The Spectator

Portrait of the week: Duke of Edinburgh dies, Covid retreats and questions for Cameron


The Duke of Edinburgh, who was married to the Queen for 73 years, died at Windsor Castle, aged 99. The Queen was said to feel ‘a huge void’. Union flags flew at half mast; gun salutes were fired. For a day the BBC cancelled television schedules and broadcast the same programmes on all its channels. Parliament was recalled a day early. No laws would be passed until after the funeral on 17 April at Windsor, to be attended by no more than 30, in compliance with coronavirus legislation. As a mark of respect, the Prime Minister thought better of being photographed drinking beer in a newly liberated pub garden, though he did have his hair cut. The nation learnt from endless newspaper pages and broadcast media what a difficult and dutiful life the Duke had led. The Prince of Wales said that his ‘dear papa’ would have been ‘amazed by the reaction and the touching things that have been said about him’. The dukedom would devolve upon the Earl of Wessex once Prince Charles became king.

The number of deaths and hospitalisations in the United Kingdom from Covid-19 fell dramatically. Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister, said puzzlingly that the reduction had ‘not been achieved by the vaccination programme’, but by lockdown. In the week preceding 11 April, 254 had died, bringing the total of deaths (within 28 days of testing positive for coronavirus) to 127,080. Healthy people under 30 would not be offered the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency decided. This was because of a possible causal relation with a kind of thrombosis detected in 79 of the 20 million vaccinated people: about one in 250,000. When their turn came, the under-thirties would be offered a different vaccine.

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