Pope Francis has offered his condolences for the death of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, in a telegram sent to Queen Elizabeth II.
“Saddened to learn of the death of your husband Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, His Holiness Pope Francis offers heartfelt condolences to Your Majesty and the members of the royal family,” read the telegram sent by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin.
The message recalled the prince’s “devotion to his marriage and family, his distinguished record of public service, and his commitment to the education and advancement of future generations.”
“His Holiness commends him to the merciful love of Christ our redeemer,” it added.
“Upon you and upon all who grieve his loss in the sure hope of the resurrection, the Holy Father invokes the Lord’s blessings of consolation and peace,” read the telegram.
Prince Philip died on Friday, April 9, at the age of 99. He spent a month in hospital earlier this year before being released on March 16 to return to the royal residence of Windsor Castle, where he passed away.
Born into Greek and Danish royal families on the Greek island of Corfu in 1921, Prince Philip married Princess Elizabeth in 1947. He was the longest-serving consort in British history. He retired from public engagements in 2017.
The couple has four children, eight grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren.
Queen Elizabeth has had warm relations with popes for 60 years. She first visited the Vatican as princess during the pontificate of Pope Pius XII, a year before her accession to the throne.
Her first visit as queen to the Vatican was on May 5, 1961, when she and Prince Philip were received privately by Pope John XXIII.
Queen Elizabeth made history on Oct. 17, 1980, when she became the first British monarch to make a state visit to the Vatican. During her meeting with Pope John Paul II, now a saint, she welcomed the pope’s plans to visit Great Britain.
The two met again on May 28, 1982 at Buckingham Palace in England. The visit was the first by a pope on English soil. Queen Elizabeth met the pope for the third time in the Vatican on Oct. 17, 2000.
Pope Benedict XVI visited Great Britain in Sept. 16, 2010, during which he met the queen in Edinburgh, Scotland. Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip met Pope Francis in the Vatican on April 3, 2014, during a state visit to Italy.