When future historians come to tell the story of the pandemic, the image of the queen sitting alone, masked and in mourning, will surely be among the most poignant.
The Duke of Edinburgh’s final farewell to St George’s Chapel was unlike any other royal burial. And while this is no ordinary family, with mourners capped at 30 and only non-socially distant casket bearers, it wasn’t a small token way.
There was as much military pageantry as could be safely assembled in the quadrangle of Windsor Castle, ablaze with a blazing sun with ceremonial uniforms and guidons and richly embroidered colors, flags of regimental units , all draped in black crepe. There were TV cameras instead of impersonal Zoom links.
But the Royal Family have not been spared the brutal impact of restrictions the virus has placed on the hundreds of thousands of grieving Britons who have also been forced to say goodbye to loved ones in a way they won’t. not choose.
The feeling of parsimony was inevitable. A coffin carried through an empty chapel nave of its seats and housing a tiny choir of four, the sound of bugles, trumpets and bagpipes echoing on its bare stone walls and its fan-vaulted roof. It was not the long-planned departure for the 99-year-old Duke, who died on April 9.
The Queen, in black and wearing Queen Mary’s eye-catching Richmond brooch, arrived in Bentley State from other royals in a fleet of Rolls-Royce Phantoms. Stripped of the ceremonial shell of military uniforms, those who walked behind the coffin, in step and in silence, looked somehow more vulnerable in day and day dress with medals.
Eyes, inevitably, were on the grandsons, Princes William and Harry, amid reports of their breakup. Physically separated in the procession by their cousin, Peter Phillips, their eyes remained on the front throughout, betraying nothing.
The siblings were seated apart and directly across from different sides of the 15th century aisle, William with Kate, Harry alone. He hadn’t seen his family for a year. The Duchess of Sussex, who is pregnant and advised not to fly, is said to have watched the service on television at her home in California.
At the end of the service, however, William and Harry chatted as they walked with Kate up the hill towards the castle.
Prince Andrew was also seated alone, two seats away from his mother. Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall were across the aisle from the Queen.
Within the Gothic splendor of the chapel, a group of Royal Marines bearers carried the coffin to the purple velvet-draped catafalque in front of the altar, on which were placed nine cushions bearing his badge.
The Queen and members of the Royal Family, all masked, sat under the banners of Knights and Garter Ladies, in the house of the oldest British Order of Chivalry, to which Philip was installed in 1948 by George VI. The Duke’s own banner, adorned with his coat of arms, was removed upon his death, along with the heraldic accessories of his sword, helmet and crest. His garter stall plate will remain, and a traditional laurel wreath has been placed in his stall.
Shrunken back, the service focused on the essence of a man who was essentially self-deprecating and who, the Queen once said, “doesn’t take compliments easily.” There was no eulogy or sermon.
Tributes were left to the two members of the clergy present. Windsor Dean David Conner praised her “kindness, humor and humanity” and said the nation was “inspired by her unwavering loyalty to our Queen”. The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, thanked for “his steadfast faith and loyalty” and his “high sense of duty and integrity”.
The Garter King of Arms read aloud the Duke’s 15 Styles and Titles, which isn’t a bad record for a penniless royal born man with the worthless title of Prince Philip of Greece nearly a decade ago. ‘a century.
A man’s thread in the Royal Navy was tightly sewn with the skill of sailors throughout the service. Her admiral’s naval cap of the fleet and the sword offered at her marriage by George VI, surmounted the oak casket, which was covered with her personal standard and the queen’s crown of white flowers – lilies, roses, freesia , wax flower, sweet peas and jasmine.
Part of the piping on the boatswain’s whistles channeled the custom of the nautical gangway, the Still used to grab the attention of the crew as the Duke’s modified Land Rover hearse stopped at the door of the chapel; and the Side, used to accommodate senior officers on board, as porters carried the coffin to the west steps and stopped for a minute of national silence; and the Carry On, calling for the crew to resume their duties, as the coffin was slowly transported inside, the chapel doors closing behind it.
Although reduced, 730 members of the armed forces still participated, among them representatives of HMS Magpie. The latest addition to the Royal Navy hydrographic squadron, it is named after Philip’s only command on the anti-submarine frigate HMS Magpie from 1950 to 51.
Tiny cannons were fired from the castle’s eastern lawn, and the castle’s curfew tower bell rang during the eight-minute procession. A minute of national silence began and ended with gunfire from salute stations in the UK and Gibraltar.
Led by the band of the Grenadier Guards, their drums draped in black, the procession was led by senior military officials, including the Chief of the Defense Staff, General Sir Nick Carter, as befitted a decorated veteran World War II and to an accomplished pre-marriage commander required. he sacrificed his career. “We all have immense respect for him,” Carter said before the service. “We have immense respect for his war record and the care he showed to veterans and those still in service, and it will be a dark time for us, but it will also be a time of celebration, I think, because it was a special life and a life well lived.
Dismounted detachments of the Household Cavalry’s Life Guards and Blues and Royals stood at attention outside the chapel, and on-duty personnel from the Marines, RAF, Highlanders, Ceremonial Bodyguards and Knights Windsor soldiers all lined the procession’s route. Guards from Windsor Castle walked to the parade ground.
A melodious lament, the last message and the alarm clock sounded at the end of the service. Next, Action Stations, a seven-second bugle call to bring the warship crew to combat positions, was played at Philip’s request. The catafalque, last used for George VI’s funeral in 1952, slowly flowed through the floor of the chapel to the royal vault below, carried on an elevator installed by George III.
Eventually, the Duke will rest next to the Queen in the George VI Memorial Chapel. For now, however, he rests alongside kings, queens and 24 other royals in the royal vault, to become an indelible and colorful footnote in the country’s history.