(AP) — From soccer stadiums to cricket grounds, sports venues in England fell silent for two minutes, black armbands were put on, and flags lowered to half-staff as the death of Prince Philip was marked on Friday.
The Royal family and government told sports authorities that events could continue following the death of the 99-year-old husband of Queen Elizabeth II.
But the BBC took the decision to remove an England women’s football game against France from one of its television channels. The match was replaced by graphics telling viewers that programming on BBC 4 had been suspended and to switch to other channels showing news while the international fixture would be available on only interactive and online services.
Friday’s only Premier League game —- Fulham against Wolverhampton in London —- was still televised on a BT Sport subscription channel. The Premier League initially announced plans to hold a minute’s silence but an additional minute was later added to the silence based on government advice for all weekend fixtures.
Philip held positions in sports bodies throughout his life, including as president of the English Football Association and a 22-year spell as president of the International Equestrian Federation that he used to develop new competitions.
“British sport has lost one of its strongest and, on occasion, boldest advocate,” World Athletics president Sebastian Coe said. “He had an unflinching view of the role of sport in all our neighbourhoods. That belief will be missed.”
Philip was a keen cricketer and he served two spells as president of the Lord’s-based Marylebone Cricket Club, which is regarded as the guardian of the laws of the game. He presented the Lord’s Taverners ECB Trophy to the English cricket champion for 43 years until he retired from royal duties in 2017.
“We owe him a great debt for his support and passion over many decades,” England and Wales Cricket Board chairman Ian Watmore said.
County cricket matches were underway when his death was announced by Buckingham Palace at noon and a two-minute silence was held before the afternoon sessions of play in venues without fans due to the pandemic.
The largely empty Aintree racecourse also fell silent before the second day of racing in the Grand National meeting. Philip was an honorary member of the Jockey Club and would attend flagship racing events to accompany his horse-owning wife. At Royal Ascot in 2012, he presented the queen with the trophy after one of her greatest successes with Estimate winning the Queen’s Vase Stakes.
“That was a special moment, probably for Her Majesty, but also for horse racing as well,” said 20-time champion jockey A.P. McCoy, who also remembered spending time with Philip at Windsor Castle. “He was a very interesting man and a really good polo player in his younger days. He was really keen on carriage driving and really good at it as well.”
Jockeys at Aintree wore black armbands as footballers were asked to do across the weekend at England’s professional leagues, including the Premier League, and for the England women’s international game against Canada — where the queen is also head of state.
The news of Philip’s death broke as Tottenham manager Jose Mourinho was giving a news conference.
“I would like to express my condolences to the Royal family and, to be very honest, say I have the utmost respect for the Royal family,” the Portuguese said. “I believe that it is not just this country that is going to be sharing these feelings because I’m not English, and I know that many like myself, we have the utmost respect.”
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