The Duke of Edinburgh and the Queen were described as a “true partnership” by Scotland’s First Minister as a day of political tributes to Philip began.
Nicola Sturgeon said the duke faced the “challenge” of being married to a “powerful woman” during a period when men usually held positions of authority, yet was “devoted to supporting the Queen”.
Mark Drakeford, the First Minister of Wales, led tributes in the Senedd, saying: “The Government in this Parliament… I extend our sincerest sympathies at the end of an exceptional life lived.”
The early return of Parliaments in London, Edinburgh and Cardiff came after a weekend in which all four of Philip’s children spoke movingly about the loss of their father.
The Duke of York said his father was “the grandfather of the nation” and revealed that the Queen had described the death of her husband as “having left a huge void in her life”.
The Duke of Sussex is reported to have arrived in the UK from the US, but his wife the duchess has been advised by her doctor not to travel for Saturday’s funeral, which will be televised and will take place entirely in the grounds of Windsor Castle.
Speaking in Holyrood during a tribute to Philip, Ms Sturgeon said: “He faced the additional challenge of being the husband of a powerful woman at a time when that was even more of an exception than it is today.
“That reversal of the more traditional dynamic was highly unusual in the 1940s, ’50s and ’60s, and even now isn’t as common as it might be.
The Duke left the @RoyalNavy as a serving officer in 1952 to support The Queen in her duties, but remained deeply committed to the Armed Forces.— The Royal Family (@RoyalFamily) April 12, 2021
In 1953, HRH was given honorary appointments, becoming Admiral of the Fleet, @BritishArmy Field Marshal and @RoyalAirForce Marshal. pic.twitter.com/DOkqHiN1ND
“Yet the Duke of Edinburgh was devoted to supporting the Queen – they were a true partnership.”
Ms Sturgeon said she had enjoyed speaking to the duke about the books they were reading when she stayed at the Queen’s private Scottish home, Balmoral.
“He was a thoughtful man, deeply interesting and fiercely intelligent,” she said.
“He was also a serious bookworm, which I am too, so talking about the books we were reading was often for me a real highlight of our conversations.”
The First Minister of Wales Mark Drakeford said: “Our thoughts today are with those members of the wider royal family who have to face that loss in the particularly distressing circumstances caused by the public health emergency.”
Arlene Foster, First Minister of Northern Ireland, described the duke as a “true intergenerational legacy to our youth, our United Kingdom and the world’s environment”.
The DUP leader noted the impact on the duke of the loss of his uncle, Lord Louis Mountbatten, who was killed by an IRA bomb in 1979, and paid tribute to Philip’s service in the Second World War.
She said: “The Duke of Edinburgh demonstrated the desire for a better future, and particularly so for our younger generation. So let us embrace his legacy to positive effect as we all go about the job of seeing Northern Ireland reaching its full potential in the new century ahead of us.”
After a church service in Windsor on Sunday, where some of the royals said prayers for Philip, the Duke of York revealed the personal feelings of the Queen.
He said about his father’s death: “She described it as having left a huge void in her life but we, the family, the ones that are close, are rallying round to make sure that we’re there to support her.”
Andrew said his mother is “an incredibly stoic person”, with his sister-in-law the Countess of Wessex adding that the Queen is “thinking of others before herself”.
The Earl of Wessex said his mother is “bearing up” and that the “wave of affection” for his father and “fantastic” tributes are appreciated by the family.
Sophie candidly described the circumstances of the duke’s death as “very peaceful” when she chatted to a member of the congregation, saying it was if “somebody took him by the hand and off he went”.
Only 30 people – expected to be Philip’s children, grandchildren and other close family – will attend the duke’s funeral on Saturday afternoon as guests.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who later is expected to lead tributes in the House of Commons, has given up his seat at the funeral to allow a family member to attend.