The coffin was carried by a military-green Land Rover that Prince Philip helped design at Windsor Castle on Saturday, and the funeral’s austere, meticulously staged décor hinted at the uncertain future of the British monarchy.
A few months shy of his 100th birthday, Prince Philip was laid to rest in St. George’s Chapel on April 9, where Queen Elizabeth II said her final farewells. She was required to wear a mask and keep a safe distance from her children and grandchildren because of pandemic social distancing restrictions, which limited attendance to 30 people.
They were also separated by a cousin as they walked behind the casket of their grandfather Philip. Since his marriage to actress Meghan Markle, Prince Harry’s split from his brother, Prince William, has been made public.
While Prince Philip’s burial was a return to the monarchy’s traditional practices, Prince Harry and Meghan’s wedding featured a gospel choir and an African American preacher. However, Prince Charles did not provide a eulogy, contrary to certain reports.
The readings were given by the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev. Justin Welby, and the Dean of Windsor, the Right Rev. David Conner, rather than members of the family. With only four members of the quartet left after the virus decimated the rest of the world, Philip’s song selections pierced the eerie silence of the chapel.
The royal family sat in silence, their lamps illuminating their features. As the congregation sang a hymn, Harry sat silently in the back of the pew, his chin bowed in reverence.
An officer in the Royal Regiment of Scotland piped in, singing, “Go forth on your voyage from this planet, O Christian spirit,” as Philip’s body was lowered into the royal crypt. In keeping with Philip’s no-nonsense demeanour and proclivity for errors, the fast-paced timetable reflected this.
When his young wife became Queen Elizabeth II in 1953 after the death of her father, George VI, he had given up his military career, but the wedding was replete with military emblems.
The coffin of the Duke was draped in his flag and topped with a sword and a naval hat. Philip sat on nine pillows in front of an altar covered with military symbols while wearing his Royal Air Force wings and field marshal baton, as well as the Order of the Elephant, awarded by Denmark and Greece. Such tiaras were a symbol of his regal lineage as a prince of Denmark and Greece.
The buglers of the Royal Marine Corps can be requested to play “The Last Post” and “Action Station,” a call to war that is rarely played at funerals but can be requested. A British destroyer and battleship acted as a platform for the duke during World War II.
During Philip’s final ride to the chapel, only a custom-built Land Rover Defender captured the militaristic mood. He finally landed on an open back and metal pins to keep his coffin in place after 18 years of experimentation. He suggested painting the house a dark sage green.
At 3 p.m., when Land Rover passed under Windsor’s crenellated towers and arrived at the chapel to the sound of cannons and bells, the nation observed a moment of silence.
By not interrupting popular shows to focus on Philip’s life and legacy, broadcasters such as the BBC and others showed respect for the occasion. When a leader dies in North Korea, a full-court press is commonplace.
Some think the cortege going from Westminster Abbey to Windsor Castle in 2002 to see the death of Queen Elizabeth the queen’s mother, which drew more than 1 million people, was on par with the funeral of her husband in this nation where the queen is venerated.
A professor at King’s College London, Vernon Bogdanor, thinks there is a deep, almost instinctive, reverence for the monarchy in Britain that the media does not understand. It’s “it’s inarticulate” that comes out when it counts the most.
Compared to previous royal festivities, Philip’s funeral was attended by a small number of people. Visitors to Windsor, a town west of London that the castle overlooks, were advised to stay away from Buckingham Palace because of the pandemic. On a calm Saturday, it appeared like the majority of individuals had heeded this counsel.
Philip’s adapted Land Rover was only able to travel a few hundred yards, rather than the 22 miles between Buckingham Palace and Windsor, as initially planned, due to the limits. Standing at attention were soldiers from the Royal Navy and the Royal Marines, as well as members of the Highlanders and the Order of the British Empire.
Unlike monarchs, Queen Elizabeth was not at the front of the parade, as would be expected. Prince Charles and Princess Anne, the Queen’s heir, led the procession.
Because of these limitations, the chapel could only accommodate a specific number of people. While Boris Johnson is said to have given up his place to allow the royal family to invite an additional guest, pregnant Meghan was among those who choose not to attend.
It was a sign that history was going forward and a reminder of Philip’s German heritage because the queen invited German relatives. Hohenberg’s German family was barred from attending their son’s 1947 wedding because of the impending war.