Prince Philip’s funeral to mark his ‘unwavering loyalty’on April 17, 2021 at 6:31 am

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The Duke of Edinburgh’s link to the Navy and love of the sea will be a focus of the Windsor service.

Prince Philip in June 2015

image copyrightGetty Images

The Duke of Edinburgh’s “unwavering loyalty” to the Queen, service to the nation and “courage”, will be celebrated at his funeral later.

Prince Philip’s association with the Royal Navy and love of the sea will be a focus of the Windsor Castle ceremony.

But no sermon will be delivered, in line with his wishes.

More than 730 members of the armed forces are taking part in the event, but there is a limit of 30 mourners at St George’s Chapel, under Covid rules.

The ceremonial royal funeral will be broadcast on BBC One, with coverage beginning at 12:30 BST. The service itself will start after a national minute’s silence at 15:00.

Prince Philip died at Windsor Castle on Friday 9 April, aged 99.

His body is now resting in the private chapel at Windsor Castle before being moved to the State Entrance.

His coffin will be placed on a modified Land Rover that the duke himself helped to design, and carried in a procession the short distance to St George’s Chapel.

The funeral service will be conducted by the Dean of Windsor, with the Archbishop of Canterbury pronouncing the blessing.

The Order of Service, released by Buckingham Palace, says the Dean of Windsor will pay tribute to Prince Philip’s “kindness, humour and humanity” and 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,” he will say during his bidding.

Buckingham Palace said the funeral plans had been modified to take into account public health guidelines.

The funeral will take place entirely within the grounds of the castle and the public have been asked not to gather there or at other royal residences.

The congregation will put on masks and socially distance in line with Covid lockdown rules, with the Queen seated alone.

But the ceremonial aspects of the day and the service remain in line with Prince Philip’s wishes and will reflect his military affiliations and personal elements of his life.

The music will include the 1860 hymn Eternal Father, Strong to Save, by William Whiting, which is associated with seafarers and the maritime armed services.

Ahead of the funeral, the Queen shared a favourite photograph of herself with the Duke of Edinburgh, showing the couple in Aberdeenshire.

Taken by the Countess of Wessex in 2003, the picture shows the couple relaxing on a picnic rug on the grass at the Coyles of Muick beauty spot, near the Queen’s private estate of Balmoral.

Personal photograph of Prince Philip and the Queen at the top of the Coyles of Muick in the Cairngorms, Scotland, in 2003 taken by the Countess of Wessex

image copyrightThe Countess of Wessex

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The 30 guests at the funeral will wear morning coats with medals, or day dress, but not military uniform.

The Queen and duke’s four children – the Prince of Wales, the Princess Royal, the Duke of York and the Earl of Wessex and – as well as their eight grandchildren – will be in attendance, but none of their young great-grandchildren.

Spouses of the children and grandchildren will join the congregation, including two who have married into the family in recent years – Jack Brooksbank and Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi, husbands of Princesses Eugenie and Beatrice.

But the Duke of Sussex’s wife, the Duchess of Sussex, is heavily pregnant and was advised by her doctors not to fly in from the US.

The other mourners include the children of the Queen’s sister, Princess Margaret, and three of Prince Philip’s German relatives – Bernhard, the Hereditary Prince of Baden; Donatus, Prince and Landgrave of Hesse; and Prince Philipp of Hohenlohe-Langenburg.

Prince Philip
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Royal biographer Robert Hardman told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme coronavirus restrictions would mean the funeral was “reduced but I don’t think it is in any way diminished”.

Mr Hardman said the limit on the number in attendance could make the funeral “even more personal, even more dramatic”.

As final preparations were put in place at Windsor, the Earl and Countess of Wessex and their daughter Lady Louise Windsor gathered to view flowers left by the public and national leaders outside the chapel.

First light rises over Windsor Castle seen from across the River Thames

image copyrightGetty Images

On Saturday, representatives from military units with a special relationship to the duke will be positioned in the castle’s Quadrangle, with music provided by the Band of Royal Marines Commando Training Centre, the Band of the Scots Guards and the Combined Bands of the Royal Air Force.

First Sea Lord Adm Tony Radakin told the Today programme the Royal Air Force, the British Army and the Royal Navy would all reflect the affection, the dignity and respect held by, and for, Prince Philip.

He praised the duke’s “very distinguished Naval career” and added: “His degree of accomplishment in everything that he put his mind to was remarkable. You see that with his military connections, but I think you also see that in all his other facets of life.”

The funeral procession from the castle to the chapel will be headed by the Band of the Grenadier Guards, the Major General’s party, and military service chiefs.

Nine members of the Royal Family will walk behind the coffin, with Princess Anne and Prince Charles in the front row, followed by Prince Edward and Prince Andrew.

In the third row, the Duke of Cambridge and Prince Harry will be either side of their cousin Peter Phillips. Vice Admiral Sir Timothy Laurence and the Earl of Snowdon will be in the next row, trailed by members of the duke’s household staff.

The Queen will travel with a lady-in-waiting in the state Bentley at the end of the procession.

Map showing route of procession to St George's Chapel
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When the procession arrives at St George’s Chapel, a Royal Marines bearer party will carry the coffin into the service.

And buglers of the Royal Marines will sound Action Stations – a signal that all hands should be ready for battle – as the coffin is lowered into the royal vault at the end of the service.

A reduced choir of four singers will feature but the congregation will follow Covid restrictions and not sing.

A ceremonial gun fire at nine locations across the UK, and in Gibraltar, will mark the start and end of the national minute’s silence.

Heathrow Airport said no planes would land or take off for six minutes to coincide with the silence.

Meanwhile, all major sporting events have been rescheduled to avoid a clash with the funeral.

Analysis box by Jonny Dymond, royal correspondent

His medals and honours have been laid out in St George’s Chapel.

The house of his faith and his family now awaits him.

The procession that comes before the funeral will hold a mirror to the core of the man and his service; the men and women of the British military will line the route to the chapel; military bands will play.

Inside the chapel a service designed with obvious care by Prince Philip, one that reflects the deep debate he engaged in over faith, and the modern man he was.

Thirty members of the duke’s family will be allowed to say farewell.

Inside St George’s there will be bugles and anthems, a family in mourning, a wife and Queen unaccompanied for the first time.

And there will be a blast of the duke’s sense of humour; the military farewell The Last Post will be heard; but he has instructed that as his coffin is lowered into the royal vault below, the naval call to arms will ring out – Action Stations.


The Funeral of HRH The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh: BBC One, Saturday 17 April, 12:30-16:20 and 20:10-21:10

The funeral will also be broadcast from 14:00-16:10 on Radio 4 and Radio 5 Live, BBC World Service English, BBC Radio Scotland and BBC Radio Ulster – and on BBC Radio Wales and BBC local radio with some variation in start times.

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