15. Weekly Newsletter
HRH The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh
On the morning of the 9th of April the death of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, was announced by Buckingham Palace. HRH was the longest-serving royal consort in British history and had been married to HM The Queen for over 73 years. The Prime Minister described the Duke as having “earned the affections of generations here in the United Kingdom, across the Commonwealth, and around the world” and the Church of England delivered a special prayer to give thanks to Prince Philip. Over his inspirational public life he completed 22,219 solo engagements, toured 143 countries and was described by HM The Queen as her “strength and stay”.
Prince Philip of Greece was born in 1921 on the island of Corfu and, following a coup d’etat in the next year, was evacuated by a British warship out of the country. At the age of seven he came to live in England with his Mountbatten relatives and then later boarded at the newly established Gordonstoun school in Scotland. During the Second World War, Prince Philip served in the Royal Navy and became one of Britain’s youngest first lieutenants. In 1947, the Duke married Princess Elizabeth after having known each other for 13 years; later, in 1952 he was given the responsibility to break the news to his wife that her father, the King, had died- thus making her Queen. One of HRH’s most enduring legacies came in 1956 when he founded the ‘Duke of Edinburgh Award’ which empowered young people to learn new skills and has now been completed by over 3.1m British children with even more across 130 other nations. He additionally was the first president of the WWF, president of the International Equestrian Federation, charity patron of the BHF, a patron of the Royal Scottish Academy, patron of the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust, held numerous Commonwealth appointments and many other high profile contributions. The UK remains in a period of national mourning until the Duke of Edinburgh’s Funeral on the 17th of April which will be followed by a National Minute’s silence.
On Sunday the UK recorded the lowest number of COVID-related deaths and cases since September. The number of cases is now below 3,000 per day and deaths are in the low double, sometimes single, digits. However, figures are usually lower over the weekends and the nation has experienced a warm Easter holiday which has encouraged the public to spend less time together indoors- limiting the spread of the virus.
Nationally, 32.2m people have received their first vaccination and a further 7.5m have received their second. Unfortunately, the rollout has slowed in recent days as international shipments have been reduced but new hopes of a Johnson & Johnson-made ‘one-dose’ jab, called ‘Janssen’, is expected to be approved for use imminently. The relaxation of restrictions has seen reduced focus due to the national mourning for the Duke of Edinburgh.
Following months of tight lockdown restrictions: pub gardens, shops, zoos and indoor sports facilities were reopened on Monday. PM Johnson had planed to have a celebratory pint to commemorate the easing but this has been postponed due to the death of the Duke of Edinburgh. However, shoppers have returned to the High Street as non-essential retailers (such as clothing department stores) were allowed to open with queues starting from the early morning. Some forecasts have estimated a much needed boost of £4.5bn in spending and around 15m pints being pulled in the first week alone.
The next major stage in the return to normalcy in the UK will likely begin on the 17th of May. Hotels, B&Bs, cinemas, theatres, outdoor events (up to 10,000 attendees) and indoor eating will be able to resume. It could also be expected that all UK adults (53m) will have been vaccinated 5 days before this deadline. Finally, by the 21st of June it is expected that almost all restrictions will have been lifted .