SHEPHERDSTOWN, Md. (WDVM) — As the world mourns the death of Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, the pain can be felt across the pond in Shepherdstown, West Virginia.
Valerie Smith has been living in the United States for over 30 years. She came to the U.S. with her husband, who was a nuclear engineer with the British Royal Navy. He appointed to the British Embassy in Washington, D.C. Smith is also a former dancer for the Royal Ballet before taking a teaching role at the Washington School of Ballet.
“Well we all knew he was old, but we never expected him to die. Every time he was sick, which he has been for the last few years, he bounced back,” Smith said. “He’s an institution, so we all just expected him to be there because he was part of Britain.”
Carol Asam is the founder of the Bavarian Inn who also served in the Women’s Royal Naval Service. She is also a member of the Association of the Women’s Royal Naval Service. Before the pandemic, she returned to Great Britain each year to meet with other members as well as Anne, Princess Royal, who served as an admiral in the Royal Navy. Asam was able to meet the Duke of Edinburgh at a military function before he retired from his royal duties.
“I met him at the last Festival of Remembrance that he did and he was going around talking to all of the ex-service people with Prince Harry at the time,” Asam recalled. “And he was just charming.”
Many world leaders have already offered their condolences to the Royal Family including British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson.
“Like the expert carriage driver that he was, he helped to steer the royal family and the monarchy so that it remains an institution indisputably vital to the balance and happiness of our national life,” Johnson said to media members gathered outside of 10 Downing Street.
At the age of 99, Prince Philip was the longest-serving consort in British history, serving alongside Queen Elizabeth II for almost 70 years. According to Buckingham Palace, Prince Philip was a patron, president, or member of more than 780 charities and organizations before stepping back from royal duties in 2017. Prince Philip carried out almost 22,000 royal engagements since Queen Elizabeth’s coronation in 1953.