Prince Philip's death: Why are there 41 gun salutes for the Duke of Edinburgh?

Gun salutes across UK mark the Duke of Edinburgh’s death Credit: PA

Prince Philip has been honoured with 41 gun salutes, and it has led to questions about the tradition.

Saluting batteries across the UK fired 41 rounds, at one round every minute for 40 minutes, from midday to mark the death of the Duke of Edinburgh.

Prince Philip died peacefully in his sleep at Windsor Castle on Friday, Buckingham Palace said. It was two months before his 100th birthday, leaving the Queen and the royal family “mourning his loss”.

The salutes for the duke happened in cities including London, Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast, as well as Gibraltar and from Royal Navy warships.

Ships taking part included HMS Diamond, HMS Montrose and HMNB Portsmouth, while the Royal Gibraltar Regiment joined the salute from the British overseas territory, the Ministry of Defence said.

What is the tradition of gun salutes?

Gun salutes have been fired to mark significant national events since as early as at least the 18th century.

They were used to mark the deaths of Queen Victoria in 1901 and Winston Churchill in 1965. Salutes took place as early as the 14th century when guns and ammunition began to be adopted more widely.

In London, the King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery will use the same guns that were fired for the Queen and the duke's wedding in 1947, and at the Queen’s coronation in 1953.

Prince Philip passed away peacefully at Windsor Castle on Friday morning. Credit: AP

From where are they usually fired?

In London, salutes are fired from the Tower of London, and also either Hyde Park or Green Park, depending on the occasion.

In the case of Prince Philip's death, gun salutes were fired at the following locations:

  • Belfast, Hillsborough Castle, 105th Regiment Royal Artillery

  • Cardiff, Cardiff Castle, 104th Regiment Royal Artillery

  • Edinburgh, Edinburgh Castle, 105th Regiment Royal Artillery

  • Gibraltar, The Royal Gibraltar Regiment

  • London, Woolwich Barracks, The King’s Troop, Royal Horse Artillery

  • London, HM Tower of London, The Honourable Artillery Company

  • HMNB Devonport, HMNB Devonport

  • HMNB Portsmouth, HMNB Portsmouth

  • Ships at sea: HMS Diamond, HMS Montrose

Why the number 41?

The traditional number of gun salutes is 21. The number is a multiplication of what the Royal Navy would normally do at sea.

An extra 20 guns is added when the salute is given from a Royal Park or setting. Hence, the 41-gun salute.

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