Buckingham Palace confirmed on Friday, April 9, that the Duke of Edinburgh died two months before his 100th birthday. A source tells Us Weekly exclusively that the queen, 94, alerted her children, including Prince Charles, Princess Anne and Prince Andrew, on Friday morning. The monarch also reached out to grandsons Prince William and Prince Harry, who were “devastated” by the news.
“Prince Philip had been in poor health recently, but the loss was still a surprise,” the source adds.
The late royal was hospitalized as a “precautionary measure” in February and remained under doctors’ care for 28 days. He returned home from King Edward VII’s Hospital in March “following treatment for an infection and a successful procedure for a preexisting condition.”
During Philip’s recovery, Harry, 36, and wife Meghan Markle opened up about their lives as senior royals in a revealing tell-all interview. The CBS special, which aired on March 7, was the pair’s first major televised event since they relocated to California in March 2020 following their initial royal exit. As “funeral arrangements are already being put into place” for the late duke, Harry’s grandmother is hopeful that he’ll join the rest of the family to pay tribute.
“The queen wants Harry to be there,” the insider says of the funeral. “Harry is hopeful that he’ll be able to return home to honor his grandfather, who he had a close bond with.”
Any plans to travel back to the U.K. will be made more complicated by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. While the government has placed the country under lockdown until June, visiting from abroad requires two negative COVID-19 tests and a 10-day quarantine. Philip’s funeral will likely “be small,” the source adds, with “only a select few” in attendance due to the global health crisis.
Prior to the former naval cadet’s death, Harry and Meghan, 39, were keeping Philip in their thoughts from across the pond. When the Suits alum learned of her grandfather-in-law’s February hospitalization, she reached out to the royal family personally.
“I just picked up the phone and I called the Queen just to check in. I just called, that’s what we do,” she said in a clip from the couple’s March sit-down.
The Sussexes have yet to publicly address the royal family’s loss. William, 38, and wife Duchess Kate have also not made an official statement, but per royal protocol, are expected to halt their engagements out of respect. The queen is also putting work on the back burner for the time being as she observes an eight-day mourning period for her husband.
Changes were also made to the Kensington Royal Instagram and Twitter accounts, which previously featured a picture of the Cambridge family as the icon. The social media accounts now display William and the 39-year-old duchess’ monogram, while a black-and-white picture of Philip was made their Twitter banner. The official royal family Instagram page also updated its icon.