Richmond Times-Dispatch Weekend
Philip’s funeral to have martial air
The ceremony will ref lect his lifelong ties to the military
WINDSOR, England — British soldiers, sailors and air force personnel were practicing, polishing and making final preparations Friday for Prince Philip’s funeral, a martial but personal service that will mark the death of a royal patriarch who was also one of the dwindling number of World War II veterans.
More than 700 military personnel are set to take part in Saturday’s funeral ceremony at Windsor Castle, including army bands, Royal Marine buglers and an honor guard drawn from across the armed forces.
But coronavirus restrictions mean that instead of the 800 mourners included in the long-standing funeral plans, there will be only 30 inside St. George’s Chapel for the service, including the widowed Queen Elizabeth II and her four children.
Philip was closely involved in planning his funeral, an event which will reflect his Royal Navy service and lifelong military ties.
The children of Philip and the queen — Prince Charles, Princess Anne, Prince Andrew and Prince Edward — will walk behind the hearse. So will grandsons Prince William and Prince Harry, although not side by side. The brothers, whose relationship has been strained amid Harry’s decision to quit royal duties and move to California, will flank their cousin Peter Phillips, the son of Princess Anne.
The moment is likely to stir memories of the image of William and Harry at 15 and 12, walking behind their mother Princess Diana’s coffin
in 1997, accompanied by their grandfather Philip.
Armed forces bands will play hymns and classical music before the funeral service, which will also be preceded by a nationwide minute of silence.
Inside the Gothic chapel, the setting for centuries of royal weddings and funerals, the service will include Royal Marine buglers sounding “Action Stations,” an alarm that alerts sailors to prepare for battle. That was a personal request from Philip, who spent almost 14 years in the Royal Navy and saw action in the Mediterranean, Indian Ocean and Pacific during World War II.
Gen. Nick Carter, the head of Britain’s armed forces, said the ceremony would “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,” Carter told the BBC. “The military always have a great respect for people who have their values and standards, and who indeed have shown great courage.”
Along with Philip’s children and grandchildren, the 30 funeral guests include other senior royals and several of his German relatives.
Philip was born a prince
of Greece and Denmark and, like the queen, is related to a thicket of European royal families.
Mourners have been instructed to wear masks and observe social distancing inside the chapel, and not to join in when a four-person choir sings hymns. The queen, who has spent much of the past year isolating with her husband at Windsor Castle, will sit alone.
People continued to lay flowers outside the castle, 20 mile west of London, as they have done all week, despite official entreaties to stay away because of the coronavirus.
Many said they were motivated by sympathy for the queen, who has lost her husband of 73 years.
“Mainly we are here for the queen,” said Barbara Lee, who came with her children and grandchildren. “You know, we feel so sorry for her, the same as we would for our own grandmothers, mothers. It’s a long time to have been with somebody, a whole life, and she must be absolutely devastated. And so must they all, because at the end of the day they are a normal family.”
Prince Edward, the youngest son of Philip and the queen, and his wife, Sophie, stopped Friday to look at the flowers and cards. Many were written by children, others by politicians including Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
OOO Prince Philip, who liked
Land Rovers and drove them for much of his life, will make his last journey in one — a no-nonsense vehicle customized at his direction, down to its military green color.
The modified Land Rover TD5 130 will carry Prince Philip’s coffin in a procession at Windsor Castle on Saturday as the queen and other members of the royal family follow before the funeral and interment in St. George’s Chapel.
Buckingham Palace said the prince’s hearse was built at the Land Rover factory in Solihull in 2003, when Philip turned 82, and modified over the years with an open-top rear section to hold his coffin, with final changes being made up until 2019, the year he turned 98. Philip died April 9 at the age of 99.
Among other things, Philip asked that it be repainted in dark bronze green, a color used in military Land Rovers.
The plain vehicle and its military look reflect the man himself, a bluntspoken former naval officer. Before he married the future Queen Elizabeth in 1947, Philip, then a prince of the Greek royal family, served as an officer in Britain’s Royal Navy during World War II and took part in the battles of Cape Matapan and Crete in 1941.
Land Rover has maintained the vehicle since it was built and kept it ready for the funeral in collaboration with the royal household.
Thierry Bollore, Land Rover’s chief executive, said that the company was “deeply privileged” to have worked with the prince, who visited company sites over the years.