Disabled nine-year-old wears bowler hat and tie for duke’s funeral

Edd Dracott, PA
·3 min read

A nine-year-old who has special needs and is paralysed from the chest down donned a bowler hat, shirt and tie at home to mark the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral.

Noah Wall, from Carlisle, Cumbria, has severe spina bifida and special needs as a result of a rare condition which meant he was born with just a small part of his brain.

Noah is a patron of Variety, the Children’s Charity, which Philip co-founded, and said he felt “proud to be British” watching the funeral.

“Today is a sad day as it’s Prince Philip’s funeral, I feel very sad also for my Queen, but I also feel proud to be British too,” Noah told the PA news agency.

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Noah’s mother, Shelly Wall, said Noah was “so shocked” by Philip’s death, but recognised the situation from his grandfather’s funeral when he was five – when he also wore his bowler hat outfit.

“He made the connection straight away, saying ‘the Queen will be so upset like nana was’,” Mrs Wall said.

“Once we knew about Prince Philip, we said ‘shall we watch the funeral on TV?’

“He said ‘yes, I need a white shirt, black tie and black pants and I want to wear the hat I wore for granddad’s funeral’.”

Noah sang part of the national anthem while watching the service (hugsfornoah.co.uk/PA)
Noah sang part of the national anthem while watching the service (hugsfornoah.co.uk/PA)

Mrs Wall said it was a coincidence Noah’s hat matched one which Philip wore at the Captain General’s Parade, at Buckingham Palace in London – his final individual public engagement.

Noah sang part of the national anthem while watching the service and his family ate sandwiches and cake after the ceremony at his request.

“Noah really wanted to actually go to the funeral, bless him, but we explained that he wasn’t allowed,” said Mrs Wall.

“We have spent the morning sat with Noah explaining and answering any questions Noah had – what’s the gold hat? Where will Prince Philip be buried? What are the black things on the soldiers’ arms?”

Noah met another member of the royal family, the Countess of Wessex, in October 2017 at the London Palladium through his work with The Music Man Project – a musical education service for children and adults with learning disabilities.

Noah with the Countess of Wessex
Noah with the Countess of Wessex in 2017 (hugsfornoah.co.uk/PA)

Mrs Wall said the family are “really big fans” of the royal family and some of Noah’s grandparents and great-grandparents were in the military.

“One day it’s Noah’s wish to meet the Queen, the corgis and her horses,” added Mrs Wall.

Noah was born with just 2% functioning brain tissue as a result of a porencephalic cyst in his head.

It was believed he would not survive for long, or be able to talk or eat unaided, but Noah has since made a remarkable recovery, with his brain restoring to 80% functioning tissue.