Royal grief: The Queen in a rare show of emotion at the Duke of Edinburgh's funeral

The Queen cut a lonely, mournful figure as she wiped away tears in St George’s Chapel during the Duke of Edinburgh’s Funeral.

Saturday, 17th April 2021, 5:24 pm
Updated Saturday, 17th April 2021, 5:30 pm
The Queen bows her head during the funeral of the Duke of Edinburgh

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Her Majesty’s rare moment of public emotion was a reminder to the nation that she was saying final goodbye to her 'strength and stay' after their extraordinary 73-year life together as husband and wife.

The 94-year-old monarch bowed her head in reverence as she accompanied Philip's coffin on its final journey. Prince Charles, their eldest son and heir to the throne, cried as he walked behind the casket into church followed by other grieving royals.

Alone with her grief and fond memories

During the poignant service, the duke was described as enriching the lives of all those he knew with his “kindness, humour and humanity”.

The day was one of contrasts, a spectacle of pomp and pageantry provided by the many regiments and military units associated with Philip during his long association with the Armed Forces who took part.

There were simple touches that reflected the man, his polished dark green four-wheeled carriage was parked so it was passed by the funeral procession – his cap, whip and brown gloves lay neatly on a folded blanket.

And the wreath of white blooms, including roses and lilies chosen by the Queen, placed on top of his coffin included a handwritten card, edged in black, from his wife the Queen of 73 years.

Her Majesty watches as the coffin of the Duke of Edinburgh is placed St George's Chapel

In bright brilliant sunshine the funeral procession made its way through the precincts of the castle.

Philip’s children – Prince of Wales, Princess Royal, Duke of York and Earl of Wessex – walked behind his coffin carried by a Land Rover Defender hearse the Queen’s consort helped design.

They were joined by the duke’s grandsons the Duke of Sussex, Duke of Cambridge and Peter Phillips and Vice Admiral Tim Lawrence, the Princess Royal’s husband, and the Queen’s nephew the Earl of Snowdon.

The royals walked in step as a military band played and all stared straight ahead into the sun as they made their way to the duke’s final resting place.

The Prince of Wales, The Princess Royal, The Duke of York, The Earl of Wessex and The Duke of Sussex walk up the West Steps outside St George's Chapel

Philip had followed the Queen throughout her reign as he supported her as head of state, but now she followed him, travelling for part of the procession at the rear of the cortege in a state Bentley.

At the front of the quire, nearest the altar, the Queen sat apart from her children during the service, while William and Harry were seated opposite one another.

The Dean of Windsor, in the Bidding, paid tribute to Philip: “With grateful hearts, we remember the many ways in which his long life has been a blessing to us.

“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.

The Duke of Edinburgh's coffin, covered with his Personal Standard, is carried on the purpose built Land Rover Defender

“Our lives have been enriched through the challenges that he has set us, the encouragement that he has given us, his kindness, humour and humanity.”

His love of the sea and long association with the Royal Navy was marked by a reduced choir of four singing “Eternal Father, Strong to Save, a hymn traditionally associated with seafarers.

In a prayer the Archbishop of Canterbury gave thanks for the duke’s “resolute faith and loyalty”.

The Most Rev Justin Welby said: “O eternal God, before whose face the generations rise and pass away, thyself unchanged, abiding, we bless thy holy name for all who have completed their earthly course in thy faith and following, and are now at rest; we remember before thee this day Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, rendering thanks unto thee – for his resolute faith and loyalty, for his high sense of duty and integrity, for his life of service to the Nation and Commonwealth, and for the courage and inspiration of his leadership.”

The duke’s coffin was also slowly lowered into the royal vault as his titles were read out.

It was draped with his personal standard and alongside the wreath was his Admiral of the Fleet Naval cap and sword.

A mournful lament was played by a Pipe Major from the Royal Regiment of Scotland, and as he walked away from the chapel the music faded until he finally stopped.

In the nearby nave the Last Post was sounded by buglers from the Royal Marines and a few moments later the Reveille was played by the State Trumpeters of the Household Cavalry.

Philip served as Captain General of the Royal Marines for more than six decades and at the end of the service the buglers sounded ‘Action Stations’.

The short piece was a fitting finale and is played on a warship to signal all hands should go to battle stations and is sometimes featured at funerals of naval men.

The national anthem was sung by the reduced choir as the service came to an end and as the royal family followed the Queen out of the chapel Harry glanced down at the opening to the royal vault.

He recently spoke about holding video call chats with his grandparents and joked how Philip would not bother clicking a button to end conversations – but would slam the laptop shut.

Philip’s death left the monarchy grieving in private, but they made public appearances to recognise the support and condolences received throughout the week from the nation.

Charles spoke first for the family and praised his “dear Papa” for the “most remarkable, devoted service to the Queen, to my family and to the country”.

A few days later he understandably looked more emotional when he saw first-hand at Marlborough House the hundreds of cards, flowers, letters and pictures left by the public wanting to honour his father.

Personal, funny and revealing tributes were paid by the duke’s children and grandchildren who knew him best, and saw a side of the duke only glimpsed at by the outside world.

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