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Queen prepares to bid final farewell to Prince Philip

Robert Jobson
·5-min read
Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh attending a garden party in Paris in 2014 (PA)
Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh attending a garden party in Paris in 2014 (PA)

The Queen will tomorrow lead the royal family in paying the final farewell to her “strength and stay” Prince Philip.

Her consort, who died last Friday aged 99, will be laid to rest with the minimum of fuss in Windsor during a poignant, family service — watched on television by millions in Britain and around the world.

The Queen’s grandsons William and Harry, whose rift has made headlines, will pay homage to the Duke of Edinburgh by walking behind his coffin during an eight-minute procession from Windsor Castle —echoing the funeral of Diana, Princess of Wales, in 1997.

However, the two brothers will not be shoulder to shoulder but separated by their cousin — the Queen and Philip’s oldest grandson Peter Phillips.

Ahead of the funeral local school girl Romilly Lloyd, 11, laid flowers at the top of the Long Walk leading up to Windsor Castle this morning. She said: “I think it’s really important we pay tribute to Prince Philip. He was very important to the country and to the Queen.

“We live very close so I’m used to seeing him in the park and he used to wave at our school every year on the way to Ascot. We’re going to miss that.

“I’m going to watch the funeral on TV and take part in the minute’s silence with my family.”

Jeremy Selwyn
Jeremy Selwyn

The duke’s coffin will be carried on a Land Rover that the duke helped engineers adapt for his funeral.

The Band of the Grenadier Guards, followed by the Major-General commanding the Household Division and service chiefs, will walk in front of the Philip’s hearse, with royal family members behind, ahead of his household staff. At the back of the procession in the state Bentley will be the Queen and her lady-in-waiting, who has been part of the monarch’s Covid bubble during lockdown.

The Queen will depart the Sovereign’s Entrance at 2.44pm on the dot — just as the former Royal Navy Commander had planned.

Once inside, the gothic St George’s Chapel the future king William, Duke of Cambridge, will be one step ahead of his brother as the royal family, including the heir to the throne Prince Charles, proceed in pairs.

But all eyes will be on the grieving Queen, who will be 95 this month, as she sits alone in the quire of the chapel.

Only 30 mourners are permitted under government guidelines and the royal family will follow them to the letter. They will remain socially-distanced and wear masks throughout the ceremony.

Mourners will include all of the duke’s children and grandchildren and their spouses, the children of the Queen’s sister Princess Margaret and three of Philip’s German relatives, Bernhard, Hereditary Prince of Baden, Prince Donatus, Landgrave of Hesse and Prince Philipp of Hohenlohe-Langenburg.

Also invited is Philip’s long-time friend and confidante Countess Mountbatten of Burma, who was his carriage driving partner.

Jeremy Selwyn
Jeremy Selwyn

All royal male mourners will wear morning coats with their medals — not military uniform — while the women will wear day dresses.

Philip, who was hospitalised in London for a month earlier this year was the guiding force behind his funeral arrangements.

It reflects his years of service with the Royal Navy. Buglers of the Royal Marines will sound Action Stations during the service at the duke’s request.

It is played on a warship to signal all hands should go to battle stations and is sometimes featured at Royal Navy funerals.

A reduced choir of just four will feature during the service and the guests will follow Covid rules and not sing.

Prince Harry, who has spoken in the past about how he and William were on “different paths” and have good and bad days in their relationship, will not be accompanied by his wife Meghan, who is pregnant and decided not to return from their Los Angeles home on medical advice.

The brothers’ relationship was put under further strain after the Sussexes’ interview with Oprah Winfrey where they accused a royal family member of racism, something William strongly denied.

Asked whether arrangements for the procession reflected the royal siblings’ relationship, a Buckingham Palace spokesman said: “This is a funeral, we’re not going to be drawn into those perceptions of drama, or anything like that, this is a funeral.

“The arrangements have been agreed, and they represent Her Majesty’s wishes, so we’re not going to say anything more on that.”

The head of the armed forces has said the funeral arrangements will reflect the high esteem in which the duke was held by the military.

General Sir Nick Carter, the Chief of the Defence Staff, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “It will reflect military precision and above all, I think, it will be a celebration of a life well-lived. It will also show, I think, how much the armed forces loved and respected him.

“I think he will be very much remembered in the armed forces for the interest he showed in us and, of course, the good humour, wit and empathy that he always had with all of us, particularly the rank and file.

“The military always have a great respect for people who have their values and standards and who indeed have shown great courage, and I think that, when we look back at his war record, that sense of courage and what he did is something all of us have great admiration for.” He dismissed suggestions that the forces will be disappointed at the decision that members of the royal family will not wear military uniform.

“I think we would wish to do what the royal family want to have done. We absolutely respect that,” he said. Tributes have been left all over Windsor as residents were being urged to stay away tomorrow.

Flowers were being laid outside the castle gates while black ribbons have been tied around the lampposts. Meanwhile a knitted memorial depicting the Duke of Edinburgh and the Queen was placed on top of the postbox next to Windsor Castle.

Additional reporting Rachael Burford

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