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In a speech marking her diamond jubilee in 2012 her majesty the queen described her husband as her “constant strength and guide” and there is no doubt that he has made an immeasurable contribution to our monarchy and our nation.

Prince Philip has been that source of strength as a husband for nearly 75 years and for nearly 70 years the longest serving consort to a British Monarch. He was forthright, intelligent and forward-thinking; serving as patron to some 800 organisations and leaving his most lasting legacy through the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Scheme, something which changed and inspired many young lives.

Again the words of Her Majesty the Queen sum up his lifetime of service, that we “owe him a debt greater than he will ever claim, or that we will ever know”.

Throughout his life, Prince Philip exemplified the qualities of duty ,sacrifice and service to country and to commonwealth and all carried with great humanity and great humour. We here in Northern Ireland take pride too that Northern Ireland boasts the highest participation levels in his other crowning achievement, the Duke of Edinburgh's Award Scheme.

It is significant that he attended every Gold presentation in Northern Ireland and presented the awards to young people. In fact he visited Northern Ireland on 56 different occasions.

Prince Philip served our nation first in the Royal Navy during the Second World War and then through a lifetime of public service within the Royal Family. Kneeling before the queen at her Coronation service he promised to be her “liege man of life and limb”. There can be no doubt that he fulfilled that role but also accomplished so much in his own right.

Our thoughts and prayers, along with those from across our country and around the world are with Her Majesty the Queen and the entire Royal Family at this time.

Our nation has lost a great servant – indeed a remarkable and extraordinary man – but his legacy will live on – God bless the Royal Family.