Saturday, 17 April 2021

A Poignant Farewell to the Duke of Edinburgh

Her Majesty the Queen led the Royal family and the nation today in a poignant farewell to the Duke of Edinburgh at St George's Chapel, Windsor.

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As the day began, I was reminded of the words of Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, yesterday: "She's the Queen. She will behave with the extraordinary dignity, extraordinary courage that she always does. And at the same time she is saying farewell to someone to whom she was married for 73 years. I think that must be a very, very profound thing in anybody's life." Last night, the Queen chose one of her favourite photos, which was taken by the Countess of Wessex in 2003 atop the Coyles of Muick on the Balmoral estate, where Her Majesty and Prince Philip enjoyed walks and picnics throughout their life together.

Prince Harry arrived back in England last weekend and has been following all Covid-19 guidelines at his Windsor home, Frogmore Cottage. Harry and his grandfather bonded over their love of the military, and today Harry donned his KCVO Neck Order and Star, Afghanistan Campaign medal, Gold Jubilee medal and Diamond Jubilee.

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The Duchess of Sussex had hoped to join her husband, but did not receive medical clearance from her doctor as she is in the late stages of pregnancy. It's understood Meghan watched the funeral today. Meghan sent a handwritten note to accompany a wreath from her and Harry created by florist Willow Crossley, who worked on the Sussexes' wedding, Archie's christening, and for a Hubb Community Kitchen event. In tribute to the Duke's heritage, the wreath included the national flower of Greece, bear's breeches; sea holly in recognition of his connection with the Royal Marines; lavender for devotion; rosemary for remembrance; campanula for gratitude and everlasting love; and roses in honour of Philip's birthday month June. It was placed in the chapel with wreaths from other family members. I believe it's second from right.

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The funeral has been described by the palace as a "ceremonial royal funeral" rather than a State funeral -- something usually reserved for monarchs. Whilst the pandemic necessitated a small funeral, all elements are very much in keeping with the Duke's wishes for a low-key event.

Indeed, Philip planned his own funeral -- codenamed Operation Forth Bridge -- eighteen years ago with military precision.

Despite the enormity of the day for the monarchy and the family as a whole, the Queen was determined to ensure all Covid-19 guidelines were met, meaning just thirty mourners were invited to the service: the Queen and Philip's children and grandchildren and their respective spouses; Princess Margaret's children, the Earl of Snowdon and Sarah Chatto and her husband Daniel. Also in attendance were the Queen's cousins, the Duke of Gloucester and the Duke of Kent. Prince Philip's great-nephew, the Hereditary Prince of Baden, his nephew the Prince of Hohenlohe-Langenburg, and Philip's cousin the Landgrave of Hess. The late Duke's close friend Countess Mountbatten of Burma (known as Penny Romney) was also present.

Buckingham Palace noted, "The coffin, covered with His Royal Highness’s personal standard and surmounted with his sword, naval cap and a wreath of flowers, will be moved privately from its present location in the private chapel at Windsor Castle to the Inner Hall of Windsor Castle. After prayers are said by the Dean of Windsor in the Inner Hall, the coffin will be carried to the State Entrance by a bearer party found by the Queen’s Company, 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards."

At 2.40 pm, the Duke's coffin emerged from the State Entrance of Windsor Castle into the Quadrangle.

It was followed by a procession led by Charles and Anne followed by Andrew and Edward, William, Princess Anne's son Peter Phillips and Harry, Princess Anne's husband Sir Timothy Laurence, and the Earl of Snowdon. Several members of the Duke's staff joined the procession.

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Prince William, Peter Phillips and Prince Harry.

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The Queen departing the Sovereign's Entrance in the State Bentley.

Her Majesty was accompanied in the car by her lady-in-waiting, Lady Susan Hussey. Part of the 'HMS Windsor Bubble' during the pandemic, Susan is Prince William's godmother and close to the Prince of Wales.

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Following the Royal Salute, the coffin was placed onto a purpose-built Land Rover. Philip began the project almost two decades ago -- with an open top section to carry the coffin made to his specifications.

The hearse was built using a Land Rover Defender TD5 130 chassis cab vehicle, which was made at Land Rover’s factory in Solihull in 2003 and subsequently modified. The original colour was changed from "belize green" to a dark bronze green, echoing the hue of military vehicles. The final changes were made just two years ago.

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The Palace continued:

'The Duke used Land Rovers throughout his adult life and granted his Royal Warrant to Land Rover over 40 years ago. He visited Jaguar Land Rover’s manufacturing facilities on numerous occasions over the decades and accompanied the Queen when she opened Jaguar Land Rover’s new Engine Manufacturing Centre in Wolverhampton in 2014.

Thierry BollorĂ©, Jaguar Land Rover’s Chief Executive said: “We are deeply privileged to have enjoyed a very long and happy association with the Duke of Edinburgh over many decades. We are also honoured that the Land Rover which the Duke designed will be used at the funeral on Saturday. 

"The Duke was a tremendous champion for design, engineering and technology. During his visits to our sites he engaged with hundreds of employees and demonstrated his impressive knowledge and deep interest in vehicle design, engineering and manufacturing. The Duke was a truly remarkable man and will be greatly missed.”

The Duke's fell ponies, Balmoral Nevis and Notlaw Storm, pulled a carriage designed by Philip. Accompanied by two of his grooms, they stood in the Quadrangle as the coffin was carried past. Carriage driving was a great love for the Prince over the past fifty years and he competed in events for decades. In the days following the Duke's passing, his granddaughter Lady Louise Mountbatten-Windsor was seen carriage driving - undoubtedly in honour of her grandfather.

Members of the Windsor household say goodbye.

It was a beautiful day at Windsor.

Members of the Royal family arriving at St George's Chapel.

It was important to the Duke that his military affiliations were included for the funeral. As the procession continued, the route was lined by representatives from the Royal Navy, the Royal Marines, the Royal Air Force, the 4th Battalion Royal Regiment of Scotland and the Highlanders. The King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery fired Minute Guns from the East Lawn of Windsor Castle for the duration of the procession.

Her Majesty arrives at the chapel.

Scenes as the procession continued.

Attendees bowed as the procession passed.

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Below Mike and Zara Tindall.

Princess Eugenie and her husband Jack Brooksbank.

Princess Beatrice and her husband Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi.

Kate bows.

The Duchess of Cambridge, the Duchess of Cornwall and the Countess of Wessex and her children.

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Prince Charles had tears in his eyes as he led the procession.

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A moving scene.

The Bearer Party carried the coffin up the West Steps of the Chapel.

Before pausing for a National Minute's Silence at 3pm.

A moment of pause for Princess Anne who was incredibly close to her father.

Harry with the Earl of Snowdon and Sir Timothy Laurence.

Solemn scenes inside.

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The service was conducted by the Dean of Windsor.

Philip's navy cap and sword along with flowers and a note written by Her Majesty. 

Seeing Her Majesty sitting alone painfully evoked the loneliness families all over the world have endured during the pandemic.

A deeply solemn picture.

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Edward and Sophie with their children Louise and James.

Prince Andrew, Princess Anne, Sir Timothy Laurence and Prince Harry. 

Her Majesty seated at the top of the row beside Andrew, Timothy, Anne and Harry.

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Philip also personally selected medals, decorations and insignia to be displayed at the funeral conferred on him by UK and Commonwealth nations and his Royal Air Force Wings and Field Marshal's baton.

The Brilliant Star of Zanzibar, the Brunei Esteemed Family Order, and the Singapore Order of Darjah Utama Temasek.

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The Garter Collar and Greater George, and the Garter Breast Star and Lesser George sewn onto a velvet cushion.

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The British Empire Collar and Grand Masters Badge, and the British Empire Breast Star and Badge.

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In a nod to his heritage, he selected insignia from Denmark and Greece to lie on the altar. Below, the Order of the Elephant (Denmark) and the Order of the Redeemer (Greece).

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More from Wales Online:

'Stephen Segrave, Secretary of the Central Chancery of the Orders of Knighthood, said: “There will be nine cushions with insignia placed on pre-positioned around the altar at St George’s Chapel in Windsor. They represent British and Commonwealth orders and decorations, and the final cushion with orders from Greece and Denmark, for obvious reasons.

“The Duke of Edinburgh had, I think, 61 decorations and awards from 53 different other countries, and there simply just wasn’t the space to have them all on display at the funeral.”

And he certainly had a hand in planning his arrangements, so he would have made the decision himself.” Mr Segrave said the chosen insignia would have “absolutely” meant a great deal to Philip.'
In tribute to the Prince, the Dean of Windsor said, "With grateful hearts we remember the many ways in which his long life has been a blessing to us. We have been inspired to his long loyalty, by his service to the nation and the Commonwealth, by his courage, fortitude and faith."

The Archbishop of Canterbury read the Second Lesson, which is taken from the Gospel of John: "I am the resurrection and the life."

More from the Telegraph:
'This is the bare minimum necessary to sing four-part settings of the key elements of the Burial Service. They include the Funeral Sentences by William Croft, first sung at Handel’s funeral in 1759 and used for every Royal funeral since. They are plain and solemn and will sound just as beautiful sung by four voices as by a choir, if not more so. Even more sturdily plain is the setting of the Lord’s Prayer by Robert Stone, himself a singer at the Chapel Royal, which dates from around 1550, and the Responses by William Smith – about 80 years later in date but hardly different in style.

That note of solemn, sturdy simplicity is echoed in the Anthem, the Russian orthodox chant known as the Kontakion of the Departed, and the Duke of Edinburgh’s favourite hymn, Eternal Father Strong to Save, which everyone predicted would be part of the service because of its naval associations. Only the setting of Psalm 104 by William Lovelady and Benjamin Britten’s Jubilate, both composed at the Duke of Edinburgh’s request, will strike a more cheerful note.'
A small choir of four sang pieces chosen by the Duke. In line with Covid guidance, they were located in the Nave away from the congregation, and all guests wore face masks throughout the service.
Naval battle cry 'Actions Stations' was chosen by the Duke. The traditional alert is associated with navy funerals and marked Philip's service in the navy during World War II. Philip carried his navy service with him throughout his life. A Palace official said, "Action Stations is a naval tradition and it is an announcement that would be made on a naval warship to signify that all hands, all those serving, on that warship should go into battle stations."

'The Last Post' was also played - symbolising a soldier gone to his final rest.

Following his training at Dartmouth, he became one of the youngest first lieutenants. The Duke was present in Tokyo Bay when the Japanese signed the surrender on 2 September 1945.

At the end of the service, the Duke's coffin was lowered into the Royal Vault followed by a blessing from the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Afterwards Her Majesty led the Royal family back to Windsor Castle.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry departing.

William, Kate and Harry made the walk back together.

Click here to watch BBC's coverage of the funeral.

A Buckingham Palace spokesperson said, "While this is naturally a time of sadness and mourning for the Royal Family and the many others who knew or admired the Duke of Edinburgh, it is hoped that the coming days will also be seen as an opportunity to celebrate a remarkable life. Remarkable both in terms of his vast contribution and lasting legacy. If you consider that in his lifetime he was a decorated veteran of World War Two, of his love and passion for the skills of science, engineering, design and art, his dedication to the military, his support for the Commonwealth, his promotion of Outward Bound Trust, the World Wildlife Fund and The Duke of Edinburgh Award you can see why his influence is so much greater than many may imagine the role of a consort to be."

The Queen has been "touched" by tributes from all over the world. I was particularly taken by the miniature Land Rover and thoughtful card Charles and Camilla had the opportunity to view at Marlborough House Gardens.

This beautiful drawing from five-year-old Sophia was seen by the Earl and Countess of Wessex and their daughter Lady Louise in Windsor.

Floral tributes from members of the public outside St George's chapel.

Messages from members of the family have been especially moving. Yesterday, Mike Tindall shared a beautiful photo of Mia with her great-grandfather taken by the Duchess of Cambridge. "It’s been a very sad week but it has given us time to reflect on great memories and stories both personal and shared. A devoted family man who we will forever miss but always love."

Above all, over this past week, I've been reminded of the Queen and Duke's enduring relationship. In 1946, Prince Philip wrote to the then Princess Elizabeth, according to author Philip Eade, "To have been spared in the war and seen victory, to have been given the chance to rest and to re-adjust myself, to have fallen in love completely and unreservedly, makes all one's personal and even the world's troubles seem small and petty."

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During her Golden Anniversary speech, the Queen said, "He has, quite simply, been my strength and stay all these years, and I, and his whole family, and this and many other countries, owe him a debt greater than he would ever claim, or we shall ever know."

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In a message written following 9/11, the Queen echoed Colin Murray Parkes "Grief is the price we pay for love".

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Amidst the loss of her beloved husband, the Queen will be comforted by a lifetime of treasured memories. 'People Will Say We're in Love' from Oklahoma! was a treasured favourite of the couple since the early days of their romance.

His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh 1921-2021.

Watch The Duke of Edinburgh's Funeral

 The Duke of Edinburgh's funeral will be live streamed on the Royal Family's YouTube channel from 2.30 pm.

The BBC's livestream is already online with commentary.