The queen, 94, attended the ceremony for her late husband on Saturday, April 17, wearing a black coat, hat and face mask.
Buckingham Palace confirmed the news of Philip’s death on April 9. “It is with deep sorrow that Her Majesty The Queen has announced the death of her beloved husband, His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh,” the family’s statement read. “His Royal Highness passed away peacefully this morning at Windsor Castle. The Royal Family join with people around the world in mourning his loss.”
The prince had been hospitalized in February as a “precautionary measure” and underwent heart surgery on March 3; he returned home on March 16. Despite those ongoing health issues, an Us Weekly source said earlier this month that “the loss was still a surprise.”
One day after his death, the official royal family Instagram account shared a 2016 portrait of the couple along with a caption quoting a speech the queen gave for their 50th wedding anniversary. “He has, quite simply, been my strength and stay all these years, and I, and his whole family, and this and many other countries, owe him a debt greater than he would ever claim, or we shall ever know,” she said.
The queen did not often comment on her relationship with Philip, but the few statements she did share made it clear that she found an unwavering source of support in her husband. “Prince Philip is, I believe, well-known for declining compliments of any kind,” she said in a 2012 speech given for her Diamond Jubilee. “But throughout he has been a constant strength and guide.”
The pair wed in November 1947 in a ceremony held at Westminster Abbey that was broadcast by radio to more than 200 million people. Just over five years later, Philip swore to be the queen’s “liege man of life and limb” at her coronation.
Throughout their 73-year marriage, the couple bonded over their extremely unusual situation in life. “They were two unique people, and only they knew what it was like to be them,” royal biographer Ingrid Seward, author of Prince Philip Revealed, told Us exclusively. “And they were in unique circumstances, they shared things. For instance, when they were younger, they were constantly traveling around the Commonwealth and around the world. And then Phillip used to go off on his own, but when they were together, they could share everything. I think it actually would have been an almost impossible job for someone to do on their own. So it was a partnership, a very unique partnership.”
The queen echoed this sentiment in a speech for her Golden Jubilee in 2002. “I take this opportunity to mention the strength I draw from my own family,” she said. “The Duke of Edinburgh has made an invaluable contribution to my life over these past 50 years, as he has to so many charities and organizations with which he has been involved.”
While she commended his ability to stand by her side on formal occasions, she also appreciated the “seriously sharp wit,” which Prince Harry described in his statement about his grandfather’s death. “Even Prince Philip has decided it’s time to slow down a little — having, as he economically put it, ‘done his bit,'” the queen said in her 2017 Christmas message, following the announcement that he was retiring from royal duties. “But I know his support and unique sense of humor will remain as strong as ever.”