The UK’s official mourning period ends on Sunday, a day after the royal ceremonial funeral of Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, that brought together senior royals in a procession to St. George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle where the longest-serving consort to a British monarch was laid to rest. The much-talked-about feud between Princes William and Harry, described by the latter as space in last month’s controversial interview with American TV host Oprah Winfrey, seemed to somewhat ease up as the brothers were seen chatting as they walked out of the chapel following their grandfather’s funeral.
Kate Middleton, who has previously been described by husband Prince William as a peacemaker, was observed on camera as being instrumental in this manoeuvre as the trio walked back up Chapel Hill to the castle. “It was a family occasion which recognised His Royal Highness’ military associations and included some unique personal touches, in line with the Duke’s wishes, Buckingham Palace said of Saturday’s ceremony.
Queen Elizabeth II, who bid farewell to her husband of 73 years, was seen for the first time since his passing on April 9 and, according to UK media reports, carried with her personal items such as a cherished photograph during the sombre ceremony. The monarch, who turns 95 next Wednesday, sat alone wearing a face mask under the coronavirus lockdown restrictions, as did the limited number of 30 guests made up of close family and friends of the Prince Philip.
At the end of the televised ceremony, during which tributes were paid to the Duke’s service to the Queen, Britain and the Commonwealth, the royal family were given a few private moments off camera to bid farewell to the 99-year-old Duke. His coffin was then interred in the Royal Vault underneath St. George’s Chapel. That will, however, not be his final resting place as when the Queen dies, the coffin will be transferred to the church’s King George VI memorial chapel to lie alongside his wife.
According to The Sunday Times’, the Duke may have got his inspiration from the funeral in 1979 of his uncle Earl Mountbatten the last Viceroy of India, whose coffin was transported by a military Land Rover. Nothing was left to chance on Saturday as an identical vehicle stood ready in case of mishaps and the procession arrived in the Castle quadrangle to meet the Duke’s horse-drawn carriage.
His racing hat, whip and gloves were laid out on his empty seat, along with the red sugar lump pot from which he used to give his ponies rewards after a drive. The servicemen in charge of the special vehicle spent the past week rehearsing so that they would drive at the right speed, allowing senior royals to follow on foot.
During the procession of the Land Rover to St. George’s Chapel, the Queen was supported by lady-in-waiting Lady Susan Hussey, who was permitted to join the monarch in the State Bentley as she is within the royal household coronavirus bubble. Under plans for the funeral devised in great detail by Prince Philip, it was originally intended that the Land Rover would transport his coffin 22 miles from Wellington Arch in central London to Windsor, but the pandemic restrictions resulted in modifications to those plans.
Buckingham Palace, however, said that the overall ceremony remained true to the spirit of the late royal’s own wishes of a lower-key funeral as opposed to a grand state funeral. The Union flags atop royal palaces and government buildings have been raised back up following the funeral and from Monday, the royal family will resume royal duties but will continue to wear black clothing and mourning bands for some time.