Royal family prepare to say farewell to Philip

Laura Elston and Tony Jones, PA Court Staff
·4-min read

Members of the royal family have gathered at Windsor for the Duke of Edinburgh’s final farewell.

The Duchess of Cornwall, the Duchess of Cambridge and the Countess of Wessex, in mourning black and wearing face masks, were among those leaving the historic castle by car to make the short journey to the chapel.

Covid regulations reduced the scope of the service with public elements cancelled, mourners reduced from around 800 to just 30, and all guests wearing face coverings and sitting apart.

The Queen, mourning the husband she was married to for 73 years, will lead the royal family in St George’s Chapel on Saturday.

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Members of the household cavalry march outside St George’s Chapel ahead of the funeral (Hannah McKay/PA)

The 50-minute service follows precise instructions left by Philip, who died peacefully eight days ago at the age of 99 – with his coffin transported on the Land Rover hearse he designed specifically for the occasion.

Naval hymns and the Action Stations battle warship battle cry by buglers will sound out around the 15th century church.

Walking behind the coffin, in mourning suits and dress but not uniform, will be Philip’s eldest children the Prince of Wales and Princess Royal, followed by their siblings the Earl of Wessex and Duke of York.

In the third row will be the Duke of Sussex and Duke of Cambridge but between the two royal brothers – their troubled relationship well documented – will walk their cousin Peter Phillips.

Vice Admiral Tim Lawrence, the Princess Royal’s husband, and the Queen’s nephew Earl of Snowdon are also in the procession.

A national minute’s silence will be held at 3pm in honour of the nation’s longest serving consort, who devoted decades of his life to royal service.

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The Foot Guards Band (Alastair Grant/PA)

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

The Duke of Sussex summed up his “grandpa” as “master of the barbecue, legend of banter, and cheeky right till the end” while the Duke of Cambridge pledged to uphold his wishes and continue to support the Queen and “get on with the job”.

Unseen photographs were released showing Philip sitting on a sofa with the Queen at Balmoral surrounded by their great-grandchildren, having a bite to eat with his family with a beer at hand or in the Scottish Highlands relaxing with his wife.

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Image released by Buckingham Palace of a personal photograph of the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh at the top of the Coyles of Muick, taken by The Countess of Wessex in 2003 (The Countess of Wessex/PA)

Philip’s death has come at a time of upheaval for the royal family with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex making accusations of racism and a lack of support against their family in their bombshell Oprah Winfrey interview.

Harry also spoke about a rift with his brother William and father Charles, and this week the funeral plans revealed he would not walk shoulder to shoulder with his sibling in the funeral procession or inside the chapel.

In an unexpected move it was announced military uniforms would not be worn but morning coat with medals or day dresses.

It meant Harry – who lost his honorary military titles after stepping down as senior royals – would not look out of place and it put an end to reports the Duke of York was considering wearing an admiral’s uniform.

Andrew was due to be promoted to admiral in 2020 to mark his 60th birthday, but after the fallout from his friendship with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein he did not receive the honour.