Britain’s Prince Harry has paid tribute to his grandfather Prince Philip, describing him as “a man of service, honour and great humour,” after flying back to the United Kingdom ahead of the funeral on Saturday.
“He was authentically himself, with a seriously sharp wit, and could hold the attention of any room due to his charm – and also because you never knew what he might say next,” the Duke of Sussex said in a statement published on his Archewell Foundation Monday afternoon.
“He will be remembered as the longest reigning consort to the Monarch, a decorated serviceman, a Prince and a Duke. But to me, like many of you who have lost a loved one or grandparent over the pain of this past year, he was my grandpa: master of the barbecue, legend of banter, and cheeky right ‘til the end,” Harry continued.
“He has been a rock for Her Majesty The Queen with unparalleled devotion, by her side for 73 years of marriage, and while I could go on, I know that right now he would say to all of us, beer in hand, ‘Oh do get on with it!’”
“So, on that note, Grandpa, thank you for your service, your dedication to Granny, and for always being yourself. You will be sorely missed, but always remembered – by the nation and the world. Meghan, Archie, and I (as well as your future great-granddaughter) will always hold a special place for you in our hearts,” Harry added.
He closed with the words “Per Mare, Per Terram” meaning “By Sea, By Land” in Latin – the motto for the UK’s Royal Marines. Philip maintained close ties with the military community throughout his lifetime after completing his naval service in 1953, including holding the position of Captain General of the Royal Marines.
Prince Harry is staying at Frogmore Cottage where he is following coronavirus protocols after traveling from Los Angeles.
The trip is the first time that Harry has returned to the UK since he and his wife Meghan stepped back as senior royals last March.
A royal source told CNN that Prince Charles is “looking forward” to seeing his son.
Prince William said his grandfather was an “extraordinary man and part of an extraordinary generation” in a statement earlier Monday.
The Duke of Cambridge said he was “lucky” to have had Philip’s “enduring presence well into my own adult life” and was grateful that his wife and children had the chance to get to know him.
“I will never take for granted the special memories my children will always have of their great-grandpa coming to collect them in his carriage and seeing for themselves his infectious sense of adventure as well as his mischievous sense of humour!” William’s statement read.
He ended his tribute saying that he and his wife, Catherine, plan to continue to support the Queen in the years ahead as his grandfather “would have wanted.”
“I will miss my Grandpa, but I know he would want us to get on with the job,” he added.
How Harry can attend the funeral
Like any other international traveler returning to the UK, Harry is subject to a quarantine period but he will likely still be able to attend the funeral this weekend.
The existing Covid-19 travel regulations stipulate that travelers must complete a passenger locator form and hold a negative coronavirus test before leaving for the UK. Once in England, visitors must either quarantine at home for 10 days or at a managed quarantine hotel. During the mandatory quarantine, two additional Covid-19 tests are required on days two and eight.
Harry could use the UK government’s “test to release” system, which allows a person to take a private Covid-19 test on the fifth day after arrival to end quarantine early if the test result is negative. They must quarantine while they await their test result.
There is also guidance for mourners entering the country which allows them to leave self-isolation on compassionate grounds which includes “attending a funeral of a household member, a close family member or a friend.” The individual must self-isolate at all other times.
Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, will not be joining her husband for the funeral. She is expecting the couple’s second baby this summer and “has been advised by her physician not to travel to the UK” from California where they live, a Buckingham Palace spokesman said Saturday.
The Queen has approved a ceremony adapted from the plan the Duke of Edinburgh consented to years ago to respect pandemic restrictions.
Prince Philip will be laid to rest in a private funeral at St. George’s Chapel in Windsor, in what is known as a “ceremonial royal funeral,” and will not lie in state, according to the arrangements laid out by the Palace to the press.
Under royal protocol state funerals are usually reserved for monarchs so the duke’s funeral will be similar to that of the Queen Mother in 2002, the spokesman explained.
The revised arrangements have been made in “close consultation” with government and public health officials to meet social distancing guidelines which limit funerals to 30 people.
CNN’s James Frater and Lindsay Issac contributed to this report.