Philip’s death ‘like someone took him by the hand and off he went’ – Sophie Wessex
The Duke of Edinburgh’s death was so peaceful “it was like someone took him by the hand and off he went”, the Countess of Wessex said.
Speaking to well wishers after leaving a church service at the Royal Chapel of All Saints at Royal Lodge in Windsor on Sunday, Sophie said Philip’s passing was “right for him”.
“It’s such a shock but at the same time you know it’s going to happen but when it happens it’s just this massive, massive hole,” she said.
“It was right for him and it was so gentle, it was just like someone took him by the hand and off he went.
“It was very, very peaceful and that’s all you want for somebody, isn’t it?”
Sophie added: “So I think it is so much easier for the person that goes than the people who are left behind.
“We are all sitting here looking at each other going ‘this is awful’.
“But equally, look at all the tributes.
“It’s just amazing.”
She shared a joke about the manicured lawn of the church yard.
Pointing to the sky, Sophie said: “Well we know if (staff) had not done such a great job, there is one person who would have noticed!”
She was accompanied to the service by the Earl of Wessex and their daughter Lady Louise Windsor.
The couple told reporters the Queen is “thinking of others” before herself as she comes to terms with the loss of her husband of 73 years, the Countess of Wessex has said.
Edward added that his mother was “bearing up” and the royal family appreciated “the wave of affection” for the Duke of Edinburgh from the public since his death was announced on Friday.
The earl said: “That wave of affection for him and just those lovely stories.
“They just mean so much and the tributes have been just fantastic.
“That’s really, really important and we really do appreciate it.”
Referring to the warm wishes that have poured in from around the world, Sophie said it had been “so lovely for so many people to learn about what he did”.
She added: “I just think quite a lot of things that have come out will have surprised some people and how intrinsic he was to every element of society, if you look at it.”
Edward, the Queen and Philip’s youngest child, said his father’s death had been “a terrible shock” but had revealed how much the duke meant “to so many other people”.
“It’s been a bit of a shock. However much one tries to prepare oneself for something like this it’s still a dreadful shock,” he said.
It just goes to show, he might have been our father, grandfather, father-in-law, but he meant so much to so many other people
“And we’re still trying to come to terms with that.
“And it’s very, very sad.
“But I have to say that the extraordinary tribute and the memories that everybody has had and been willing to share has been so fantastic.
“And it just goes to show, he might have been our father, grandfather, father-in-law, but he meant so much to so many other people.
“That outpouring from all over the world (is) very much appreciated, so thank you.”
Sophie said her father-in-law always had time for the people working on the royal estates.
She said: “He always exchanged words with everybody because it didn’t matter what anybody was doing in and around the estate here (at Windsor) and everywhere else, they all meant a lot to him and he always took a very personal interest in everything that they were doing.
“So they all have got stories to tell and most of them are quite funny as well.”
The couple recalled some of the scrapes Philip got into while carriage driving around the Windsor estate.
Smiling, Sophie said Philip had been “pulled out of a few ditches here I seem to remember as well”.
Laughing, Edward said: “In the early days, yes, he used to have a few problems.”
Sophie added: “More recently too.”
Philip took up carriage driving after being forced to retire from polo in 1971 due to a wrist injury.
He was driving competitively just two years later and would go on to teach Sophie, while Lady Louise is also a keen participant.
The sport can be dangerous and Philip had what he dubbed his own “annus horribilis” in 1994 with “no less than eight disasters”.
Edward said: “He means so much to so many people here, and it’s the same for those who lived and worked at Balmoral and Sandringham.
“For all those past and present.
“They’ve all had their own personal memories and stories.
“Our hearts go out to all of them as well.”