© Reuters. Final preparations for Prince Philip’s funeral are in progress
By Andrew MacAskill and Guy Faulconbridge
WINDSOR, England (Reuters) – Queen Elizabeth and her family paid their last respects to Prince Philip at a funeral on Saturday celebrating his naval past, international heritage and seven decades of service in guiding the Queen through repeated crises.
Elizabeth, dressed in black and in a white black mask, stood alone as her 73-year-old husband was lowered into the royal vault in a service attended by high-ranking kings such as heir Prince Charles and his sons, Princes William and Harry.
The Queen was inducted alone into the ceremony at St. George’s Chapel with her children, grandchildren and a select group of royal mourners separated due to COVID-19 rules.
“We remember that day before you when Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, thanked you – for his determined faith and loyalty, for his great sense of duty and integrity,” Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby said in a prayer.
Philip, officially known as the Duke of Edinburgh, died on April 9 at the age of 99. The Queen described Philip in 1997 as her “strength and abode” during their decades of marriage.
The Archbishop praised Philip’s “life in service to the nation and the Commonwealth and for the courage and inspiration in his leadership.”
After the nation observed a minute’s silence in bright sunshine, Harry and William took their places on opposite sides of the chapel at Windsor Castle, shared by the final resting place of the Tudor monarch Henry VIII.
Philip’s naval cap and sword lay on top of the coffin, which was covered with the Duke of Edinburgh’s personal standard which contained the Danish coat of arms, Greek cross, Edinburgh Castle and the Mountbatten family’s stripes.
A wreath of white roses, lilies and jasmine from the 94-year-old queen also adorned the coffin.
The four-member choir sang a seaman’s hymn entitled “Eternal Father, Strong to Save”, and just before it was lowered into the royal vault, the Russian “Contakion of the Deceased”, a hymn of the Orthodox and Eastern churches, echoed around the old one Church. There were no eulogies.
Philip’s coffin was being carried to the chapel on a custom-made Defender TD 130 in military green when a minute gun was fired eight times.
Before the procession, military bands spread across the square of Windsor Castle to play the music chosen by the prince, including “I swear my land”, “Jerusalem” and “Nimrod”.
Philip, who married Elizabeth in 1947, helped the young queen adapt the monarchy to the changing world of the post-war era, when the loss of empire and the decline of reverence challenged the world’s most prominent royal family.
She is now widowed as she grapples with one of the worst crises to hit the royal family in decades – allegations of racism and neglect by her grandson Harry and his American-born wife Meghan.
Much media attention will focus on the royals’ behavior towards Harry, who made his first public appearance with the family since the couple gave Oprah Winfrey an explosive interview last month.
In the interview, they accused a nameless king of making a racist comment and said Meghan’s requests for help when she felt suicidal were ignored.
The couple, who moved to Los Angeles last year and resigned from royal duties, exposed their perception of the family’s attitude in a criticism of the old-fashioned customs of an old institution.
Meghan said she was silenced by “the company” while Harry said his father Charles refused to take his calls. Harry said both Charles and his brother William were imprisoned in the royal family.
Meghan watched the funeral at her California home after her doctor advised her not to travel while pregnant, a source familiar with the situation said. US broadcasters broadcast the funeral live, as did British TV broadcasters.
Mourners avoided the tradition of wearing military uniforms. A step newspaper said to embarrass Harry, who, despite two tours of Afghanistan during his military career, has no legal right to wear a uniform because he has been stripped of his military honorary degrees.
Prince Andrew, who resigned from his public duties in 2019 because of controversy over his so-called “poorly judged” association with late US financier Jeffrey Epstein, wanted to wear an admiral’s uniform at the funeral, the media reported.
Andrew sat closest to the queen.
A family opportunity
The palace previously stressed that while the occasion would have the splendor due to mark the death of a high-ranking king, it remained an opportunity for a grieving family to mark the death of a husband, father, grandfather, and great-grandfather.
There were only 30 mourners in the chapel for worship as coronavirus restrictions remain in place in the UK.
Philip’s commitment to duty earned him widespread popularity in the UK, but he was also criticized by some for a series of racist or abrupt comments that shocked princes, priests and presidents.
“He was authentically himself, with a seriously keen mind, and could get the attention of any room because of his charm and also because you never knew what to say next,” Harry said of his grandfather.
Philip was an excellent veteran of the Royal Navy of World War II, and his funeral, much of which was meticulously planned by the prince himself, had a strong military feel, with personnel from all armed forces playing a prominent role.