Prince Philip: World leaders and royals send heartfelt sympathy

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"A heck of a guy": US President Joe Biden, NZ PM Jacinda Ardern and other world leaders pay tribute to Prince Philip

Monarchs, heads of state and prime ministers across the world have sent heartfelt tributes following the death of Prince Philip at the age of 99.

Europe's royal households and Commonwealth leaders alike praised the Duke of Edinburgh's public service.

Joe Biden described the duke as a "heck of a guy", and all living former US presidents also sent tributes.

Meanwhile, commemorative church services and remembrance ceremonies are taking place on Sunday.

Australia's Prime Minister Scott Morrison attended a service at Sydney's St Andrews Cathedral which included prayers for the Royal Family and a naval hymn in honour of Prince Philip..

He earlier described the duke as "a man who was steadfast, who could be relied upon, who always [stood] by his Queen".

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Special church services - such as this one in Sydney - are taking place around the world on Sunday

"On Prince Philip's many visits to Australia, we have come to know him as a man of compassion and service, personal warmth, intellectual curiosity and generous spirit," Reverend Kanishka de Silva Raffel said at the service.

In neighbouring New Zealand, a ceremony took place on Sunday in the country's capital, Wellington, featuring a 41-gun salute.

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Barack Obama said Philip was a "remarkable man... who helped provide steady leadership and guiding wisdom"

On Saturday, Pope Francis paid tribute to the duke's "devotion to his marriage and family".

The leader of the Roman Catholic Church also noted the prince's "commitment to the education and advancement of future generations".

The spiritual leader of Tibet, the Dalai Lama, wrote to the Queen and Prince Charles, saying Prince Philip would be remembered for having lived a meaningful life.

President Xi Jinping of China also sent his condolences.

The duke, whose death was announced by Buckingham Palace on Friday, accompanied the Queen during hundreds of overseas visits.

'Cherish the memories'

Prince Philip had blood ties with a number of former or current European royal households, and many of their members sent condolences.

The telegram from King Felipe and Queen Letizia of Spain was particularly poignant, sending "all our love and affection" to Aunt Lilibet (the affectionate name used by the duke for his wife) and Dear Uncle Philip.

"We shall never forget the moments that we shared with him," they told the Queen.

Image source, Reuters
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Prince Philip rides in a carriage with Spain's Queen Letizia in London in 2017

Sweden's King Carl Gustaf said the duke had been "a great friend of our family for many years, a relation we have deeply valued".

Swedish royal family spokeswoman Margareta Thorgren told the BBC the king and the duke had sailed together in England, adding: "That was the start of a great friendship between them."

The Dutch royal family said they remembered Prince Philip with great respect, adding: "His lively personality made an indelible impression."

Belgium's King Philippe said he and Queen Mathilde would "always cherish the memories of our warm encounters".

'A pillar for the Queen'

Tributes came in too from the Commonwealth - 54 nations, most with roots in the British Empire and home to 2.4 billion people.

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Australian flags were flown at half-mast on the Sydney Harbour Bridge in tribute to the duke

Flags were lowered to half-mast at Australia's Parliament House in Canberra, where a 41-gun salute took place on Saturday, and at the Sydney Harbour Bridge, where in 1954 Prince Philip arrived alongside the newly crowned Queen Elizabeth on the first visit by a reigning monarch to the country.

New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern noted that thousands of young people had "completed life-changing challenges" through the duke's Hillary Award.

Image source, EPA
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A 41-gun salute is fired to commemorate the death of Prince Philip at Parliament House in Canberra, Australia

Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the duke had "contributed so much to the social fabric of our country - and the world".

Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan said Philip had been a "wise leader" and his "role in promoting Pakistan-UK relations will always be remembered".

And Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi was another to praise a lifetime of dedication to "many community service initiatives".

Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta said the duke had been a "towering symbol of family values and the unity of the British people as well as the entire global community".

Other warm condolences from Africa included Zimbabwe - which has had a rocky relationship with the UK and is no longer in the Commonwealth - and the president of Tanzania, which only recently lost its leader John Pombe Magufuli amid Covid-19 rumours.

'Long and remarkable life'

Other tributes came from nations deeply linked to the duke and his family.

Malta's Prime Minister Robert Abela wrote: "Truly saddened by the loss of Prince Philip, who made Malta his home and returned here so often. Our people will always treasure his memory."

Philip and Elizabeth spent two idyllic years on Malta, where he was stationed in the Navy, before King George VI died in 1952.

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the duke had been "the consummate public servant" and would be much missed.

The duke's mother, Princess Alice of Battenberg, who died in 1969, is buried at the Church of Mary Magdalene in Jerusalem.

Image source, Getty Images
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The Duke of Edinburgh with his mother Princess Alice Of Battenberg

The Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, sent his "sincere condolences and sympathies" to the Queen, the Royal Family and the British people.

In a personal tribute, Barack Obama, one of the 18 US presidents in the duke's lifetime, said Philip had immediately put him and Michelle at ease, and that he was "kind and warm, with a sharp wit and unfailing good humour".

Donald Trump said Prince Philip had "defined British dignity and grace. He personified the quiet reserve, stern fortitude and unbending integrity of the United Kingdom..."

In a telegram to the Queen, Russian President Vladimir Putin said the duke had "rightfully enjoyed respect" both at home and internationally.

And Chancellor Angela Merkel said the duke's "friendship with Germany, his straightforward nature and his sense of duty" would be remembered.

France's Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian called the duke a man of "great style", saying: "France joins in the sorrow of its friends across the Channel and salutes the life of a man who was a witness to a century of trials and hopes for our continent."

Italian President Sergio Mattarella said he would "cherish" the memories of Prince Philip's "deep admiration for Italy's artistic and cultural heritage". He said the duke had accompanied the" evolution of his country with an open and innovative spirit".

Irish President Michael D Higgins praised Prince Philip's ability to bring "an air of informality to otherwise formal occasions".

"His distinctive presence and unique sense of humour put participants at ease and always engaged those who encountered him," he said.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen expressed her sympathy to the royal family and "the people of the United Kingdom on this very sad day".