DUDLEY Council is flying the Union Flag at half mast as a mark of respect following the sad death of the Duke of Edinburgh.

A virtual book of condolence is also to be opened.

Kevin O’Keefe, chief executive of the council, said: "We are greatly saddened to hear of the death of the Duke of Edinburgh and on behalf of myself and the people of Dudley borough I would like to send sincere condolences to the royal family at this time.

"The Duke of Edinburgh served as Queen’s consort for 70 years, dedicating his life to public service and the borough is privileged to have welcomed the Duke of Edinburgh on two occasions during the Duke’s lifetime. He first visited with the Queen in 1957 as part of a tour of Staffordshire and Worcestershire and in 1977 as part of the celebrations to mark the Queen’s Silver Jubilee.

"As a mark of respect, we will be flying the Union Flag at half mast, and there will be a virtual book condolence for people to sign."

The Duke visited the borough with Her Majesty The Queen in April 1957 as part of a tour of Staffordshire and Worcestershire, covering 11 towns in the Midlands including Halesowen, Oldbury, Rowley Regis, Dudley, Brierley Hill, Stourbridge, Hagley, Kidderminster and Worcester.

The day included a tour of a Brierley Hill glassworks, an open topped drive through Stourbridge’s Mary Stevens Park, lunch at Dudley Town Hall and a visit to the famous forge of Walter Somers Ltd., where, among many operations, they witnessed the forging of great crankshafts for ocean-going vessels.

The couple were cheered by thousands of people along the route, with massive crowds waiting and cheering patriotically at Mary Stevens Park, Stourbridge, at Priory Street as she visited Dudley Council House and in Halesowen as the royal car left the borough.

The royal couple returned on July 27, 1977, as part of the celebrations to mark her Silver Jubilee with a visit to the Council House, Dudley, where they met the Mayor of Dudley Councillor Jim Taylor, and other officials while crowds lined the streets.

This was part of a nationwide tour of the country, which saw the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh go to 36 counties across Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

Other leaders across the West Midlands have been paying tribute to Prince Philip who died peacefully at Windsor Castle early today.

Andy Street, the Mayor of the West Midlands, said: “I am incredibly saddened to hear of the passing of His Royal Highness Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh. For more than seven decades he has been the rock by our Queen’s side, as well as being an incredible public servant.

“I know many people across the West Midlands will have personal memories of the Prince from his visits, as well as from all his work to support so many charities and organisations. My thoughts are with the Royal Family at this very sad time.”

Deborah Cadman OBE, chief executive of the West Midlands Combined Authority said: “Our thoughts are, of course, with the Queen and members of the Royal Family at this very sad time for them. But the news is sad for us all and the passing of Prince Philip will be mourned across the region.

“Many of us will have happy memories of the times we’ve welcomed him to the West Midlands during his long life of exemplary public service.”