Queen Elizabeth II cut a lonely figure at Windsor Castle today as she said her final goodbye to her husband of 73 years, Prince Philip.
The Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral in St George’s Chapel was being held in accordance with coronavirus restrictions, meaning only 30 family members and close friends were allowed, and they had to practise social distancing.
Shortly before 3pm, local time, Philip’s coffin was carried out of Windsor Castle’s state entrance and placed on an adapted Land Rover of the Prince’s own design for the procession to the chapel.
Several close family members, including Prince Charles, Princess Anne, Prince Andrew, Prince William and Prince Harry, walked behind the car.
Her Majesty followed in a Bentley, accompanied by a lady-in-waiting, Susan Hussey.
The Queen then entered the chapel before the rest of the procession.
She sat alone in the quire, while other mourners were separated into family bubbles.
The Queen, 94, sat nearest the altar, alone in the chapel’s Quire, two metres from any family members and wearing a face mask. She took no active part in the ceremony.
Inside the chapel, William and Harry were apart. William and Kate sat on one side of the chapel, opposite Harry, who was on the same side as the Queen, Prince Andrew, Princess Anne and her husband Vice Admiral Sir Tim Laurence.
The Queen bowed her head in silence as David Connor, the Dean of Windsor, began the funeral service.
“We are here today in St George’s Chapel to commit into the hands of God the soul of his servant Prince Philip,” said the Dean.
“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.”
The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic were evident in other parts of the service as well. Instead of the usual full choir one would expect, there were only four singers, each of them spaced apart.
Guests were not allowed to sing at all.
As Philip’s coffin was lowered into the Royal Vault, where his body will remain until the Queen dies and he is moved to be with her, the Dean spoke again.
“Go forth upon thy journey from this world, oh Christian soul,” he said.
“In the name of God the Father Almighty who created thee; in the name of Jesus Christ who suffered for thee; in the name of the Holy Spirit who strengtheneth thee; may thy portion this day be in peace, and they dwelling in the heavenly Jerusalem. Amen.”
The Queen’s isolation during the service, and the emptiness of the chapel, were a powerful reminder of the ordeal many others have suffered after losing loved ones during the pandemic, as several viewers noted.
The Queen's tribute to her royal consort
The Queen described her “deep sorrow” when announcing the death of her beloved husband.
It’s understood she was by his side when he died “peacefully” last Friday.
The Duke of Edinburgh spent his final days at the castle with his wife, who he lovingly called Lilibet throughout their long life together, after a 28-night stay in hospital, having been admitted in mid-February for an infection and a pre-existing heart condition. They had been married for 73 years. His wife has been Queen for 69 of those years.
Philip is survived by his wife, Queen Elizabeth II, and his children Charles, Prince of Wales; Anne, Princess Royal; Prince Andrew, Duke of York; and Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex.
– NZ Herald & news.com.au
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