Royal fans defy ‘stay away’ warning to pay tribute to Philip in Windsor

Ted Hennessey and Mike Bedigan
·3 min read

Royal fans have spoken of wanting to “be there” for the Queen by paying tribute to the Duke of Edinburgh in Windsor during his funeral, despite being warned not to gather.

Hundreds congregated outside Windsor Castle on Saturday to pay their respects to Philip as he was laid to rest at St George’s Chapel in the castle grounds.

Thames Valley Police had warned people stay away, and only a few were present in the town during the morning.

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The King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery make their way down the Long Walk as they leave Windsor Castle (Andrew Matthews/PA)

However, as the day went on, hundreds arrived in the sunshine to pay tribute, wearing Philip-themed clothing, waving Union flags and holding flowers.

At 3pm the crowd joined the nation for a minute of silence before briefly applauding.

Among them was artist Kaya Mar, 65, who stood alongside an oil painting of Philip that he created last week.

A group of people could also be seen wearing custom face masks bearing Philip’s face.

Leisha Brace told the PA news agency: “We’re down here because we love the duke and he’s very important to us in the UK.

“We’re here to support the Queen and the royal family because it’s nice for them to know there’s people out here that miss him. We want to be there for her.”

Victoria Nicholson said: “I love him to pieces, he would always say something quite rude – or people would take it quite rude – but I loved him for that.

“He was human, and I think it was him putting people at ease, he always managed to do that.”

She added: “I think the turnout is great, people are being quite sensible and I know it’s not too busy but I think people should be here.”

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People observe a minute’s silence on the Long Walk outside Windsor Castle (Andrew Matthews/PA)

Duygu Gunes, originally from Turkey, said: “Philip is kind of a celebrity to us, so we are here.

“Obviously this is an event, like something if you have the chance should witness, it’s once in a lifetime so we want to be here.

“I was here for Harry and Meghan’s wedding, it was a lot more crowded,” she added.

“Today I think it’s alright, because of Covid not many people have turned up.”

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Police were patrolling the crowds in Windsor Great Park (Andrew Matthews/PA)

Windsor resident Jay Schotting said: “We’re just surprised that there’s more police and security than there are people but I suppose with Covid people are staying away.”

Chris Imafidon, from Essex, who met Phillip on a few occasions, said it was a “disgrace” that more people were not in Windsor due to coronavirus restrictions.

“It’s such a mediocre service for a great man, his contribution to helping working-class people in general has been enormous.

“He has done so much for this country, there should be a big public celebration of his life.

“People have been asked not to come, so I think it will be a quiet atmosphere, I just feel so sad,” he added.

A large police presence had been in place throughout the day, with armed officers on buildings overlooking the castle.

Officers with sniffer dogs were also seen around the Berkshire town.