Prince Philip was laid to rest Saturday afternoon in an extraordinary funeral at Windsor Castle which, because of tough British coronavirus regulations, was attended by just 30 people—and for the duration of which the widowed queen sat alone and masked. She cut an intensely solitary figure, and the Mail reported she and Prince Charles were seen weeping.
In accordance with royal tradition, there was no eulogy or personal statement made by a family member.
Those watching for a sign of easing royal relations will have been moved and heartened by the sight of Prince William and Prince Harry walking next to each other after the service talking, alongside Kate Middleton.
Optimists are likely to read the image of the brothers chatting as a promising sign of potential reconciliation. They have not seen each other in over a year, and their reported rift was only exacerbated by Harry and Meghan’s Oprah interview in which Harry spoke of his brother and father Prince Charles being “trapped” in the royal family, as well as an ongoing estrangement with his father.
Both Harry and Meghan alleged an unnamed member of the royal family had queried the color of the unborn Archie’s skin, and that Meghan had received no support when she had felt suicidal. Prince Philip thought that interview was “madness,” his official biographer has said.
There were suggestions that the queen had ordered the brothers to be separated by their cousin Peter Philips as they walked behind their grandfather’s coffin before the funeral in a reflection of their difficulties.
However, after the funeral, TV images showed the brothers and Kate together, and then just speaking the two of them as they walked in a group of other senior royal family members away from St George’s Chapel.
As the royal family exited the chapel, stopping to exchange a few words with the Dean of Windsor, the brothers were next to each other. William left first, but tarried a little as his brother exchanged words with the priest, waiting for him to catch up.
The brothers then walked in the direction of the royal apartments, accompanied by Kate who was by Harry’s side. As they walked up the hill towards the castle, the brothers appeared to separate from Kate and continue talking as they walked in the bright spring sunshine.
During the service, much of the musical content was provided by a small choir of four. The pieces, all of which were chosen by Philip, were “Melita,” by J B Dykes (1823-76) William Whiting (1825-78) arranged by James Vivian (b. 1974), the Jubilate by Benjamin Britten (1913-76), in C.
The choir then sang Psalm 104, which the Duke of Edinburgh requested should be set to music by William Lovelady. The choir closed with the Anthem, Russian Kontakion of the Departed, translated by William John Birkbeck (1859-1916) Kiev Melody, arranged by Sir Walter Parratt, KCVO (1841-1924). The readings were the first lesson Ecclesiasticus 43. 11-26, which was read by the Dean of Windsor. The second lesson was John 11. 21-27 read by the Archbishop of Canterbury.
After the duke was lowered into the royal vault, a traditional lament was played on the bagpipes by a Pipe Major of the Royal Regiment of Scotland, who walked from the North Quire Aisle to the Dean’s Cloister.
The Last Post was then sounded by Buglers of the Royal Marines from the west end of the Nave, followed by the Reveille by the State Trumpeters of the Household Cavalry. The Buglers of the Royal Marines finally sounded the call for “Action Stations”—at the specific request of the Duke.
The Garter Principal King of Arms gave a full list of the styles and titles of Philip, saying: “Thus it hath pleased Almighty God to take out of this transitory life unto his divine mercy the late most Illustrious and most Exalted Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, Earl of Merioneth and Baron Greenwich, Knight of the Most Noble Order of the Garter, Knight of the Most Ancient and Most Noble Order of the Thistle, Member of the Order of Merit, Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order upon whom had been conferred the Royal Victorian Chain, Grand Master and Knight Grand Cross of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, Lord High Admiral of the United Kingdom, One of Her Majesty’s Most Honourable Privy Council, Admiral of the Fleet, Field Marshal in the Army and Marshal of the Royal Air Force, Husband of Her Most Excellent Majesty Elizabeth the Second by the Grace of God of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and of Her other Realms and Territories, Queen, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith, Sovereign of the Most Noble Order of the Garter, whom may God preserve and bless with long life, health and honor and all worldly happiness.”
The funeral was somber and stately. As the service ended, the queen left the chapel first, followed by Prince Charles the the rest of the family.
Proceedings began at exactly 1440 (0940 EDT) when the duke’s coffin, draped in his personal standard and with a sword given to him by Elizabeth’s father, George VI, laid on top, was carried out of the castle by eight Grenadier Guards and loaded onto an adapted Land Rover. Its conversion into a hearse at the royal garages was overseen by none other than the mischievous, disruptive duke himself.
The coffin was adorned with white flowers chosen personally by the Queen, the Telegraph reported, with a handwritten card reading “in loving memory,” signed Elizabeth.
Under a beautiful blue sky, the vehicle set off at walking pace to St George’s Chapel. The coffin was followed by a cortege comprised of senior members of the royal family, including Charles, William and Harry, although the brothers at that moment were separated by their cousin Peter Philips. The queen herself appeared at the final moment, driven in a Bentley accompanied by one of her ladies-in-waiting.
The cortege marched in time to the stirring sounds of the funeral march played by the Band of the Grenadier Guards, with a gun fired every minute by the King’s Guard royal artillery.
When it reached the chapel the Land Rover drew to a halt, its thrumming diesel engine the only noise in the spring sunshine. The duke’s coffin was elegantly removed and carried into the chapel by the bearer party. Although the entire service was televised there were only occasional shots of the royal family themselves, and no close-ups. When the cameras focused on them, the family were pictured with their heads bowed.