Queen Elizabeth lays to rest her ‘strength and stay’ Prince Philip

Published April 18, 2021
London: Members of the Royal family follow the coffin during the ceremonial funeral procession of Prince Philip to St George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle on Saturday. Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, died on April 9 at the age of 99. The 50-minute service was attended by just 30 guests.—AFP
London: Members of the Royal family follow the coffin during the ceremonial funeral procession of Prince Philip to St George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle on Saturday. Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, died on April 9 at the age of 99. The 50-minute service was attended by just 30 guests.—AFP

WINDSOR: Queen Elizabeth II on Saturday bid farewell to her late husband, Prince Philip, at a royal funeral like no other, restricted by coronavirus rules but reflecting his long life of military and public service.

The Duke of Edinburgh, who died on April 9 at age 99, was interred in the Royal Vault at St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle after a 50-minute service attended by just 30 guests.

The Queen, 94, seen for the first time since his death, sat alone dressed in mourning black, with a white-trimmed, black face mask. Close family, also masked, sat socially distanced in the historic 15th-century Gothic chapel.

Philip — described by royals as “the grandfather of the nation” — was Britain’s longest-serving royal consort and was married to the Queen for 73 years.

He was an almost constant presence at her side during her record-breaking reign that began in 1952 as Britain rebuilt from World War II, and as its global empire began to unravel.

His death, which the family said had left a “huge void” in the Queen’s life, has robbed of her of the man she called her “strength and stay” and closes a remarkable chapter for Britain’s most famous family, and in the country’s history.

The last high-profile funeral of a senior royal was for the Queen’s mother, who died in 2002, aged 101.

But unlike then, when more than one million people thronged outside Westminster Abbey in central London to watch the sombre pageant, the public was noticeably absent from Saturday’s ceremony.

The coronavirus pandemic forced hasty revisions to the well-rehearsed plans for the duke’s death, code-named “Operation Forth Bridge”, stripping back public elements to prevent large crowds from gathering.

Government guidelines limited the number of mourners and a quartet performed hymns the duke chose himself in a barren nave stripped of seating. Bottles of hand sanitiser was seen among the floral tributes inside.

The intimate, ceremonial funeral from behind the stately castle walls was broadcast live on television to millions across Britain and the world.

A military gun was fired to signal a minute’s silence when his coffin arrived at the chapel on a bespoke Land Rover he designed himself.

The coffin was draped in his standard and topped by a wreath of white roses and lilies from the Queen as well as his naval cap and ceremonial sword.

Across Britain — on the streets, in shops, railway stations and at sporting events — people bowed their heads with respect. Prime Minister Boris Johnson, dressed in black, observed the silence at his country retreat, Chequers.

Flights in an out of nearby Heathrow Airport were stopped for the duration of the ceremony.

Ieuan Jones, 37, travelled to Windsor from his home in the Welsh capital, Cardiff, and called Philip “a strong man, a true hero (who) did so much for this country and the royal family”.

“It’s really a shame that because of the pandemic we can’t pay a wider tribute to the exceptional man he was,” he said.

Despite the restrictions, the stripped-down sendoff for the former Royal Navy commander still combined centuries of royal protocol with pomp, pageantry — and military precision.

Members of the British armed forces, in formal dress, lined the procession route, heads bowed, as the cortege passed, as a minute gun rang out across the grounds and a bell tolled.

Philip’s grandsons William, 38, and Harry, 36, joined the procession, in their first public meeting since a reported falling out about Harry’s shock move to California, and his stinging criticism of royal life, including racism in the family.

Published in Dawn, April 18th, 2021

Opinion

Trouble in Camelot
Updated 06 May 2021

Trouble in Camelot

The electorate knows better than to swallow the government’s rhetoric.
Time to wake up
Updated 05 May 2021

Time to wake up

The criticism reflects our failure to counter rising religious intolerance and bigotry, and also exposes a diplomatic debacle.

Editorial

Proceed with caution
Updated 06 May 2021

Proceed with caution

The slightest loosening of SOP protocols could send us hurling in the direction where India finds itself today.
06 May 2021

IPP dues

THE ECC decision to pay the first tranche of outstanding dues of one set of IPPs, and further delay the payments of...
06 May 2021

Violence against doctors

HEALTHCARE workers and doctors’ associations in two major hospitals of KP are adamant that the KP Healthcare...
05 May 2021

Path of growth

FINANCE MINISTER Shaukat Tarin finally specified the future direction that the country’s economic policy will take...
05 May 2021

Human rights 2020

THE human rights situation in Pakistan, almost predictably bleak every year, was deeply impacted in 2020 by an...
Unreasonable behaviour
Updated 05 May 2021

Unreasonable behaviour

Usman Buzdar should reprimand Dr Awan for her coarse behaviour and make sure she tenders a public apology.