The British public has said their goodbyes and paid their respects to HRH Prince Philip, The Duke of Edinburgh in a moving and simple service, reflecting the life of an unpretentious though extraordinary man.
Planned meticulously by The Duke himself over the years, the day began with a moving tribute by the United Kingdom’s various military branches, in honor of a man who was passionate about his military service. According to the head of the armed forces, the military “loved and respected” the man who stood by the Queen throughout her 69 year reign.
General Sir Nick Carter, 62, told the BBC’s Radio 4 Today: “It [the funeral] will reflect military precision and above all I think it will be a celebration of a life well lived and it will also show much the armed forces loved and respected him.”
And in many ways, the procession and service went off with military precision.
It started with various family members, in order of prescience, getting into various state and personal vehicles that would take them to the chapel, including most notably Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall; Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge; Sophie, The Countess of Wessex and her children Lady Louise Mountbatten-Windsor and James, Viscount Severn; newlyweds Princess Beatrice and her husband Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi; new mother Princess Eugenie and Jack Brooksbank; Zara Philips, who just gave birth to her third child, and her husband Mike Tindall. Other extended family members, including the descendants of The Duke’s older sisters, also attended.
Following the casket, set on the back of a vehicle designed by The Duke himself, included his four children Charles, The Prince of Wales; Anne, The Princess Royal; Andrew, The Duke of York; Edward, Earl of Wessex; his grandsons William, The Duke of Cambridge; Peter Philips, son of Princess Anne; Harry, The Duke of Sussex, who flew in from the United States for the funeral; David Armstrong-Jones, Earl of Snowdon, son of Princess Margaret, The Queen’s younger sister; and finally, Sir. Timothy Lawrence, the second husband of Princess Anne.
It was a solemn walk.
One particularly ponente member of the procession was a carriage pulled by two Fell ponies. After retiring from polo, The Duke became a passionate carriage driver and helped popularize the sport in the U.K. In honor of that passion, next to the carriage driver was The Duke’s gloves, blanket, hat and a piece of Tupperware with sugar cubes for the horses.
The Queen, driven by a state Bentley and accompanied by a Lady-in-Waiting, was driven behind the procession and casket.
Perhaps the most shocking aspect of the funeral wasn’t anything that happened, but the emptiness of the chapel. Due to COVID restrictions, only 30 family members could attend. All were seated in the choir closer to the church. The outside nave, where usually hundreds are seated, was empty. The barrenness of the church highlighted both its beauty and the mournful atmosphere.
The service was simple, with beautiful songs, meaningful scriptures read and a short sermon, all done in guidelines with The Duke’s wishes. He did not want a eulogy given by a family member, nor did he want family members to read scripture.
On the alter were The Duke’s various orders, both from the U.K. and other countries. Most notably the Order of the Garter, which is based out of St. George’s chapel, where the service was held.
Perhaps the most impactful scene of the whole service, was the image of The Queen, sitting alone in the chapel. As family members of different households aren’t supposed to sit close to each other, she was forced to sit alone for the first time in 73 years. When the camera periodically panned to her, her head was so far down that the only thing caught was the top of her hat. It was impossible to see her face.
Many family members seemed gutted and deeply sorrowful, at the loss of the longest serving consort in British history, and the family’s beloved patriarch.