Prince Philip’s funeral last weekend was unique for many aspects, including many meticulously planned by the duke himself over the past two decades.
But one of the most unusual passed almost unnoticed on the day, despite being in plain sight for the millions watching the sombre royal occasion from around the globe.
The Duke of Edinburgh organised for a photographer to hide in a fake pillar on the steps of St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle to capture close-up snaps of the ceremony.
Arthur Edwards – a veteran photographer who has covered the royal family for more than 40 years – had an amazing vantage point to capture “the family’s pain up close” at Saturday’s funeral.
“The duke, who planned every moment of [his] moving funeral service, had arranged for me as a photographer to hide inside a fake pillar at the top of the stairs leading to St George’s Chapel,” the 80-year-old snapper wrote in The Sun.
“With a letter box-shaped slit, it was just like the bird-watching hides where Prince Philip spent hours during his retirement at Sandringham, his Norfolk estate.”
“From the most unusual vantage point of my 44 years of photographing the royals, I was close enough to see Prince Charles – the man I have known for more than half his life – look broken.”
Edwards also watched as Philip’s grandsons, Princes William and Harry, walked behind the royal coffin, which was draped with the duke’s personal standard and a wreath of white flowers chosen by the Queen. The estranged princes “never glanced at each other” as they walked into the church with other senior royals, he wrote.
Edwards had a ring-side view as Royal Marines carried the duke’s coffin into the church.
“From my ‘hide’, I could see the immense pride etched on the faces of the eight Royal Marines chosen to be pallbearers for the man who had been their Captain General for 64 years,” he wrote.
“In their black tunics with red sashes, they marched the grand old duke halfway up the stone staircase before halting, shouldering his lead-lined coffin of English oak while the nation held a minute’s silence.”
The royal family is continuing to grieve this week, following the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral, although the UK’s period of national mourning has ended.
After almost 70 years as head of state, the Queen will for the first time reign without her husband by her side.
She sat on her own during the funeral service that bore Philip’s touch and celebrated his life and legacy, and is expected to celebrate her 95th birthday quietly on Wednesday.
Family plans since the funeral have not been made public. Nor is it known how long Prince Harry intends to stay in Britain before heading back to his pregnant wife in the US.
Meghan Markle, the Duchess of Sussex, is thought to be about seven months pregnant with the couple’s second child, a daughter.