Prince Philip funeral: full recap of events at Windsor Castle ceremony

Saturday, 17th April 2021, 4:08 pm
The nation fell silent in memory of the Duke of Edinburgh as his funeral marking a life of service, devotion and duty began
The nation fell silent in memory of the Duke of Edinburgh as his funeral marking a life of service, devotion and duty began

A small group of close family and friends attended the funeral service of Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh at St George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle.

Covid regulations reduced the scope of the service – which began at 3pm – with public elements cancelled, mourners reduced from around 800 to just 30, and all guests wearing face masks and sitting apart.

Ahead of the ceremony, members of the public visited Windsor to pay tribute to the Duke of Edinburgh, though large crowds of royal supporters were nowhere to be seen despite the sunshine, due to coronavirus restrictions.

A large police presence was in place to prepare for possible crowds, and road signs in the area warned: “Avoid all non essential travel and do not gather at royal residences.”

Hundreds of officers and stewards wearing purple vests were in place around the historic town while police vans and motorbikes were on the roads.

Armed police officers could be seen patrolling around Windsor Castle as the large security operation surrounding the funeral got underway.

As the morning wore on a larger number of shoppers, tourists, cyclists, and sunseekers could be seen going about their day near Windsor Castle, with many stopping briefly to take pictures of the historic building; a few walked around with flowers in their hands while others could be seen wearing masks bearing Philip’s face.

Poet Laureate Simon Armitage also published new work 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”.

Here is everything that happened.

What happened before the funeral?

Philip’s coffin had throughout the week been resting in Windsor Castle’s private chapel. 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.

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

At around 2.40pm, Grenadier Guardsmen carrying the duke’s coffin emerged from Windsor Castle’s state entrance and placed it in the specially-created Land Rover.

Music was played by the tri-service band in the Quadrangle of Windsor Castle before the arrival of the coffin. The pieces played were ‘I Vow to Thee My Country’, ‘Supreme Sacrifice’, ‘Jerusalem’, ‘Isle of Beauty’, and ‘Nimrord’.

The Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral procession then set off with the coffin followed by senior royals led by the Prince of Wales and Princess Royal.

Every minute of the procession, which lasted eight minutes, a gun was fired by the King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery from the East Lawn of Windsor Castle.

Members of the royal family already at St George’s Chapel watched from the Galilee Porch entrance and bowed their heads as the procession passed.

What happened at the funeral?

Cutting a solitary figure at the front of the quire, nearest the altar, the Queen sat apart from her children

The service began at 3pm with a national minute’s silence.

A round fired by the King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery signalled the start of the national one-minute silence, and another booming volley marked its end.

A topless protester ran in front of a crowd near Windsor Castle following the minute’s silence for the Duke of Edinburgh.

The woman ran onto the road shouting “save the planet” after the crowd began clapping following the silence, jumping onto a statue of Queen Victoria before police officers removed her from the scene.

Philip’s “unwavering loyalty” to the Queen and “courage, fortitude and faith” was hailed at his funeral. No sermon was delivered during the ceremonial royal service, in keeping with Philip’s wishes.

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

Songs were performed by a choir of just three choristers and one soprano, with the congregation forbidden from singing.

David Conner, the Dean of Windsor, in the Bidding paid tribute to Philip’s “kindness, humour and humanity.” He said: “We are here today in St George’s Chapel to commit into the hands of God the soul of his servant Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.

“With grateful hearts, we remember the many ways in which his long life has been a blessing to us. 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. We therefore pray that God will give us grace to follow his example, and that, with our brother Philip, at the last, we shall know the joys of life eternal.”

Who attended the funeral?

Philip’s coffin was carried on a custom-built Land Rover Defender hearse designed by the duke and modified over 16 years

The Prince of Wales and Princess Royal lead the Duke of York, Earl of Wessex and other family members walked behind the duke’s coffin, carried on the Land Rover hearse he helped design, during the funeral procession which the Queen joined, travelling by car.

Dressed in a face mask and in sombre black, it was the first time the monarch, grieving for her devoted companion of 73 years, had been officially seen in public since Philip died eight days ago.

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

Also among the mourners was 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.

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

What happened at the end of the service?

In the final moments of the 50-minute service, the Duke of Edinburgh was interred in the Royal Vault of St George’s Chapel.

His coffin was placed on a catafalque on a marble slab in the Quire and lowered into the vault by electric motor.

After the Blessing, pronounced by the Archbishop of Canterbury, the congregation remained standing as the choir sang the national anthem.

The funeral ended at 3.49pm.

The Queen and her family left the Chapel via the Galilee Porch escorted by the Dean of Windsor and the Archbishop of Canterbury.

A version of this article originally appeared on our sister title, NationalWorld