The minister of the church used by the royal family when at Balmoral Castle has called Prince Philip “one of us”, as he paid tribute ahead of the duke’s funeral.
The Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral will take place at St George’s Chapel in the grounds of Windsor Castle at 3pm tomorrow.
Reverend Kenneth MacKenzie is the minister at Braemar and Crathie and domestic chaplain to the Queen, who visits the church for Sunday services when staying at the castle with members of her family.
He said many “tribes and nations” had laid claim to Prince Philip following his death and he wanted to do so on behalf of the north-east.
Rev MacKenzie said: “Let me try to set the record straight – I think the Duke of Edinburgh was one of us.
“I make this claim on behalf of those who live in the north-east of Scotland. Where early on the duke famously received a formal education and where, by his own acknowledgment, he would later learn even more by walking in the footsteps of those who loved and cared for the land and forests of upper Deeside.
The duke was always interested in the church.
Rev Kenneth MacKenzie
“At the risk of sounding even more parochial, I make my ‘one of us’ assertion as a person who serves in a local church.
“The duke was always interested in the church at the national and institutional level, but his interest did not stop there.
“He was never slow to question how this ‘so-called faith’ was being lived out in any given parish and community – and speaking for myself, I loved him for it.”
Flowers were left outside the gates of Balmoral Castle on the day of the duke’s death.
One bunch was wrapped in brown paper inscribed with the words “May you rest in peace Prince Philip Duke of Edinburgh. Thank you for your legacy”.
There will only be 30 mourners at the funeral, due to coronavirus restrictions.
Buckingham Palace said the Queen faced “some very difficult” decisions selecting the mourners from the 800-strong congregation originally planned.
Reverend Neil Gardner, minister of Canongate Kirk in Edinburgh and a fellow domestic chaplain to the Queen, said it is the right that the public should record their “high appreciation” as the duke is laid to rest.
He said: “When Philip of Greece, as he was in those days, was appointed Guardian – the equivalent of head boy – at Gordonstoun in the Easter term of 1939, Kurt Hahn described him as having ‘the greatest sense of service of all the boys in the school’.
“Two years later he was on duty as a midshipman onboard HMS Valiant off the southern coast of Greece when he was mentioned in despatches for his courageous efforts during the Battle of Cape Matapan.
“As the Queen and the royal family prepare to lay Prince Philip to rest, it is only right that we record our high appreciation too.”