The Queen says she has been touched by all the tributes that had been paid to her husband Prince Philip, her first public remarks since his death earlier in April aged 99.
“While as a family we are in a period of great sadness, it has been a comfort to us all to see and to hear the tributes paid to my husband, from those within the United Kingdom, the Commonwealth and around the world,” the Queen, who celebrated her 95th birthday on Wednesday, said.
“My family and I would like to thank you all for the support and kindness shown to us in recent days. We have been deeply touched, and continue to be reminded that Philip had such an extraordinary impact on countless people throughout his life.”
The Queen’s message came amid reports grandson Prince Harry has already flown home to Los Angeles, despite earlier speculation he might stay in Britain for her birthday.
There are multiple media reports that the Duke of Sussex had returned to California by Tuesday afternoon (local time), to be with his pregnant wife Meghan Markle and their son Archie.
Photos of the prince leaving Los Angeles airport were published by The Sun. It said his vehicle was sighted hours later in the Californian community of Montecito, where he and Meghan live.
Prince Harry was in Britain for little more than a week, spending most of that time in quarantine at his official London residence, Frogmore Cottage, before attending his grandfather’s funeral at nearby Windsor Castle.
It was his first trip to Britain in more than a year, and came just weeks after the Sussexes’ bombshell TV interview with Oprah Winfrey, in which they accused the royal family of racism and failing to support the duchess as she struggled with her mental health while pregnant with Archie.
There had been speculation that the Duke of Edinburgh’s death had sparked something of a royal reunion, with Harry intending to spend a bit longer in Britain to see more of his family.
It came after speculation the feuding brothers and their father, Prince Charles, had spent at least two hours in “peace talks” in the Queen’s private gardens following the funeral.
Prince Charles, who is reportedly “desperate” for reconciliation, is said to have invited Harry and William, joined by the Duchess of Cambridge, on a walk to clear the air.
But Harry apparently decided not to stay after all.
The Duchess of Sussex – who was advised by her doctors not to travel for Prince Philip’s funeral is due to give birth to the couple’s second child within weeks.