not clearly defined. “There were no role models. When I asked what do you expect from me, they looked at me helplessly. They had no idea. "

Prince Philip was known for his distinctive sayings, which regularly brought him headlines in the press. For example, he warned British students on a trip to China in the 1980s: "You will get slanted eyes if you stay too long." In 1997 he greeted the then Federal Chancellor Helmut Kohl with the words: "Good afternoon, Mr. Reich Chancellor."