Queen hosts retirement ceremony for former Lord Chamberlain Earl Peel after death of Prince Philip

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The Queen today stoically returned to royal duties four days after the death of her husband the Duke of Edinburgh, official documents have revealed.

The monarch, 94, hosted a retirement ceremony for the former Lord Chamberlain Earl Peel on Tuesday. 

It comes after her husband of 73-years, Prince Philip, passed away aged 99, on Friday at Windsor Castle.

As touching tributes flooded in from across the nation, including flowers left at residences such as Windsor and Buckingham Palace, the family announced two-weeks of royal mourning in the wake of the Duke's death.

But, in a move that typifies the Queen's deep sense of duty, she returned early to bid farewell to Earl Peel - a key royal aide who is retiring after 14 years of service.

The Monarch hosted a retirement ceremony for former Lord Chamberlain Earl Peel (pictured with the Queen in 2013) on Tuesday

It comes after her husband Prince Philip (pictured with the Queen in June last year) passed away, aged 99, on Friday, at Windsor Castle

William Peel, great-great-grandson of founder of the modern Tory party  

William Peel, 3rd Earl Peel, is a great-great-grandson of Prime Minister Sir Robert Peel, one of the founders of the modern Conservative party. 

The businessman served as a hereditary Tory peer from 1973 to 2006 when, on appointment to Lord Chamberlain, he became a crossbench member of the Lords. 

He attended Ampleforth College in Yorkshire before the University of Tours in France and the Royal Agricultural University, Cirencester. 

He was a member of the Prince's Council, which advises the Duchy of Cornwall, from 1993 to 2006.  

Lord Peel was also a member of the Nature Conservancy Council, a since dissolved Government conservation agency, from 1991 to 1996. 

He married Veronica Thompson in 1973 and they had two children together before they divorced in 1987.

Two years later, Lord Peel married Charlotte Soames, daughter of Lord Soames and his wife, Mary Churchill, daughter of Sir Winston Churchill.

They have one child, Lady Antonia Peel, born in 1991. 

Prince Andrew, The Duke of York, recently said his mother is bearing up stoically and the family have been rallying round to support her.

And Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge, has pledged to uphold Philip's wishes and continue to support the Queen and 'get on with the job'.

It was announced at the weekend the monarchy and their households would observe two weeks of royal mourning, with members of the family 'continuing to undertake engagements appropriate to the circumstances,' a royal official said.

The Princess Royal, Prince Anne, took part in her first official event since the death of her father.

She joined, via video-link, the Royal College of Emergency Medicine's Spring Conference in her role as the organisation's patron.

The Earl Peel had overseen arrangements for the duke's funeral - known as Operation Forth Bridge - before handing responsibility to his successor, former MI5 spy chief Baron Parker, just over a week before Philip died peacefully at Windsor Castle.

The Lord Chamberlain's Office, led by the Queen's Comptroller Lieutenant Colonel Michael Vernon, is tasked with the practical side of the day.

But in overall charge is Andrew Parker, Baron Parker of Minsmere, who took up his new role on April 1, following the Earl Peel's retirement after more than 14 years in the post.

The Lord Chamberlain oversees all senior appointments in the household and is the channel of communication between the sovereign and the House of Lords.

The position also ensures co-ordination between Buckingham Palace and Clarence House.

During a ceremony held at Windsor Castle, the Queen accepted her former royal aide's wand and insignia of office.

The official engagement was recorded in the Court Circular - a daily list of the events attended by the Queen and her family.

The Lord Chamberlain's Office, led by the Queen's Comptroller Lieutenant Colonel Michael Vernon, is tasked with the practical side of the day. But in overall charge is Andrew Parker (pictured), Baron Parker of Minsmere, who took up his new role on April 1, following the Earl Peel's retirement after more than 14 years in the post

The Queen 'understands' why pregnant Meghan Markle hasn't flown from US for Prince Philip's funeral 

The Queen reportedly told pregnant Meghan Markle she 'understands' why the duchess has not flown from the US with Prince Harry to Britain to attend Prince Philip's funeral on Saturday.

Meghan, who lives in an £11million mansion in California, allegedly 'wanted' to attend the service for the Duke of Edinburgh but had been advised against making the 10-hour flight by her physician.

Her husband Harry is staying at Frogmore Cottage, the couple's former home in the grounds of Windsor Castle, to quarantine for five days before attending the funeral at St George's Chapel. 

Amid claims in the US that the duchess skipped it to avoid being 'centre of attention', a source in California has insisted that the 94-year-old monarch told Meghan she 'understands' why she did not come.

Revealing she and Harry were 'in contact with the Queen' after Philip's death on Friday, the source also told People magazine that it was 'always a given that Harry would return to England for his grandfather's passing' and that Meghan had 'expressed condolences' when speaking with the grieving monarch. 

Harry landed at London Heathrow Airport via a BA flight from LA at the weekend, making this journey his first back to Britain since his and Meghan's bombshell interview with Oprah Winfrey.

Meghan, who accused the royal family of racism in the explosive TV interview, is pregnant with Harry's second child - a daughter. She is remaining in the US with their one-year-old son Archie.

It said: 'The Earl Peel had an audience of The Queen today, delivered up his Wand and Insignia of Office as Lord Chamberlain and the Badge of Chancellor of the Royal Victorian Order and took leave upon relinquishing his appointment as Lord Chamberlain, when Her Majesty invested him with the Royal Victorian Chain.'

The Queen recently conferred a prestigious honour on the Earl Peel, making him a Permanent Lord in Waiting.

The Armed Forces are stepping up preparations for the duke's funeral which will feature servicemen and women from the Royal Navy, Royal Marines, Army and RAF - alongside top military brass.

Soldiers from the Corps of the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (REME) are reportedly working to prepare the special Land Rover - that the duke helped design - which will carry his coffin on Saturday.

Lieutenant General Paul Jaques, who served with REME, said about the duke, his unit's former colonel-in-chief: 'He was engaged with us and used to visit us probably once or twice every single year since 1969.

'And he had an enormous passion for all things engineering. In his own words 'If it wasn't invented by God, it was invented by an engineer'.

It comes amid reports that the Queen will have to sit apart from family members at her husband's funeral - due to strict Covid rules.

Current guidelines mean anyone attending a funeral must stay at least two meters apart from those outside their household, except when in a support bubble.

However the Queen is not eligible to be in a support bubble, because she technically does not live on her own - and is supported by a team of royal helpers dubbed 'HMS Bubble'.

As other members of the Royal Family are living in other royal residences, it means the Queen may have to sit at least two metres away from relatives at the funeral, according to the Telegraph.

Royal sources confirmed to the paper that the Queen would be alone at the funeral service, unless a member of the Windsor bubble joins her.

A Buckingham Palace spokesperson told the Telegraph: 'We have made it very clear that the service will be Covid compliant.' 

More details of the funeral, which is set to take place at George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle on Saturday, are to be announced on Thursday.

Prince Philip's commitment to the Commonwealth: Queen shares heartwarming pictures as she celebrates Duke's connection with people 'from every walk of life' as he travelled to 70% of the world's countries

By Mark Duell for MailOnline 

The Royal Family today paid tribute to Prince Philip's work abroad, releasing a series of photographs showcasing his work around the Commonwealth as they revealed he had visited 70 per cent of the world's countries.

The Duke of Edinburgh, who died last Friday at Windsor Castle aged 99, made 229 visits to 67 Commonwealth countries on solo visits without The Queen over a 67-year period between 1949 and 2016.

Philip, who completed a total of 22,219 solo engagements and thousands more at the side of his wife, became the Queen's consort when she acceded to the throne in 1952 and completed his last public event in August 2017.

Today, the @RoyalFamily Twitter account released 12 photos of Philip showcasing his work, with the first post saying: 'The Duke of Edinburgh was committed to the Commonwealth, meeting people from every walk of life.

'Since 1949, HRH visited 70 per cent of the world's countries; visited 50 Commonwealth countries; made 229 solo visits, often to the most remote parts of the Commonwealth.' 

February 1977: The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh, both wearing Maori Kahu-Kiwi (Kiwi feather cloaks) at Rugby Park in Gisborne, on the North Island of New Zealand when they attended the opening of the Royal New Zealand Polynesian Festival

December 2003: The Duke of Edinburgh tours the Commonwealth People's Forum in Abuja, Nigeria, on the opening day of the Commonwealth Heads of Governments Meeting

October 1997: The Duke of Edinburgh tries his hand at teaching English to Chitrali children at the Aga Khan School in Bilphok, North West Frontier Province, Pakistan

Undated: Prince Philip was a keen supporter of young people and is pictured here meeting Scouts in an unknown country

This post was accompanied by a photo from February 1977 of Philip with the Queen both wearing Kiwi feather cloaks at Rugby Park in Gisborne, when they attended the opening of the Royal New Zealand Polynesian Festival.

Another image showed the Duke of Edinburgh smiling as he toured the Commonwealth People's Forum in Abuja, Nigeria, in December 2003; while a third showed him meeting Scouts in an undisclosed country.

The fourth image, taken in October 1997, showed the Duke trying his hand at teaching English to Chitrali children at the Aga Khan School at Bilphok in Pakistan in what was then known as the North West Frontier Province.

A second post on the @RoyalFamily account stated: 'The Duke had a number of Commonwealth appointments over the course of his life, including with @thecgf (Commonwealth Sport), @THE_RASC (The Royal Agricultural Society of the Commonwealth) and the Royal Commonwealth Ex-Services League.

'HRH also had military affiliations in Australia, Canada, New Zealand and Trinidad and Tobago.'

This was accompanied by a further four photographs, including one of the Queen with Philip at the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games Baton relay launch ceremony at Buckingham Palace in October 2013.

Another showed Prince Philip meeting medal-winning athletes at the Brisbane Commonwealth Games in September 1982, while a third showed him at the International Fleet Review in Halifax, Canada, in 2010.

The final Twitter post today from @RoyalFamily stated: 'In 1956, HRH founded The Duke of Edinburgh's Commonwealth Study Conferences, bringing together emerging Commonwealth leaders. 

October 2013: Queen Elizabeth II accompanied by Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh attend the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games Baton relay launch ceremony at Buckingham Palace in London

September 1982: Prince Philip meets medal-winning athletes at what is thought to be the Brisbane Commonwealth Games

Undated: The Queen and Prince Philip meet servicemen at an unknown event also highlighted in the series of pictures

June 2010: Prince Philip in front of HMCS St John's after the International Fleet Review in Halifax, Canada

'The @CommonPurpose conferences have continued to this day, and over 10,000 people having participated in The Duke of Edinburgh's leadership programs.'

Three pictures accompanying this post showed him at Australian National University in Canberra in May 1968, in Canada in May 1980 and at a Buckingham Palace reception for Commonwealth leaders in April 2014.

A fourth Twitter post added: 'The Duke of Edinburgh held Patronage appointments in 12 different Commonwealth countries, including: @BNTBahamas, @Ngr_Brit_Asso, @SLSAustralia and @OutwardBoundCan.' 

A similar Instagram post was also published by @theroyalfamily account today, which featured all the pictures on Twitter plus two more - including one of Philip during a walkabout in Melbourne in October 2011.

It comes as hundreds of politicians and peers shared personal tributes to the Duke of Edinburgh as his grandsons hailed him as an 'extraordinary man' and a 'legend of banter'.

The Duke of Cambridge and Duke of Sussex recalled their grandfather as an individual 'authentically himself' filled with warmth and wit and devoted to the monarch, as they joined the nation in honouring his memory. 

May 1968: Prince Philip at Australian National University in Canberra opening the Sixth Commonwealth Study Conference

May 1980: The Duke of Edinburgh stands with Commonwealth Study Conference participants in Canada

April 2014: The CSCLeaders conference, a programme for Commonwealth leaders, has a reception at Buckingham Palace

On a day of eulogies for Philip yesterday, hours of tributes were also heard in the Parliaments of London, Edinburgh and Cardiff - including by more than 100 MPs in the House of Commons.

William and Harry released separate statements to pay tribute to Philip, with the older brother pledging to uphold his grandfather's wishes and continue, along with wife Kate, to support the Queen and 'get on with the job'.

Reflecting on how his grandfather's 'century of life was defined by service', William added: 'I feel lucky to have not just had his example to guide me, but his enduring presence well into my own adult life - both through good times and the hardest days.'

He added: 'My grandfather was an extraordinary man and part of an extraordinary generation. Catherine and I will continue to do what he would have wanted and will support the Queen in the years ahead. I will miss my Grandpa, but I know he would want us to get on with the job.'

Harry, who is quarantining ahead of Saturday's funeral at his former home of Frogmore Cottage in the grounds of Windsor Castle, released a more informal statement, describing the duke as 'my grandpa: master of the barbecue, legend of banter, and cheeky right till the end'.

He said: 'My grandfather was a man of service, honour and great humour. 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.' 

October 2011: The Duke of Edinburgh is given flowers for Queen Elizabeth II during a walkabout in Melbourne, Australia

A second further image released on Instagram showcasing how Prince Philip was 'committed' to the Commonwealth

Prime Minister Boris Johnson led the tributes in the Commons, saying Philip 'touched the lives of millions'.

'It is fitting that on Saturday his Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh will be conveyed to his final resting place in a Land Rover which Prince Philip designed himself, with a long wheel base and capacious rear cabin,' he said.

'Because that vehicle's unique and idiosyncratic silhouette reminds the world that he was above all a practical man, who could take something very traditional - whether a machine or, indeed, a great national institution - and find a way by his own ingenuity to improve it, to adapt it for the 20th and 21st century.'

Other politicians described Philip as a 'role model', and said his 'greatest memorial' was his 73-year marriage to the Queen. 

Over the weekend, Philip's four children spoke movingly about the loss of their father and how the Queen was being very 'stoic' after losing her husband of 73 years who died peacefully on Friday. 

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