Bowing out.. in Land Rover
PRINCE Philip will be carried to his grave on a custom-built Land Rover he designed himself.
The Duke of Edinburgh – a passionate motor enthusiast – helped a team of engineers create the specially modified vehicle that will bear his coffin through the grounds of Windsor Castle during his funeral next Saturday.
His extraordinary wish emerged as the Queen yesterday signed off on arrangements for her beloved’s sendoff, which will be televised live across the globe to more than 100 countries.
And the nation will fall silent at 3pm to honour the remarkable life of the longest-living consort in our history.
The Queen was forced to scale down long-established plans because of Covid restrictions.
But Buckingham Palace insisted they remained “very much in line” with the Duke’s wishes.
The Land Rover ‘hearse’ started off as a joke between the Duke and the Queen in the 1980s which he turned into a reality.
Two of them have been specially customised as part of a “belt and braces” approach in case one failed on the day.
The irony has “not been lost” on family members after the Duke’s miraculous escape from a dramatic Land Rover crash which could have ended his life in January 2019.
After smashing into a car and flipping his motor over the shocked Duke, who suffered only minor injuries, voluntarily gave up his licence.
A former palace staffer with knowledge of the funeral plans told how Philip found it “hilarious” so many people were alarmed by them.
He said the Duke, 99, also found it “somewhat amusing” he had outlived many who had a hand in preparing his final farewell.
The insider said: “The Land Rover started off as a joke between him and the Queen.
“But he was always fascinated with design so it was
FINAL PICTURE Leaving the hospital last month
his own way of taking control of the situation.” The ‘hearse’ will be flanked by pallbearers drawn from the Duke’s special relationships with the military.
The procession from Windsor Castle state entrance to the west steps of St George’s Chapel will take eight minutes.
The Prince of Wales and sons William and Harry, will take part in the procession on foot, walking immediately behind the Duke’s coffin, together with other family members and staff from Philip’s household.
Mourners will be wearing face masks with only the Covid restrictions maximum of 30 present.
A Buckingham Palace spokesman confirmed Harry’s wife Meghan, heavily pregnant with their second child, will not attend after being advised by her doctors against travelling such a distance from LA.
The funeral at 3pm will be televised but take place entirely in the grounds of the castle with the Duke being
STATE ENTRANCE Where the funeral procession begins
THE ROUND TOWER Curfew Bell will toll as a mark of respect
ALBERT MEMORIAL CHAPEL buried at Frogmore Gardens. The Queen has decided the Royal Family will enter two weeks of royal mourning, and engagements will continue appropriate to the circumstances, a senior royal official said.
Public elements of Operation Forth Bridge – the code name for the Duke’s funeral plans – were abandoned for fear of drawing crowds.
Long-held arrangements for military processions through London and Windsor have been scrapped too.
The route of the short procession will be lined by representatives drawn from the Royal Navy, the Royal Marines, the Highlanders, 4th
Battalion Royal Regiment of Scotland and the Royal Air Force.
Minute guns will be fired by the King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery from the east lawn of Windsor Castle for the duration of the procession, and the Curfew Tower Bell will toll.
The Queen is now facing the task of choosing which members of her wider family can attend the funeral, due to the Covid-19 restrictions on numbers and social distancing.
A royal source said: “The Duke did it his way until the last and his family can take great comfort in that. He
wanted the minimum of fuss, preferring to exit the stage when his time was up without great fanfare and, funnily enough, he got his way.
“It will be a solemn occasion for all involved, not just those in attendance but also the many people whose lives he touched in one way or another.”
On the day of the funeral, the Duke’s coffin, accompanied by the Dean of Windsor and the Lord Chamberlain, will be moved to the state entrance of Windsor Castle by a Bearer Party of The Queen’s Company, 1st Battalion
Grenadier Guards. On the grass in the Castle’s Quadrangle – where Prince Philip took part in his last official engagement in July to hand over his role as Colonel-in-Chief of The Rifles to the Duchess of Cornwall – there will be representative detachments from more of his military special relationships.
The Quadrangle will also be lined by the Household Cavalry and The Foot Guards. The Band of the Grenadier Guards, of which Philip was Colonel for 42 years, will lead the procession to
St George’s Chapel. They will be followed by the Major General’s Party, and then the Service Chiefs.
The Duke of Edinburgh’s Naval Cap and Sword will be placed on the coffin ahead of the service and His Royal Highness’s Insignia will be laid on the altar of the chapel.
At the conclusion of the service, His Royal Highness will be buried in the Royal Vault in St George’s Chapel.
A royal source said: “Despite all the changes due to the pandemic it will be a special service befitting of the remarkable man whose loss will be immeasurable.”