Prince Philip dies: Piers Morgan pays tribute to ‘selfless’ Duke of Edinburgh

Dedication.

Devotion.

Duty.

That’s all you need to know about Prince Philip.

For 73 years, this extraordinarily selfless man gave his life to the service of his adoptive country and to his wife, the Queen.

He was the longest-serving royal consort to any sovereign in British history.

And he was tough, uncompromising, fiercely loyal, incredibly hard-working, unapologetically belligerent, and suffered fools as benevolently as a lion suffers a weak-willed gazelle in the African bush.

The news of the Duke of Edinburgh’s death hit me hard.

He was a constant presence in my life from the day I was born in 1965, the immovable rock at the side of my Monarch, Queen Elizabeth II.

Whenever it mattered, there he was; indomitable, steely-eyed, jut-jawed.

Philip could have been whatever he wanted to be, and he chose to be his wife’s protector and defender.

Dedication. Devotion. Duty. That's all you need to know about Prince Philip. For 73 years, this extraordinarily selfless man gave his life to the service of his adoptive country and to his wife, the Queen

Dedication. Devotion. Duty. That's all you need to know about Prince Philip. For 73 years, this extraordinarily selfless man gave his life to the service of his adoptive country and to his wife, the Queen

Dedication. Devotion. Duty. That’s all you need to know about Prince Philip. For 73 years, this extraordinarily selfless man gave his life to the service of his adoptive country and to his wife, the Queen

Prince Philip, this gloriously alpha male warrior, played second fiddle to the woman he loved. But he did it willingly, with fierce pride. I loved him for that, and Britain loved him for that. Pictured: Queen Elizabeth holding Princess Anne, Prince Charles and Prince Philip

Prince Philip, this gloriously alpha male warrior, played second fiddle to the woman he loved. But he did it willingly, with fierce pride. I loved him for that, and Britain loved him for that. Pictured: Queen Elizabeth holding Princess Anne, Prince Charles and Prince Philip

Prince Philip, this gloriously alpha male warrior, played second fiddle to the woman he loved. But he did it willingly, with fierce pride. I loved him for that, and Britain loved him for that. Pictured: Queen Elizabeth holding Princess Anne, Prince Charles and Prince Philip

Good-looking and blond-haired, the Prince of Greece impressed the young Princess by jumping over the college tennis nets at their first publicised meeting. Pictured: Princess Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh in a wedding photograph in 1947

Good-looking and blond-haired, the Prince of Greece impressed the young Princess by jumping over the college tennis nets at their first publicised meeting. Pictured: Princess Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh in a wedding photograph in 1947

The couple were married for 73 years (pictured in a portrait taken to mark the 60th anniversary of The Queen's Accession in 2012)

The couple were married for 73 years (pictured in a portrait taken to mark the 60th anniversary of The Queen's Accession in 2012)

Prince Philip gave up his glittering military career for his bride when her father King George VI suddenly died, and she succeeded to the throne at the absurdly young age of 27. Good-looking and blond-haired, the Prince of Greece impressed the young Princess by jumping over the college tennis nets at their first publicised meeting. Pictured: Princess Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh in a wedding photograph in 1947. The couple were married for 73 years (pictured in a portrait taken to mark the 60th anniversary of The Queen’s Accession in 2012)

He came through a horrendous childhood to become a British war hero on the fast-track to the very top of the Royal Navy.

But he gave up his glittering military career for his bride when her father King George VI suddenly died, and she succeeded to the throne at the absurdly young age of 27.

From that moment on, Philip, this gloriously alpha male warrior, played second fiddle to the woman he loved. But he did it willingly, with fierce pride.

I loved him for that, and Britain loved him for that.

That’s why his death has hit me so hard today.

But there are many people with a more direct connection to him that it has hit a lot harder.

My brother-in-law Patrick, husband of my sister Charlotte, was commissioned as an officer in the Duke of Edinburgh’s Royal Regiment whose Commander-in-Chief was Prince Philip.

And he then commanded The Royal Gloucestershire, Berkshire and Wiltshire Regiment, a position that he only gained after being personally interviewed by Prince Philip, who again was Commander-in-Chief.

I asked him how he felt about the news, after Charlotte told me Patrick had been in tears.

‘All ranks will be very sad to hear of his death,’ he said. ‘He had the common touch and soldiers loved talking to him because he understood them; officers likewise, but they would be challenged by him more often! As an ex-war-time officer he had the immediate respect of all veterans and serving soldiers, very straight forward and didn’t hide, not afraid to ask tough awkward questions, great sense of humour on all visits. He loved the military. It’s very sad. I really feel for the Queen who has lost someone who is irreplaceable.’

Yes, she has.

The Royal Family’s statement said: ‘It is with deep sorrow that Her Majesty The Queen announces the death of her beloved husband, His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. His Royal Highness passed away peacefully this morning at Windsor Castle. Further announcements will made in due course. The Royal Family join with people around the world in mourning his loss’.

But those typically measured words hide the Queen’s real emotions.

She will be utterly distraught today, at the loss of this great man who so valiantly fought her corner for more than seven decades.

The Queen will be utterly distraught today, at the loss of this great man who so valiantly fought her corner for more than seven decades. Pictured: The Queen and Philip enjoying a walk during their honeymoon at Broadlands in Hampshire in November 1947

The Queen will be utterly distraught today, at the loss of this great man who so valiantly fought her corner for more than seven decades. Pictured: The Queen and Philip enjoying a walk during their honeymoon at Broadlands in Hampshire in November 1947

The Queen will be utterly distraught today, at the loss of this great man who so valiantly fought her corner for more than seven decades. Pictured: The Queen and Philip enjoying a walk during their honeymoon at Broadlands in Hampshire in November 1947

He was the very best of British; a swashbuckling, risk-taking daredevil with boundless energy, deep personal courage and a sharp quick wit who understood that the primary function of the Royal Family is duty to the country. Philip is pictured on the Captain's Boat en route for HMS Chequers while in Malta in October 1949

He was the very best of British; a swashbuckling, risk-taking daredevil with boundless energy, deep personal courage and a sharp quick wit who understood that the primary function of the Royal Family is duty to the country. Philip is pictured on the Captain's Boat en route for HMS Chequers while in Malta in October 1949

He was the very best of British; a swashbuckling, risk-taking daredevil with boundless energy, deep personal courage and a sharp quick wit who understood that the primary function of the Royal Family is duty to the country. Philip is pictured on the Captain’s Boat en route for HMS Chequers while in Malta in October 1949

Philip knew better than anyone that the future of the Monarchy depended entirely on the public's trust in the Royal Family. Pictured: Prince Edward, Prince Charles, Princess Anne, Prince Philip, the Queen, and Prince Andrew

Philip knew better than anyone that the future of the Monarchy depended entirely on the public's trust in the Royal Family. Pictured: Prince Edward, Prince Charles, Princess Anne, Prince Philip, the Queen, and Prince Andrew

Philip knew better than anyone that the future of the Monarchy depended entirely on the public’s trust in the Royal Family. Pictured: Prince Edward, Prince Charles, Princess Anne, Prince Philip, the Queen, and Prince Andrew

The Royal Family's statement said: 'It is with deep sorrow that Her Majesty The Queen announces the death of her beloved husband, His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. His Royal Highness passed away peacefully this morning at Windsor Castle. Further announcements will made in due course. The Royal Family join with people around the world in mourning his loss'

The Royal Family's statement said: 'It is with deep sorrow that Her Majesty The Queen announces the death of her beloved husband, His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. His Royal Highness passed away peacefully this morning at Windsor Castle. Further announcements will made in due course. The Royal Family join with people around the world in mourning his loss'

The Royal Family’s statement said: ‘It is with deep sorrow that Her Majesty The Queen announces the death of her beloved husband, His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. His Royal Highness passed away peacefully this morning at Windsor Castle. Further announcements will made in due course. The Royal Family join with people around the world in mourning his loss’

And most Britons will share her sadness too.

Prince Philip wasn’t a perfect human being and would have been the last person to claim that he was.

No, he was flawed, intemperate, impatient and occasionally downright offensive.

But that’s why we loved and respected him so much.

He was his own man.

He was also the very best of British; a swashbuckling, risk-taking daredevil with boundless energy, deep personal courage and a sharp quick wit who understood that the primary function of the Royal Family is duty to the country.

Philip knew better than anyone that the future of the Monarchy depended entirely on the public’s trust in the Royal Family.

Prince Philip was always there; on the balconies, at the big events, in times of joy and crisis, standing by his Queen. The Queen waves from the balcony of Buckingham Palace, with the Duke by her side, after her Coronation in June 1953, with their children Prince Charles and Princess Anne

Prince Philip was always there; on the balconies, at the big events, in times of joy and crisis, standing by his Queen. The Queen waves from the balcony of Buckingham Palace, with the Duke by her side, after her Coronation in June 1953, with their children Prince Charles and Princess Anne

Prince Philip was always there; on the balconies, at the big events, in times of joy and crisis, standing by his Queen. The Queen waves from the balcony of Buckingham Palace, with the Duke by her side, after her Coronation in June 1953, with their children Prince Charles and Princess Anne

Princess Anne, Prince Andrew, Prince Philip, the Queen, Prince Edward and Prince Charles at Buckingham Palace in 1972

Princess Anne, Prince Andrew, Prince Philip, the Queen, Prince Edward and Prince Charles at Buckingham Palace in 1972

Princess Anne, Prince Andrew, Prince Philip, the Queen, Prince Edward and Prince Charles at Buckingham Palace in 1972

And that trust had to be hard-fought and hard-earned.

He rarely spoke in public or had any direct dealings with the media that he made no secret of disliking.

But he was always there; on the balconies, at the big events, in times of joy and crisis, standing by his Queen.

It was that constant presence that was so enduringly impressive, and so comforting.

Philip didn’t join the Royal circus for personal gratification, or celebrity status, or money.

He joined it because he loved Elizabeth, or ‘Lilibet’ as he called her.

And that ferocious abiding love overrode everything else in his life, right to the end of his life.

Tonight, the Queen mourns the loss of this great man, and the whole of Britain mourns with her.

Tonight, the Queen mourns the loss of this great man, and the whole of Britain mourns with her. Pictured: Buckingham Palace announced the death of Prince Philip at just after midday today - and described the Queen's 'deep sorrow'

Tonight, the Queen mourns the loss of this great man, and the whole of Britain mourns with her. Pictured: Buckingham Palace announced the death of Prince Philip at just after midday today - and described the Queen's 'deep sorrow'

Tonight, the Queen mourns the loss of this great man, and the whole of Britain mourns with her. Pictured: Buckingham Palace announced the death of Prince Philip at just after midday today – and described the Queen’s ‘deep sorrow’

Philip has served Britain since his youth and the world is mourning his death at Windsor Castle today, with the Royal Family releasing this photo and tribute shortly after his death

Philip has served Britain since his youth and the world is mourning his death at Windsor Castle today, with the Royal Family releasing this photo and tribute shortly after his death

Philip has served Britain since his youth and the world is mourning his death at Windsor Castle today, with the Royal Family releasing this photo and tribute shortly after his death

They were one hell of a team, and together, they conquered the affections of the world.

At the centre of their relationship was a mutual sense of duty.

Five years after their marriage, Philip knelt before his wife at her coronation and pledged: ‘Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, do become your liege man of life and limb and of earthly worship. And faith and truth I will bear unto you, to live and die against all manner of folks. So help me God.’

He then rose to his feet, touched her crown and kissed her on the cheek.

Philip never wavered from that pledge.

Every time his wife, the Queen, needed him, he was there.

He would have given his life for her, just as he risked his life on the battlefield to fight for his country.

Now, just two months before he would have turned 100 and been entitled to a birthday telegram of congratulations from his wife and Monarch, he’s gone.

The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh pose for a family photo after William and Kate's wedding on April 29, 2011

The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh pose for a family photo after William and Kate's wedding on April 29, 2011

The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh pose for a family photo after William and Kate’s wedding on April 29, 2011

My heart breaks for Her Majesty, a woman who has served as Queen for 68 years and barely put a regal foot wrong in those seven decades.

She has lost the love of her life, and the man who helped her become the great Monarch that she is.

Britain has lost one of its greatest servants.

RIP Prince Philip.

Dedication.

Devotion.

Duty.

You were a truly great Briton who gave your life to selfless public duty and were an absolute rock of devoted support to The Queen.

This is a very sad day for our country.

Thank you, Sir.

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