Fans who gather each Christmas to see the Royal Family at their Norfolk estate have spoken of their sadness at the Duke of Edinburgh’s death.
Prince Philip died on Friday morning at Windsor Castle aged 99. He is the longest-serving consort in British history.
Floral tributes have been left at the Queen’s Sandringham Estate.
Mary Relph, who has visited Sandringham on Christmas Day since 1988, said she “shed a tear” when she heard the news.
image captionRoyalist Mary Relph said she shed a tear when she heard that the duke had died
The 87-year-old said: “It’s very sad, I would’ve loved to have seen him live to 100 but I think he was a very unwell man.”
She said they “all got on well” with him at Sandringham and he “used to chat to us”.
image captionEdna Rooke and her grandchildren Hemi and Sana were among those placing flowers at the gates at Sandringham
Edna Rooke, from King’s Lynn, who laid flowers at Sandringham Estate, said the duke had been a “marvellous member of the Royal Family” and “everybody loved him”.
Mrs Rooke, who was with her grandchildren Hemi and Sana, aged nine and eight, said: “For the people of King’s Lynn, the Royal Family are very close to their hearts, they’re neighbours.”
Janet Hickey, who was at Sandringham Estate with her niece Maria McDonnell, said she felt “very sad”.
“I think the Queen is going to be very, very lost. They’ve been together a lifetime,” she said.
At the scene: Laura Devlin, BBC News Online
Visitors came to Sandringham, as they have throughout the Easter break, to walk their dogs and enjoy the fresh air.
But joining them today were what seemed like just an equal number of reporters, photographers and police officers.
Barriers and police sealed off the main entrance for vehicles to allow people to lay flowers at the gates.
A few dozen bouquets lay by the wrought iron gate, one accompanied by a card for the Queen.
In the distance, a flag was flying at half-mast on Sandringham House.
Peter Gray, 60, who lives with his wife Stella, 61, on the Sandringham estate in the hamlet of Babingley, said he was “at a loss”.
image captionPeter and Stella Gray said they were “at loss” after hearing of the duke’s death
He said: “The duke and the Royal family have been a part of my entire life because I was born within a couple of miles of Sandringham and have lived in the presence of the Royals since I was born in 1960.
“My wife Stella has great affection for the duke, as do I, and today is very, very sad, and we are at loss.”
Members of the Royal Family had spent Christmas at the estate in Sandringham for 32 years until last year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
image captionPrince Philip “got on well” with royal watchers on the Sandringham estate
The west Norfolk residence was also where the duke spent much of his retirement after he stepped down from royal duties in 2017.
She said: “My thoughts are with our Queen and the Royal Family on this sad day, his death is a huge loss.”
image captionThe Duke of Edinburgh captured visiting the church at Sandringham in December 2017
Tom Tokelove, from Dersingham, said the duke’s death was “extremely sad”.
The 31-year-old, who regularly attends Sandringham on Christmas Day, said: “He has been through the wars a little bit the last few years but he has been like a tank and got through it, he was quite a strong character.”
He added: “It’s sad for the Queen, he was almost 100 years old and that would’ve been a major anniversary to mark, but 99 is still incredible, especially with the life he has had. He worked his whole life. That’s dedication.”
image captionFlowers have been left at the Norwich Gates at Sandringham Estate following the duke’s death
Lord Lieutenant of Norfolk Lady Philippa Dannatt described the duke as “quite genuinely the most wonderful person”.
She said: “He had a great sense of humour, a wonderfully dry side to him but was also immensely compassionate.”
The Bishop of Norwich, the Right Reverend Graham Usher, said the duke was a “remarkable man”.
image captionThe Bishop of Norwich, the Right Reverend Graham Usher, said the duke’s legacy could be seen in Norfolk
He said: “He absolutely loved Norfolk and over the last few years spent a lot of time living here quietly, and we can see his legacy in the planting of trees, how the estate has been managed and also in how people have taken him, the Queen and other members of the Royal Family to their hearts.”
Norfolk County Council chairman Keith Kiddie described it as a “sad day” and said the duke “served our country with great distinction throughout his life and graced many events in Norfolk”.
Chief Constable Simon Bailey of Norfolk Police added: “With Sandringham being a much-loved country retreat for the Royal Family, our county has a close bond with royal tradition.
“Today, we join with people around the world mourning his loss.”
image captionSome roads were closed around the Sandringham Estate
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