Prince Philip planned every detail of his funeral “down to the letter,” and while he said he wanted “no fuss,” Saturday’s ceremonial funeral at St. George’s Chapel was a fitting farewell to the so-called grandfather of the nation.
According to sources close to the royal family, the Queen, widowed after 73 years of marriage, “took great comfort” in the fact that the Iron Duke had been able to have “every conversation that needed to be had” in his final days at Windsor Castle. “It has been a long and sad week, but the Queen has taken great comfort that she and Philip had his final days at Windsor and that in the last year they had so much time together,” a source said. “Every conversation that needed to be had was had, Philip also got to spend some time with Prince Charles which was very important to them both.”
The source continued, “Philip was ready, he had had enough, it was time. This is the funeral he wanted.”
Wearing masks and maintaining social distance inside St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle, where both Prince Harry and Princess Eugenie were married in recent years, the royal family gathered for the first time in over a year for a somber service that honors the Duke of Edinburgh’s remarkable, near-century of life.
The extremely limited group of 30 mourners included all of Prince Philip and the Queen’s children and grandchildren, as well as relatives from Philip’s German side of the family and the daughter of Philip’s beloved uncle, Lord Mountbatten. Singing was not permitted due to Covid restrictions, but there was a small choir on hand to sing some of the Duke’s favorite hymns. The palace said that the service was “very much in line with the Duke’s wishes.”
The service began with a nationwide minute of silence that was honored across the country. In keeping with the traditions of a ceremonial funeral there is no eulogy. The Dean of Westminster is conducting the service and leading prayers along with the Archbishop of Canterbury. Opening the service David Conner, the Dean of Windsor, praised Philip’s “kindness, humor, and humanity,” and said, “We have been inspired by his unwavering loyalty to our Queen, by his service to the Nation and the Commonwealth, by his courage, fortitude and faith. Our lives have been enriched through the challenges that he has set us, the encouragement that he has given us, his kindness, humor, and humanity. We therefore pray that God will give us grace to follow his example.”
The 50-minute service consists of readings chosen by the Duke and readings including Psalm 104, which was set to music by guitarist and composer William Lovelady and played for the Duke’s 75th birthday in 1996. A former lieutenant in the Navy who served in the Second World War and was mentioned in dispatches for his brave service, the Duke’s love of the sea is also a strong theme of the service. A great lover of music like his son Prince Charles, Philip also picked a wide range of music from Johann Sebastian Bach to Ralph Vaughan Williams. Among the hymns will be “Eternal Father, Strong To Save” — a religious song sometimes known as the hymn for the Royal Navy. In what is expected to be one of the most moving parts of the service, a bugle will play “Action Stations,” the call to action for those on war ships and a personal request of Prince Philip.
At the end of the service the coffin was lowered into the royal vault while a Lament was played by a Pipe Major from the Royal Regiment of Scotland—the duke was Royal Colonel of the Highlanders, 4th Battalion, the Royal Regiment of Scotland. “The Last Post” was sounded by buglers of the Royal Marines and, after a period of silence, the Reveille was played by the State Trumpeters of the Household Cavalry. The National Anthem was sung by the choir.
At the end of the service, all remained standing in their places as Her Majesty The Queen, members of the Royal Family and members of the Duke of Edinburgh’s family left the Chapel via the Galilee Porch escorted by the Dean of Windsor and the Archbishop of Canterbury.