Final preparations under way for Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral

Tony Jones, PA Court Correspondent
·6 min read

Final preparations for the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral have begun ahead of the Queen and her family saying their farewells to Philip.

Tributes were paid to the duke from friends and colleagues in the hours before his interment and the Poet Laureate, Simon Armitage debuted a poem written to mark the death of the Queen’s consort.

A small group of the duke’s close family and friends will attend a televised funeral service at St George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle at 3pm.

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

Senior members of the royal family, including the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge arrived at Windsor Castle early on Saturday afternoon.

William and Kate sat side-by-side in the back of a car, both dressed in black and wearing face masks.

Charles was also wearing a mask as his car entered the grounds of the castle ahead of the service, while Camilla arrived separately.

The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby
The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby (left) outside St George’s Chapel (Justin Tallis/PA)

The Archbishop of Canterbury, who will preside over the service with the Dean of Windsor, was seen entering the Chapel.

The public have been visiting Windsor, bathed in bright spring sunshine, to pay their respects and leave flowers at the castle gates.

Prince Hassan bin Talal, a member of the Jordanian royal family, described his friend the Duke of Edinburgh as a “remarkable human being”.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today: “I think I was very close to knowing the man, the human being, and in that sense I feel the privilege in having known not only an encyclopaedia of knowledge, but also an icon of human dignity.”

He said he enjoyed the duke’s “forthrightness”, adding he did not think Philip would mind having a scaled-down funeral due to coronavirus restrictions.

“On the contrary, I think he had every right to make it as personal and as poignant,” he continued.

Duke of Edinburgh funeral
Members of the military arrive for the funeral of the Duke of Edinburgh in Windsor (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)

Philip’s coffin has throughout the week been resting in Windsor Castle’s private chapel and at 11am it was moved by a bearer party from the Queen’s Company, 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards to the royal residence’s inner hall.

The duke had a close association with the regiment serving as Colonel of the Grenadier Guards for 42 years.

His coffin was covered with a wreath, his sword, Naval cap and his personal standard.

The nation will come to a halt to observe a minute’s silence at 3pm in memory of Philip.

The Poet Laureate has published The Patriarchs – An Elegy, which pays tribute to Philip’s distinguished career in the Royal Navy and refers to his generation as “husbands to duty” and “great-grandfathers from birth”.

Admiral Tony Radakin, the First Sea Lord, who will take part in the funeral procession walking ahead of the coffin, said the duke held a “very clear affection” for the military that was reciprocated.

Police officers outside Windsor Castle
Police officers outside Windsor Castle (Andrew Matthews/PA)

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today: “I really do think that for all of us in the military, today is about a royal funeral and it is about playing our part in that, but it is for the Royal Air Force, the British Army and the Royal Navy, and to reflect our dignity and respect and the affection we all had for Prince Philip, and the very clear affection that he had for all of us.”

Highlighting the duke’s life-long association with the military he said: “He was captain general of the Royal Marines for 64 years, he was a Lord High Admiral from 2011 and then his final official engagement was with the Royal Marines when he was aged 96 at Buckingham Palace, so I think it is the consistency and the enduring connections and the affection, and how real they were, that means so much to us.”

Philip’s “unwavering loyalty” to the Queen and “courage, fortitude and faith” will be hailed at his funeral.

Duke of Edinburgh with the Queen on Muick
A personal photograph of the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh at the top of the Coyles of Muick from 2003 (The Countess of Wessex/PA)

No sermon will be delivered during the ceremonial royal service, in keeping with Philip’s wishes.

His love of the sea and long association with the Royal Navy permeates the Order of Service, with the music chosen by the duke including the hymn Eternal Father, Strong To Save – traditionally associated with seafarers and the maritime armed services.

The Dean of Windsor, in the Bidding, will pay tribute to Philip’s “kindness, humour and humanity”.

“With grateful hearts, we remember the many ways in which his long life has been a blessing to us,” he will say of Philip, who died aged 99 last Friday.

“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.

“Our lives have been enriched through the challenges that he has set us, the encouragement that he has given us, his kindness, humour and humanity.”

A touching photograph of the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh giving a glimpse of their lives away from protocol and ceremony was released on the eve of Philip’s funeral.

The royal couple are pictured as they are rarely seen – relaxing together during a summer break and enjoying the stunning scenery of the Scottish Highlands on the Balmoral estate.

Looking completely at ease and smiling warmly at the photographer, Philip and the Queen relax on the grass at the Coyles of Muick, a beauty spot near the town of Ballater in Aberdeenshire.

Charles and the Princess Royal will lead the Duke of York, Earl of Wessex and other family members walking behind the duke’s coffin, carried on a Land Rover hearse he helped design, during the funeral procession which the Queen will join, travelling by car.

Royal brothers William and Duke of Sussex, who have a troubled relationship, will not walk shoulder to shoulder but with their cousin Peter Phillips between them.

Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral: route of procession
(PA Graphics)

Philip’s love of carriage-driving will be a poignant feature of his funeral, with his carriage, which he designed, and ponies making an appearance.

The polished dark green four-wheeled carriage, accompanied by two of Philip’s grooms, will stand in the Quadrangle of Windsor Castle as the duke’s coffin is carried past in the procession.

Among the mourners will be the Duchess of Cornwall, Duchess of Cambridge, Countess of Wessex and her children Viscount Severn and Lady Louise.

Zara and Mike Tindall, Princess Beatrice and her husband Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi, Princess Eugenie and her husband Jack Brooksbank have been invited.

Also attending will be the children of the Queen’s sister Princess Margaret, three of Philip’s German relatives and his close friend Countess Mountbatten of Burma.