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The Grieving Windsors: Prince Philip's Poignant Farewell

It was a bright Saturday afternoon over England when His Royal Highness, The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, was laid to rest at St. George's Chapel, just a few miles away from Windsor castle.

The Duke died peacefully at Windsor Castle on April 9, 2021 at the age of 99, just two months short for his centenary birthday celebration this coming June 10.

As the nation deeply mourned the passing of the Queen's husband, and the Royal Family plunged in grief, we're offering our deepest condolences to the House of Windsor especially to Her Majesty who will now face her reign without the presence of her husband of 73 years.

The scaled back funeral service

Prince Philip was the most senior family member of the British royal family to die since the Queen Mother's death in 2002, and the first death of a British monarch's consort in 19 years.

Prince Philip got his wish for a simple funeral. He was known for disliking fuss on elaborate celebrations. However, the pandemic helped things favorable to the wishes of His Royal Highness. 

The funeral service was scaled back due to COVID-19 government rules for large gatherings, limiting to 30 attendees only inside the church. As a result, only 30 closest family members attended the service at St. George's Chapel.

The Royal Family has been known to have direct involvement with the planning of their funerals. And Prince Philip was no exemption. He had long been directly involved with the planning of his funeral service for the last 18 years.

The Land Rover carrying Prince Philip's casket

"Just stick me in the back of a land rover", his most famous statement when asked how he would be transported to his final resting place.

Prince Philip and the Land Rover began the project 18 years ago to create a bespoke Land Rover to be used at his funeral. It was built using a Land Rover Defender TD5 130 chassis cab vehicle, made at Land Rover's factory in 2003. 

It was modified and repainted in military green at the request of His Royal Highness to symbolize his service in the military as a lieutenant in the British Royal Navy during World War II.

Prince Philip used Land Rovers throughout his life. And throughout his tenure as a prince consort, he expressed interest in design, technology and engineering. And had visited Land Rover's manufacturing facilities on numerous occasions. 

Due to COVID-19 restrictions on large gatherings, the Ceremonial Royal Funeral for the Duke was further remapped with only closest family members were invited to the service.

At the request of Prince Philip that his blood family must be represented during his funeral, three German princes were invited to represent his four older sisters: Prince Philipp of Hohenloe-Langeburg for Princess Margarita, Prince Berthold, the Hereditary Prince of Baden for Princess Theodora, and Prince Donatus of Hesse for Princess Cecille and Princess Sophie.

His closest friend, Penny Knatchbull, Countess Mountbatten of Burma, also a granddaughter-in-law of his maternal uncle, Lord Mountbatten, was also part of the funeral service.

Only four members of the choir served the service and they were in a socially-distanced area, far from the congregation.

The chief mourners

All of the four children of Prince Philip followed his coffin on foot from Windsor Castle to the church. The Prince of Wales, the Princess Royal, the Duke of York and the Earl of Wessex, behind them were the Duke's grandsons, the Duke of Cambridge, Peter Phillips, and the Duke of Sussex.

Prince Charles and Princess Anne led the mourners at their father's funeral

Following them were the Queen's nephew (son of Princess Margaret), The 2nd Earl of Snowdon, and Vice Admiral Sir Tim Laurence, Princess Anne's husband.

Behind them were the six loyal aides of Prince Philip.

The chief mourners were not in military uniform unlike traditional royal funeral. It was noted that the Queen decided to let them wore morning suit instead to show a sign of family unity and spare her grandson from embarrassment.

It was feared that Prince Harry might be the only senior royal to wear a civilian clothing since stripping of his military honors when he gave up his senior royal responsibilities and lived in America. 

They were allowed however to wear their military honorary medals.

Prince Philip, Prince William, Charles Spencer, Prince Harry and Prince Charles during the funeral of Princess Diana in September 1997

The funeral procession brought a poignant memory on Prince William and Prince Harry as Prince Philip stood by them during their grief on Princess Diana's death and walked with them on the funeral procession to Westminster Abby on September 6, 1997.

The branches of military

Apart from being Britain's longest-serving prince consort, Prince Philip was a British Royal Navy officer who saw action during World War II. Although at that time he was still a Prince of Greece and Denmark, he was fighting on the side of Britain.

Members of the Grenadier Guards, where Prince Philip once its Colonel-in-Chief, carried the coffin out of Windsor Castle and unto the Land Rover

During his funeral service, all branches of the British Armed Forces were represented. They lined on the processional route and the military band played music on the castle quadrangle and during the funeral procession.

Members of the Grenadier Guards carried the Duke's coffin from Windsor Castle to the Land Rover while members of the Royal Marines were the pall bearers going to the church.

Pall bearers in the church were members of The Royal Marines where Prince Philip was Captain General for 60 years until 2017

Members of the Royal Navy Piping Guards whistled simultaneously to signal the arrival of the Duke's coffin at St. George's Chapel.

Prince Philip was Colonel-in-Chief of the Grenadier Guards and Captain General of the Royal Marines.

Prince Philip's royal insignia

Prince Philip's coffin was draped in his personal royal standard flag which symbolized his birth. The design divided into quarters that signify his roots and current noble house.

The coffin was draped by Prince Philip's personal royal standard flag

The top left section of the flag is a golden yellow and features nine hearts and three lions, evoking the coat-of-arms of the Royal House of Glucksburg of Denmark and Greece. Across is a blue rectangle with a white cross, which symbolized the national flag of Greece. These symbols represent Prince Philip's dual royal lineage from Denmark and Greece.

The other side of the flag shows the emblem of the noble house of Mountbatten and the Edinburgh to represent his own noble house.

Prince Philip was born on June 10, 1921 at the Greek royal family summer residence in Mon Repos, in the Greek island of Corfu. He was born a Prince of Greece and Denmark and was in line of succession to both thrones prior to his marriage to the future Queen.

In 1947, he renounced his place in the line of succession to the Greek throne to become a British subject for his marriage to then Princess Elizabeth. He then adopted his maternal grandfather's surname, Mountbatten, the Anglicized version of Battenberg.

Atop his casket was a sword, which was given to him by his father-in-law, King George VI, on the evening of his wedding in 1947. And a royal navy cap, his officer's cap during his service in the Royal Navy.

A wreath of fresh white blooms, personally chosen by the Queen, laid on top with a handwritten note from Her Majesty.

Members of The Royal Marines carried Prince Philip's coffin to the church

In the altar of St. George's Chapel were cushions containing the personal regalia of Prince Philip, which  includes medals and decorations bestowed to him by the United Kingdom, the Commonwealth countries, together with his Field Marshal baton, Royal Airforce Wings. 

Prince Philip's royal insignia, medals and honors

It also included the insignia from Denmark - the Order of the Elephant, and Greece - the Order of the Redeemer - to symbolize his birth as Prince of Greece and Denmark.

Part of Prince Philip's insignia on display:

  • The Order of Merit
  • The Royal Victorian Chain
  • Order of the Brilliant Star of Zanzibar
  • Brunei Esteemed Family Order
  • Singapore Order of Darjah Utama Temasek
  • Thistle Breast Star and Badge
  • Royal Airforce Wings
  • Field Marshal's Baton
  • Garter Collar and Greater George
  • Garter Breast Star
  • Lesser George
  • British Empire Collar and Grand Masters Badge
  • British Empire Breast Star and Badge
  • Royal Victorian Order Collar and Badge
  • Royal Victorian Order Breast Star and Badge
  • Order of the Elephant (insignia of Denmark)
  • Order of the Redeemer (insignia of Greece)
  • Order of Australian Knight
  • Order of New Zealand
  • Order of Canada
  • Canada Order of Military Merit
  • Papua New Guinea Order of Logohu
Full royal titles of Prince Philip

From birth (June 10, 1921) to January 1947 - His Royal Highness Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark
February 1947 - November 1947 - Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten, R.N (Royal Navy)
November 1947 - June 1957 - His Royal Highness, Sir Philip Mountbatten, the Duke of Edinburgh, Earl Merrionith, Baron Greenwich
June 1957 - April 9, 2021 - His Royal Highness, The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, Earl Merrionith, Baron Greenwich.

Inside the St. George's Chapel

He was Captain General of the Royal Marines from 1957 to 2017 when he transferred it to Prince Harry upon his retirement from public life. When Prince Harry turned back from his senior royal role, he was stripped of his military honors and the Captain General of the Royal Marines were transferred to Princess Anne.

Prince Philip was Admiral of the Fleet in the Royal Navy and Lord High Admiral of the United Kingdom up to the time of his death.

He was Royal Knight of the Most Noble Order of the Garter (the highest chivalric order in the United Kingdom), Her Majesty's Member of the Privy Council both in UK and Canada, Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order and Companion of the Order of Australia, until his death.

Final Resting Place

After the funeral service at St. George's Chapel, Prince Philip's coffin was lowered down to the Royal Vault in the chapel. The electric motor lowering the casket was caught on camera, something that has not happened in previous royal funerals.

 
The royal vault contained the remains of previous British monarchs like King Henry VIII and his third wife, Queen Jane, King Charles I, King George IV, King William IV, King George III and his wife, Queen Charlotte.

But it was not the Duke's final resting place. 

When the Queen dies, he will be transferred to King George VI Memorial Chapel to lay beside the Queen. The small chapel contained the remains of King George VI, his wife, Queen Elizabeth, and daughter, Princess Margaret.

The funeral music

His Royal Highness's years in the military service were reflected throughout the day. Almost 800 members from the different branches of the British armed forces lined up the route of the funeral procession. 

Outside St. George's Chapel

The touchy scene was even more moving when the military bands performed in the quadrangle of Windsor Castle prior to the service. 

The Tri-Service band of the Royal Navy, the Royal Airforce and the British army played music according to the Duke's selection. "Jerusalem", "I Vow To Thee My Country", and "Nimrod".

The Royal Navy Piping Guards blew the whistle when the coffin was brought by the members of the Royal Marines inside the church.

The Buglers of the Royal Marines

At the close of the service, as the coffin was lowered to the Royal Vault, the Buglers of the Royal Marines, sounded Action Stations. 

This was requested by Prince Philip himself to signify his service in the Royal Navy. The Action Stations traditionally signify an announcement to be made on a naval warship that all hands should go to battle stations.

Observance in other countries

Prior to the funeral service, gun salutes were observed throughout the United Kingdom and in Malta where Prince Philip was stationed as a Commander of HMS Magpie before his wife's accession to the throne.

In Sweden, the Seraphim Toll was rung in the Riddarholmen Church in Stockholm in memory of Prince Philip. During the Seraphim Toll, the Duke’s Seraphim arms were positioned in the chancel by Per Sandin, Vice Chancellor of the Royal Orders of Knighthood. 

Prince Philip's Seraphim emblem in Sweden

The arms now hang in the Riddarholmen Church together with the arms of other deceased knights and members. Prince Philip was 683rd Knight of the Seraphim. He was appointed to the Knight of the Order of the Seraphim by his uncle, King Adolph VI Gustaf of Sweden, whose second wife, Queen Louise, was his maternal aunt.

The Grieving Family of Windsor

Due to COVID-19 rules on social distancing, the Queen was forced to sit alone inside the chapel apart from her family. The pandemic restrictions in the United Kingdom allow only household members to sit with each other in gatherings.

Prince Charles and Camilla

Since none of Her Majesty's children and relatives stayed with her at Windsor during the pandemic time and she and Prince Philip were only supported by few staff in the so called "HMS bubble", she was left sitting alone in the chapel.

Other family members seated in group according to household. Prince Andrew and Prince Harry were seen sitting apart from their families because they had no one in their household joining them in the chapel.

However, the pandemic rules brought focus on the grieving royal family rather than on the spectacle of a royal funeral. As no other people attending the service other than them, the situation was more solemn and private.

No Eulogy

In life, Prince Philip did not want any gratifications, in death, his wishes to have a simple funeral service were granted. Thus, there was no Eulogy delivered during the 50-minute service in the church.

The Queen did not speak nor her children. During the service, only the blessings from the Dean of Windsor and Archbishop of Canterbury. And Her Majesty's Garter at Arms, who recited Prince Philip's full royal titles and honors.

A poignant funeral service

The funeral service last April 17 could have been what Prince Philip all wanted for his funeral - solemn, private, scaled-back and less pageantry. 

Indeed, it was intimate, touching, but elegant.

Men in morning suit and medals while women in long black dress and black hat. Prince Charles and Princess Anne looked visibly more grief-stricken among the royal family members. They were pictures of unimaginable pain and torment while walking behind the coffin of their father.

The Queen, who was on the car with her long-serving lady-in-waiting, Lady Susan Hussey, a godmother of Prince William, was seen wiping her tears while inside the car.

It was impossible to imagine the pain she was feeling, watching the coffin of her husband of 73 years ushered inside the chapel. At some point, she bowed her head so low her hat had covered entirely her face and neck.

The widowhood of the Queen
 
According to Princess Anne, they had been preparing themselves on what would be the worst to come for Prince Philip, however, no one could ever really prepare on grief. It's something always surprising, and painful to many, especially in this most difficult moment of our time.

The Queen seated alone in the church during the service

The Queen, who adored her husband since she was 13, is now preparing a life alone without her staunchest supporter and protector.

Prince Philip had not really left Her Majesty's side since her accession to the throne in 1952. He was her devoted consort and husband, her private advisor and the captain of her ship. 

The Queen and Prince Philip during Trooping the Colors

Though Prince Philip always walked two steps (as what royal protocols dictate) behind the Queen in public, in private he ran the House of Windsor and took charge of the family's decision according to royal sources.

The Queen will celebrate her 95th birthday this coming April 21 and the first time in 73 years that she will celebrate it without her husband whom she married in November 1947 and who had been at her side during the most challenging times of her reign.

For the second straight year, according to palace sources, there would be no gun salute for Her Majesty's birthday in line with the pandemic guidelines. Her official birthday celebration is observed every second Saturday of June during Trooping the Colors. 

Who will inherit his title?

In 1999, following the marriage of Prince Edward, the youngest child of the Queen and Prince Philip, it was announced that he will inherit his father's title, Duke of Edinburgh, in due time.

However, there are restrictions before Prince Edward, the Earl of Wessex, could officially inherit the title. In 1947, when the title was created by King George VI, the father of Queen Elizabeth II, for Prince Philip, it was sealed with a Letter Patent.

Prince Philip and his youngest son, Prince Edward, the Earl of Wessex

The king's Letter Patent specified that the title would be inherited by Prince Philip's eldest son and until such time that it will merge with the crown that the title becomes available to be bestowed to others.

In this case, Duke of Edinburgh is now automatically inherited by Prince Charles but would not officially use it. It will merge to the Crown when he becomes king someday and that would be the only time that the title be given officially to the Earl of Wessex.


Farewell to you Your Royal Highness, may you find joy in the afterlife. Thank you for your devotion to public duty and loyalty to the Queen and the country. Rest In Peace. 

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