The Australian prime minister and governor general have paid tribute to Prince Philip, who has died aged 99, saying he was “no stranger to Australia”, having visited the country more than 20 times.
Scott Morrison said Australians sent their love and deepest condolences to Queen Elizabeth and the royal family. He stated Philip “embodied a generation that we will never see again”.
“The Commonwealth family joins together in sorrow and thanksgiving for the loss and life of Prince Philip,” Morrison said in a statement. “God bless from all here in Australia.”
In televised comments to reporters on Saturday, Morrison made a rare but unabashed display of monarchism, reciting from God Save the Queen and addressing his remarks direct to Queen Elizabeth.
“While your strength and stay, your majesty, may now have passed, Jenny and I pray that you will find great comfort in your faith and your family at this time,” Morrison said.
“But we also, your majesty, say to you as a Commonwealth, let us also now be your strength and stay, as you continue to endure, as you continue to serve so loyally and so faithfully, as you have done over so many generations.
“Let us be there now for you, your majesty, and allow us to send our love to you on this, I am sure, one of your most sad of days.”
In paying tribute to Prince Phillip, Morrison said there were few such “towering figures” that have endured for so long in public life.
“His presence and service [have been] a reassurance, a reminder of the stability we so often need to a world that can be so uncertain. With his passing, we say farewell to another of the greatest generation.”
Morrison said flags would be lowered in honour of the Duke of Edinburgh and the government would outline further details about Australia’s remembrance of the prince in coming days. Later on Saturday there will be a 41-gun salute outside Parliament House.
“Prince Philip was no stranger to Australia, having visited our country on more than 20 occasions,” Morrison said in his statement on Friday night.
“Through his service to the Commonwealth he presided as patron or president of nearly 50 organisations in Australia. Given his own service, Prince Philip also had a strong connection with the Australian Defence Force.”
The federal Labor leader, Anthony Albanese, said: “Prince Philip’s death brings to an end one of the most remarkable and enduring partnerships of our time.
“While we mourn the death of Prince Philip, our grief is at least softened by the fact that we are also celebrating a long and a truly remarkable life.”
Former Liberal Australian prime minister John Howard described Prince Philip as “a great combination of dignity, tradition and informality”.
“He had a great sense of humour,” Howard said. “He gave short shrift to political correctness when he encountered it, and that endeared him to millions of people.”
The governor general, David Hurley, addressed Australians in a televised address following Philip’s death on Friday.
Hurley said it was a “sad and historic day” and he called on Australians to “reflect and give thanks for his royal highness’s lifetime of service, devotion and commitment”.
“On behalf of the Australian people, I extend our deepest condolences to Her Majesty and her family, to the people of the Commonwealth, and to all people who will share in this sad news,” he said.
“We give thanks for the Duke of Edinburgh’s service, his loyal and loving devotion to Her Majesty, and his commitment to Australia, the Commonwealth, and all her people. May he rest in peace.”
Philip had been in poor health for some time. He announced in May 2017 he was withdrawing from royal engagements.
The royal family said in a statement on Friday night that it was “with deep sorrow that Her Majesty the Queen has announced the death of her beloved husband, His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh”.
“His Royal Highness passed away peacefully this morning at Windsor Castle,” the statement said.
Hurley said Philip had visited Australia 21 times including on each of Queen Elizabeth’s state visits. He described the Duke of Edinburgh as a “popular, engaged, and welcome visitor to our shores”.
“His impact was profound – not least on the more than 775,000 young Australians who have participated in the Duke of Edinburgh’s international awards scheme since it began here in 1959,” he said.
“Many Australians will have a personal memory of His Royal Highness, and many around the world will, in coming days, reflect on his remarkable life and legacy.”
Australia’s first female prime minister, Julia Gillard, said Prince Philip’s death would be mourned by “millions around the world”.
The Duke of Edinburgh was controversially knighted by another Australian prime minister, Tony Abbott, in 2015, a decision that the staunch monarchist later admitted was “injudicious”.
Abbott said on Friday the world seemed a “little emptier tonight” because Prince Philip had been a “part of our lives for so long it’s hard to grasp that he’s gone”.
“He’s lived a long life of duty and service – to the whole of the Commonwealth but above all to his Queen,” Abbott said in a statement.
“Even as we mourn his passing, we should be uplifted by his example.”
The premier of New South Wales, Gladys Berejiklian, said the Duke of Edinburgh had a “strong and lengthy relationship with NSW visiting our state many times during his life”.
“While we mourn his passing at the age of 99, it is the occasion to offer thanks for a very long and dedicated life of service,” she said.