Queen Elizabeth cut a solo figure in St George’s Chapel as she bade final farewell to her companion of 73 years at a muted and intimate royal funeral marked by a global pandemic.
With her face in a mask and barely looking up, the Queen stood alone as Prince Philip (1921 – 2021) was lowered into the Royal Vault in a pared back family service with no eulogies.
The televised affair was a celebration of the duke’s naval past, his international heritage and seven decades of service and included a national minute’s silence in brilliant sunshine.
It was attended by close family members, including Princes William and Harry whose apparent personal rift was being closely watched by the world.
The brothers walked apart for the procession and sat opposite one another in the chapel but were seen chatting after the service of their grandfather.
It was the first time they have spoken in public since Harry and his wife Meghan gave an interview to Oprah Winfrey last month.
Prince Philip’s funeral, which had a limit of 30 mourners inside the chapel, was the Queen’s first public appearance since her husband’s death.
The congregation, which included Prince Philip’s children, grandchildren and a select group of royal mourners, wore masks and were separated due to COVID-19 rules.
Philip, officially known as the Duke of Edinburgh, died aged 99 on April 9, and was intimately involved in planning his own service.
Before the procession, military bands spaced out across the quadrangle of Windsor Castle played the prince’s chosen music, including I Vow To Thee My Country, Jerusalem and Nimrod.
Philip’s coffin was transported the short distance to the chapel on the grounds of Windsor Castle on a bespoke Land Rover Defender TD 130 in military green which he had helped design.
Princess Anne and Prince Charles made up the front row of the funeral procession which trailed the vehicle on foot, followed by Prince Edward and Prince Andrew.
Prince William and Prince Harry walked either side of their cousin Peter Phillips.
In another break with tradition, the royal family did not wear military uniform but morning coats with medals or day dresses.
The Queen arrived at the chapel separately, attended by a lady in waiting while, other members of the congregation including Charles’ wife Camilla, Kate Middleton and princesses Beatrice and Eugenie arrived by car.
Harry’s pregnant wife Meghan watched the funeral proceedings from her home in Los Angeles as she was unable to attend due to doctor’s orders.
The Dean of Windsor, David Conner, who conducted the service, reflected on the duke’s “kindness, humour and humanity” during the ceremony.
“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,” he said.
Philip’s naval cap and sword lay on top of the coffin, which was covered with the Duke of Edinburgh’s personal standard featuring the Danish coat of arms, the Greek cross, Edinburgh Castle and the stripes of the Mountbatten family.
A wreath of white roses, lilies and jasmine from the 94-year-old Queen also adorned the coffin.
The small four-person choir sang a sailors’ hymn – Eternal Father, Strong to Save – and shortly before he was lowered into the Royal Vault, the Russian Kontakion of the Departed, a hymn of the Orthodox and Eastern churches, echoed around the ancient church.
Philip, who married Elizabeth in 1947, helped the young Queen adapt the monarchy to the changing world of the post-World War II era as the loss of empire and the decline of deference challenged the world’s most prominent royal family.
The palace emphasised beforehand that while the occasion would have the due pageantry that marks the passing of a senior royal, it remained an occasion for a mourning family to mark the passing of a husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather.
There were just 30 mourners inside the chapel for the service because of continuing coronavirus restrictions in UK.
Philip was a decorated Royal Navy veteran of World War Two and his funeral, much of which was planned in meticulous detail by the prince himself, had a strong military feel, with personnel from across the armed forces playing prominent roles.
The Queen led the royal family from the chapel followed by the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall.
The Queen had a brief conversation with the Dean of Windsor outside the chapel before being driven away.
Australia was represented by Defence Adviser to the UK Commodore Guy Holthouse who was positioned in the Horseshoe Cloister of Windsor Castle as the coffin arrived to a guard of honour.
St Peter’s Cathedral in Adelaide is due to hold a memorial service for the prince on Sunday evening officiated by the head of the Anglican Church in Australia, Archbishop of Adelaide Geoff Smith.
Prince Philip visited Australia 21 times, the first in 1940, before his marriage to the then-Princess Elizabeth.