Units from the British Army have marked the death of His Royal Highness, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. In ceremonies across the UK, a 41-gun salute has been sounded, after the announcement of His Royal Highness’ death on Friday.
Firing once a minute from 12 noon today, the salutes took place simultaneously across the UK, in Woolwich Barracks and the Tower of London, at Edinburgh Castle, at Cardiff Castle and at Hillsborough Castle in Northern Ireland.
The Duke of Edinburgh saw active service in World War Two, and his military service continued through his many honorary commands throughout his life.
The Chief of the General Staff, General Sir Mark Carleton-Smith, paid tribute to his Royal Highness, saying: “We deeply regret his passing, but we will remember him with respect, admiration and gratitude.”
It is a privilege for all those from The King’s Troop...It is a responsibility we do not hold lightly and one that is an honour. Major Victoria Flood, Officer Commanding Kings Troop RHA
In a scaled-down commemoration, due to COVID, troops paid their respects on behalf of the country, and the military, to Britain’s longest-ever serving consort.
Units from the King’s Troop Royal Artillery in Woolwich Barracks, and the Honourable Artillery Company at the Tower of London, 105 Regiment, Royal Artillery in both Scotland and Northern Ireland, and 104 Regiment in Wales, took part in the ceremony.
The events were quiet and solemn, with only the orders to fire heard throughout the 41-minute long occasion.
The Tower of London and Woolwich Barracks, London
Salutes were carried out at the Tower of London and Woolwich Barracks in south east London. Special dispensation was given to use the parade ground at Woolwich Barracks, as the Royal Parks are currently closed.
The King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery and their 71 horses rode out from their stables at George VI Lines just before midday to set up six First World War era 13-pound guns on the parade square at the Royal Artillery Barracks.
In a poignant touch, they used the same guns that were fired for Her Majesty The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh’s Wedding in 1947, and at The Queen’s Coronation in 1953.
Commanding Officer Major Victoria Flood said: “It is a privilege for all those from The King’s Troop to be commemorating the passing of the Duke of Edinburgh. It is a responsibility we do not hold lightly and one that is an honour.”
Dmr Frank May, A Battery, Honourable Artillery Company, was doing his first gun salute at the Tower of London.
He said: “Slightly nervous, but confident. We have been trained well and I’m honoured to be part of it. It’s a sad occasion, obviously, but I hope we can do it justice and I feel like we can.
WO2 Darren Connor, Battery Sergeant Major, Honourable Artillery Company, said: “The team always take a lot of pride in doing the gun salutes. It’s a Regimental tasking so as the Battery is part of the Regiment, we take pride in representing the Regiment.”
Edinburgh Castle, Scotland
Meanwhile, reservists from 105 Regiment, Royal Artillery, performed the salute at Edinburgh Castle.
It was a big moment, but a sad moment – I was proud to be part of it. Bdr Jenny Findlay, 105 Regt RA
The Regimental headquarters is in Edinburgh, with batteries across Scotland and Northern Ireland.
Major Justin Auty, a teacher, is the Battery Commander 207 city of Glasgow battery 105 Regiment Royal Artillery. Acting as Troop Commander today, he said:
“I’m exceptionally proud to be involved in this. I’m privileged to command this unit and the royal gun salute today on this solemn occasion.”
Bombardier Jenny Findlay, an NHS worker and Reservist, said:
“It was a big moment, but a sad moment – I was proud to be part of it.”
Cardiff Castle, Wales
Reservists from 104 Regiment, Royal Artillery, make up the only Army Reserve Regiment in Wales, and were the unit carrying out the 41-gun salute at Cardiff Castle.
Captain Dominic Rees, parade commander for 104 Rgt RA, is an IT project manager.
He said: “Naturally, for such an historic occasion as this, there were nerves at the part our unit would be playing.
we’re saddened at the passing of His Royal Highness Prince Philip but immensely proud to be involved in such a significant occasion. Capt Dominic Rees, 104 Regt RA
“Most of the Reserves here today were working yesterday when the notification went out and it was a case of getting to Cardiff and rehearsing late into the night.
“I was in the middle of a meeting, but my employers are incredibly understanding of my Reserve role and I was able to immediately deploy and get to where I needed to be.
“There are mixed feelings because we’re saddened at the passing of His Royal Highness Prince Philip but immensely proud to be involved in such a significant occasion.”
Staff Sergeant Liarne Fox, from Cardiff, has served with the Regiment since 2006 and helped load one of the four 105mm light guns inside the castle grounds.
She said: “I’ve been involved with nearly 100 Royal Gun Salutes but never one as poignant as this. It’s a real honour to part of this sad but very important occasion when the nation takes time to remember Prince Philip and his service to the country.”
Hillsborough Castle, Northern Ireland
206 Ulster Battery, also from 105 Regiment, Royal Artillery, performed the salute using three guns at Hillsborough Castle, the only Royal residence in Northern Ireland.
Also known as the Ulster Gunners, they have sole responsibility for RGS in Northern Ireland and are a Reserve Field Artillery Battery, who like their parent Unit 105 Regiment RA, use the 105mm Light Gun which have been specially painted for the task and have a couple of modifications; but could be used on operations, if needed.
The three guns fired today have been in service since 1976 and were first used in the Falklands War in 1982. They are very manoeuvrable and can be underslung on a Chinook helicopter.
Battery Commander, Maj William Wallace, said: “As Army Reservists it is a particular honour for 206 (Ulster) Battery to commemorate the passing of HRH The Duke of Edinburgh in this way and a privilege to carry out the Salute on behalf of the people of Northern Ireland.”
The Royal Gibraltar Regiment paid tribute in Gibraltar, and Royal Navy units in Devonport and Portsmouth fired Naval guns. Salutes were also fired from Naval Ships HMS Diamond, HMNB Portsmouth and HMS Montrose.
The tradition of gun salutes being fired throughout the country to mark significant national events dates back to at least the eighteenth century, and there are historical records of salutes taking place as early as the 14th century when guns and ammunition began to be adopted more widely. Similar gun salutes were fired to mark the death of Queen Victoria in 1901 and Sir Winston Churchill in 1965.
Salutes were fired with 13-pounder field guns at Woolwich Barracks, and 105mm Light Guns at all other locations.
Usually, 21 rounds are fired for a Royal Salute, and because they’re being fired from designated saluting grounds, including from Royal parks, another 20 rounds have been added to today’s firing.