Key moments at the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral

Laura Elston, PA Court Reporter
·6-min read

Here are some of the key moments from the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral.

– The movement of the coffin

The slow crunch of gravel could be heard underfoot as eight Grenadier Guards stepped cautiously forward in unison, mastering the unenviable task of moving the duke’s coffin on to his Land Rover hearse.

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The Duke of Edinburgh’s coffin, covered with his personal standard, is carried ahead of the funeral (Chris Jackson/PA)

The coffin was draped in Philip’s 12ft personal standard – with blue lions and red hearts on a yellow background representing Denmark and the arms of the City of Edinburgh among the four quarters.

It was adorned by a wreath of white, spring flowers selected by the Queen, with a handwritten private message, and the duke’s Admiral of the Fleet naval cap and sword.

– Land Rover hearse

Gleaming in the sunshine, the polished green Land Rover TD5 130 ferried the duke’s coffin slowly to the west steps of St George’s Chapel.

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The purpose-built Land Rover hearse (Chris Jackson/PA)

It was modified to the duke’s own plans in a project that spanned 16 years and which he finally finished in the year he turned 98.

It served as a testament to his love of design, engineering and all things practical.

– The procession

Beethoven’s dramatic funeral marches, peppered with booming gun salutes and the tolling of the Curfew Tower Bell, formed the soundtrack to the coffin procession, as military chiefs, royals and five members of the duke’s loyal household marched forward to the solemn beat of the drums.

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The procession (Leon Neal/PA)

In step behind were Philip’s children – the Prince of Wales, the Princess Royal, the Duke of York and Earl of Wessex – followed by the duke’s grandsons the Duke of Sussex, the Duke of Cambridge and Peter Phillips, the Princess Royal’s husband Vice Admiral Tim Laurence, and the Queen’s nephew the Earl of Snowdon.

Philip always walked two steps behind his wife on official engagements, but on Saturday the monarch followed her husband for perhaps the first and only time as she joined the rear of the procession by car for part of the way.

– The empty carriage seat

Philip’s cap, gloves and whip were poignantly placed on the empty seat of his favourite driving carriage, which was pulled into place by his two black Fell ponies.

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The Duke of Edinburgh’s driving carriage in the Quadrangle (Ian Vogler/Daily Mirror/PA)

Also there was the red sugar lump pot he would take with him to feed the ponies sweet treats after each driving session.

– The military

Exactly 730 members of the armed forces, from air, land and sea, took part, standing in proud precision in tribute under clear skies and April sunshine, heads bowed in respect.

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The view of the Quadrangle (Adrian Dennis/PA)

– The Queen alone

In moving scenes, the Queen was pictured entirely alone in the chapel, ready to say her final farewell to her beloved husband.

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The Queen takes her seat for the funeral of the Duke of Edinburgh (Jonathan Brady/PA)

Coronavirus restrictions meant the guests, limited to just 30, were forced to sit socially distanced, and those due to sit two seats apart or more from the monarch on her side of the chapel were walking in the procession.

– The face masks

All members of the congregation wore face masks.

The Queen’s was black edged in white, and as she entered the Bentley she adjusted the covering for comfort.

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The Duchess of Cornwall and the Duchess of Cambridge in their face coverings (Victoria Jones/PA)

– The minute’s silence

People across the UK observed a national minute’s silence for the duke in unison with mourners at his funeral.

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Members of the military observe a minute’s silence (Chris Jackson/PA)

As members of the royal family fell silent at 3pm, people across the country – including Prime Minister Boris Johnson – did the same.

– The emotion

The Countess of Wessex appeared tearful, using her handkerchief during the service, while the Duchess of Cambridge was also seen blowing her nose as she made her way from the chapel.

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The Earl of Wessex, Viscount Severn, the Countess of Wessex and Lady Louise Windsor during the funeral (Yui Mok/PA)

Zara Tindall held her husband Mike Tindall’s hand as they watched the procession from the Galilee porch.

Charles’ face was etched with grief as he followed his father’s coffin.

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The Prince of Wales follows the Land Rover Defender (Leon Neal/PA)

– The deserted nave

Strikingly, the vast nave of the chapel was empty except for the four choristers and their musical director, and the coffin procession.

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Pallbearers carrying the coffin of the Duke of Edinburgh, followed by members of the royal family (Danny Lawson/PA)

In non-coronavirus times, the chapel would have been filled with 800 guests, but the floor was free from chairs, with members of the procession casting shadows on the pale stone as they walked through.

– The family issues

Beneath the surface, this was a complex family gathering, precariously balancing grief with rifts, slights and scandals.

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The Duke of Sussex, centre, with the Duke of York and the Earl of Wessex (Chris Jackson/PA)

Two dukes – of Sussex and of York – both re-entered the public stage for their first appearances at a royal event since stepping down from royal duties amid bombshell broadcasts and controversial claims.

– The lack of uniforms

Despite it being a ceremonial royal funeral for a distinguished military figure, not a single member of the royal family was in uniform.

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The processing royal family in morning suits or dress (Adrian Dennis/PA)

The Windsors, with Charles and William both future heads of the armed forces, were in plain morning coats or day dress, uniforms abandoned to spare the difficulties for Harry, who was stripped of his honorary titles, and Andrew, whose future military role still remains ambiguous.

But the royal family wore the many medals awarded to them over the years for their military duty or for their service to the Queen.

– The brothers

William and Harry, whose rift has been well documented, were initially separated by their older peace-maker cousin Peter Phillips as they walked behind their grandfather’s coffin, with the grieving royals freshly wounded by the Sussexes’ primetime tell-all and the ramifications of Megxit.

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The Duke of Cambridge, the Duke of Sussex and Peter Phillips (Justin Tallis/PA)

But there were signs of reconciliation.

At one point, Peter Phillips fell back slightly, allowing the two to appear closer to each other.

The brothers, who sat directly opposite one another on different sides of the Quire, were seen chatting as they made their way out of the chapel after the service, with Harry appearing to smile briefly in the direction of sister-in-law Kate.

– The carriage-driving companion

It was a tribute to Countess Mountbatten of Burma’s long-standing friendship with Philip that she was invited by the Queen to attend.

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Penelope Knatchbull, Countess Mountbatten of Burma, arriving for the funeral (Chris Jackson/PA)

Penny was the duke’s carriage-driving partner and had a close bond with both Philip and the monarch.