He had been a constant by her side for almost 74 years, but as the Duke of Edinburgh was laid to rest on Saturday, the Queen was a solitary figure, forced to sit alone at St George’s Chapel in Windsor because of Covid distancing rules.
The event, meticulously planned by Prince Philip and adapted to work around restrictions brought about by the pandemic, saw the him praised for his “resolute faith and loyalty” during his time as the nation’s longest-serving royal consort.
Carried towards St George’s Chapel on a Land Rover Defender he had helped to design for the event, the funeral involved more than 730 members of the armed forces in a spectacle that drew scores of onlookers onto the streets of Windsor.
However, due to social distancing rules only 30 mourners - primarily the duke’s children, grandchildren, and the Queen - were able to attend the ceremony in St George’s chapel beside Windsor Castle.
As the Band of the Grenadier Guards played Beethoven’s Funeral March No 1 to the beating of a military drum, the Prince of Wales, Princess Royal, Duke of York and Earl of Wessex walked behind their father’s coffin - followed by the Dukes of Cambridge and Sussex.
The queen rode behind the procession in a car, following the funeral march of a man who had been described as her shadow up until his passing.
While the focus of the day remained on the passing of the duke, the shadow of schisms in the royal family remained - his funeral procession marking a rare public appearance from Prince Andrew following his defence of his friendship with disgraced billionaire paedophile Jeffrey Epstein, and the first time Prince William and Harry had been seen together since the latter stepped back from royal life.
Draped across the casket was the duke’s standard - bearing symbols of his lineage and relationship to Denmark, Greece and the Mountbatten family, as well as the arms of the City of Edinburgh. A white floral arrangement, made up of roses and lilies chosen by the queen, sat on top alongside a handwritten note from the monarch.
As the Duke’s body was lifted up the steps of the chapel a minute’s silence was announced by the firing of a cannon, observed by both those in attendance and others around the country.
The Queen, who once described her partner as her “strength and stay”, sat alone throughout the ceremony, with a black mask covering her face throughout the service as the dean of Windsor spoke of her husband’s “kindness, humour and humanity” over the course of his life.
“With grateful hearts, we remember the many ways in which his long life has been a blessing to us,” the dean said.
“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.”
In a prayer the Archbishop of Canterbury gave thanks for the duke’s “resolute faith and loyalty” as well for “his high sense of duty and integrity, for his life of service to the nation and Commonwealth, and for the courage and inspiration of his leadership”.
Prince Philip was lowered into the vault of the chapel along with his admiral of the fleet naval cap and sword as his titles were read aloud, with the Queen on one side of his coffin and her heir on the other.
From the nave of the church the last post was played by buglers from the Royal Marines, a force the duke served as Captain General for six decades, followed by a call of action stations, a naval call to battle, at Prince Philip’s request.
While the royals have grieved privately following the passing of the 99-year-old patriarch, members of the family made their own remarks in the run-up to his funeral service.
Prince Harry described his grandfather as “master of the barbecue, legend of banter, and cheeky right till the end” while the Prince William said he would uphold the duke’s wishes to support the Queen and “get on with the job”.
Prince Charles praised his “dear Papa” for the “most remarkable, devoted service to the queen, to my family and to the country”.