London — The late prince’s funeral was held on Saturday (April 17) at St. George’s Chapel within the grounds of Windsor Castle, at 3 p.m. BST.
His funeral was not a state funeral but a ceremonial royal funeral.
Usually, state funerals in Britain are held for monarchs but Prime Minister Winston Churchill was a rare exception in 1965. A ceremonial royal funeral is similar to a state funeral but it can be more private and does not require parliamentary approval.
Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh passed away last Friday (April 9) at the age of 99. The Greece-born Duke of Edinburgh was the longest-serving consort to a British sovereign and was the husband of Queen Elizabeth II.
Prince Philip’s demise came 12 days before the queen’s 95th birthday on April 21. His passing ushers in a period of national mourning under a long-standing plan known as “Operation Forth Bridge”. The Duke of Edinburgh was referred to by the queen as “my strength and stay.”
At 2.15 BST, the Quadrangle in Windsor Castle was lined with the Household Calvary and the Foot Guards together with military detachments from units that had special connections with Prince Philip on the grass, as reported by BBC.
Ten minutes later, members of the Royal Family and The Duke of Edinburgh’s family who is not taking part in the procession left Windsor Castle by car for St George’s Chapel. When the prince was still alive, he personally helped designed a Land Rover to be used as his hearse. At 2.40 BST, the bands in the Quadrangle stopped playing and the coffin was carried out and placed onto the Land Rover.
Members of the Royal Family walking in the procession left the State Entrance after the coffin and take up their positions. Only 30 guests were allowed to enter St. George’s Chapel due to COVID-19 guidelines. Masks are required to be worn and social distancing practised. Those walking in the procession included Prince Charles, Andrew, Edward and Princess Anne as well as Princes William and Harry. William and Harry did not walk side-by-side.
Princess Anne’s son Peter Phillips, her husband Vice Admiral Sir Tim Laurence and Earl of Snowdon joined the procession as well. Members of the duke’s staff followed behind them, including his private secretary Brigadier Archie Miller Bakewell, a personal protection officer, two pages and two valets.
According to British media, the British royals are all to wear civilian clothing at Prince Philip’s funeral to avoid awkwardness over which princes are entitled to military uniform. Otherwise, the funeral would have highlighted former British Army captain Prince Harry’s loss of honorary military titles after his shock departure from royal life last year.
Another potential clash might arise with the monarch’s second son, Prince Andrew, who is a former Royal Navy helicopter pilot who saw action in the 1982 Falklands War. His friendship with the convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein has caused him to be sidelined from public duties. Prince Andrew was set to take the honorary rank of admiral for his 60th birthday but the appointment was put on hold.
According to The Sun, there would have been “serious displeasure” in the Navy if he went ahead with the uniform plan. It has been reported by the Daily Telegraph that the royals had held “intense discussions” to allay concerns about embarrassing the family if Andrew and Harry — the only royals to have seen frontline service — were not wearing uniforms. Meghan Markle, Prince Harry’s wife did not attend the funeral as she is pregnant. Boris Johnson was not present in the procession as well, as he left the position for a royal family member instead.
The procession started at 2.45 BST and it was led by the band of the Grenadier Guards. It started from the Quadrangle to the Horseshoe Cloister. The Major General’s party and military chiefs of staff followed behind the band. The Land Rover followed, flanked by pallbearers from the Royal Marines and other regiments and corps associated with the duke. The Royal Family members and staff follow behind.
Queen Elizabeth II travelled separately at the rear of the procession in the State Bentley, entering St George’s chapel through the Galilee Porch. The queen was dressed entirely in black and her face was covered with a black mask. Her black hat covered most of her face but it was obvious that she is in mourning.
Personnel from the Royal Navy, Royal Marines, The Highlanders, 4th Battalion Royal Regiment of Scotland and the Royal Air Force lined the procession route. In one-minute intervals, guns were fired by The King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery from the East Lawn throughout, as a bell tolls in the Curfew Tower, at the west end of the castle.
At approximately 2.53 BST, the Land Rover arrived at the West Steps of St George’s Chapel. The guard of honour and band from the Rifles Regiment met the procession. Members of the Household Cavalry lined the West Steps and a Royal Navy “piping party” piped a nautical call known as “the Still” as the coffin is carried up the steps to the chapel.
The coffin, draped with the duke’s standard, with a wreath and the duke’s naval cap and sword on top, was met by the dean of Windsor, together with the Archbishop of Canterbury, for the service. Only royal family members were allowed to go in the chapel while the rest of the procession remained outside.
At exactly 3 p.m. BST a minute’s silence was observed in memory of the duke. A gun is fired by The King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery to mark the start and end of the Silence. Inside the chapel, the funeral service started as the coffin is carried to the Quire, and placed on a platform called a catafalque.
Members of the Royal family and members of The Duke of Edinburgh’s family arrived at the Galilee Porch and are conducted to the Dean’s Cloister as reported by CNN. They were then conducted from the Dean’s Cloister to the Galilee Porch to view the procession and await the arrival of Her Majesty The Queen.
Prior to his death, the Duke has selected the songs for his funeral and they were sung by the Choir of Four. Because of the COVID-19 restrictions, a full choir was replaced by just four singers. The service was led by the Right Reverend David Conner, KCVO, Dean of Windsor while the Blessing was pronounced by the Most Reverend and Right Honourable Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury.
The service was poignant and sombre as members of the Royal family mourned the loss of their loved one. The Queen sat alone and her grief was evident even though most of her face was covered. During the service, hymns were sung, Scriptures were read and beautiful prayers spoken. The duke’s coffin is draped in his personal flag, his standard. The flag represents elements of his life, from his Greek heritage to his British titles.
When the duke got engaged to the then Princess Elizabeth in 1946, he renounced his Greek title and became a British citizen, taking his mother’s anglicised name, Mountbatten. The Mountbatten family is therefore also represented on the standard, alongside the castle from the arms of the City of Edinburgh – he became Duke of Edinburgh when he got married.
Back in the nave, the choir has left and in their place, the Buglers of the Royal Marines and State Trumpeters of the Household Cavalry. The buglers play the “Last Post,” followed by the State Trumpeters sounding the Reveille.
As the service draws to a close, the buglers sound “Action Stations,” which is traditionally sounded on a naval warship to signal crew to go to battle stations. The call was requested by Prince Philip. The Archbishop of Canterbury follows with the blessing. The congregation then stands as the choir sings the national anthem bringing the service to an end.
It has been reported by CNN royal correspondent Max Foster that St. George’s Chapel will not be the duke’s final resting place. His body will be moved to lie next to the Queen, his wife of more than seven decades, when she dies.
“He is there in his temporary resting place, actually, with other kings and queens in a large space, a large room underground there at the chapel,” Foster said. “This love story isn’t over … because when the Queen passes, she’ll be buried in the King George VI chapel — her father’s chapel — and Prince Philip will join her there. So this love story isn’t over yet.”
The King George VI memorial chapel is in another part of the church. The Queen’s father, her mother and sister are already buried in the vault./TISG
Follow us on Social Media
Send in your scoops to firstname.lastname@example.org