HUNDREDS of people travelled to Windsor Castle to pay their respects to the Duke of Edinburgh, describing him as “a man of principle who never veered from duty”.

Well-wishers young and old lined the street outside Windsor Castle near the town centre, as crowds of mourners were chaperoned by police to lay flowers and share messages of support to the royal family.

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Buckingham Palace announced Philip’s death just after midday on Friday, issuing a statement that spoke about how the royal family joined with people across the globe “mourning his loss”.

As the sun broke through the clouds during the warm afternoon, Patsy and John Parnell, who live locally in Windsor, took a moment to read messages of condolences laid at the castle gates.

The couple said they would wave at the 99-year-old duke at various events they had attended.

Mr Parnell told the PA news agency: “We’ve walked up and down this road for a long, long time and just feel like the man has reached the ripe old age of 99 and he’s done great things.

“From my point of view this is the first real big dent in the royal family.

“I know they’ve had their ups and downs but this one is so serious, I mean now she (the Queen) is on her own.

“He’s not an easy man to understand, he kept himself to himself, but nevertheless you have to admire that he was a man of principle.

“He stood by his wife and he never veered from duty, I can’t find any fault in him.”

Sian Keen, 25, an event manager from Windsor, carried a bundle of tulips as she made her way to Windsor Castle with her friends to pay tribute to the duke.

She said: “I think for people our age, this is the first royal who has died, I think it has affected us in a way I didn’t think it would at first.

“We wanted to come by, we live close by and thought it was a nice gesture.”

When asked why she made the half-an-hour journey from Wokingham to pay her respects, gym owner Mary Marrison, 40, said: “I think it’s what makes us British, having a monarchy.

“And he’s been the support of our monarch for all of our lives, and I feel like he deserves the respect.”

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Dozens more ambled along The Long Walk to lay bouquets of flowers at Cambridge Gate, which an official said are being moved into the castle.

Emese Tota, a housekeeper from the nearby Princess Margaret Hospital, had been walking her Yorkshire Terrier, Blondie, when she stopped to join mourners.

Some of those stood in the socially distanced gathering took pictures of the growing mass of flowers, while others wearing face masks observed silently.

Ms Tota, 55, described the atmosphere as “heartwarming”, adding: “During the pandemic, every morning when I started work I looked at the castle and I was encouraged by the Queen.

“The duke was ambitious and full of faith.”

George Jones fought back tears as he laid a large bouquet of white lilies.

He crouched at Cambridge Gate with his hands clasped together in prayer as he silently paid tribute to the duke.

The 29-year-old farmer, who travelled from Chelmsford in Essex, described Philip as “a father figure”.

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With tears welling up in his eyes, he said: “I was saying my goodbyes and was feeling slightly overwhelmed.”

Despite having never met the duke, he said: “He is someone who’s been here most of our lives, it’s such a shock and sadness.

“I always looked up to him as a father figure.”

On why he travelled to Windsor Castle, he said: “It was an idea of being close to the family, even in a symbolic way.”