Flags are flying at half-mast as West Norfolk prepares to say a final farewell to Prince Philip, a “much-loved member of the community”.
The Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral is to be held in Windsor tomorrow (Saturday) and the nation is to pay its respects with a minute’s silence at 3pm.
Tributes have been flooding in from West Norfolk charities, civic leaders, community groups and “neighbours” on the royal estate, with flowers left at Sandringham House just minutes after the Duke’s death was announced last Friday lunchtime.
Police closed the road as residents immediately began to place bouquets, tributes and colourful children’s drawings at the Norwich Gate.
Covid restrictions prevent people from gathering at Sandringham or other royal residences to pay their respects, but King’s Lynn Minster has become a focal point, opening daily to provide a place for mourners to reflect, pray and light a candle in the Duke’s memory.
Admiration for the Duke’s dedication and tireless support for the Queen shone through in tributes, along with his love for West Norfolk.
The prince, who would have turned 100 in June, had been at Windsor Castle with the Queen for the latest lockdown, but spent much of his final years on the Sandringham estate, living quietly at Wood Farm.
Speaking in the House of Commons, North West Norfolk MP James Wild said the Duke enjoyed “its sanctuary to read, paint and entertain”.
“In the historic villages around Sandringham, there are small, close-knit communities where there is great respect and admiration for him,” Mr Wild told members.
“Villagers recall how approachable the Duke was, the keen interest he took in their lives and how he enjoyed chatting at the sawmill and other parts of the estate to find out the gossip and how things were going.
“Prince Philip, Her Majesty and the royal family are much-loved members of these communities.”
Lorne Green, Police and Crime Commissioner for Norfolk, said the county provided the Duke with “a place of refuge, retreat and peace”.
“Prince Philip served this country with dedication and commitment and will be remembered across the world for his loyalty and devotion to Her Majesty the Queen,” Mr Green said.
“Closer to home, the Prince was a familiar face at Sandringham and was known for his love of the estate and beautiful Norfolk countryside, choosing to retire there when he stepped back from public duties in 2017.
“Norfolk Constabulary plays a vital role in ensuring the safety of the royal family at Sandringham and I know that my colleagues in the constabulary take great professional pride in this responsibility.
“As a county, Norfolk enjoys a special relationship with the royal family through the Sandringham estate.
“While the loss of His Royal Highness will be met with sadness by so many, we can also know that the county we call home and the countryside and places we love have also been a place of refuge, retreat and peace for him for many years.”
Norfolk’s Chief Constable Simon Bailey said Prince Philip’s death was a “great sadness”.
“He has demonstrated unwavering support to Her Majesty the Queen. We hold great admiration for His Royal Highnesses’ contribution to the lives of young people through the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award along with his support of hundreds of organisations,” he said.
“With Sandringham being a much-loved country retreat for the royal family, our county has a close bond with royal tradition.
“We join with people around the world mourning his loss.”
Due to Covid restrictions, there is an online book of condolence on the Royal.uk website. Condolences can also be posted to Civics Office, The Town Hall, King’s Lynn, PE30 5DQ.