Prince Philip funeral: Grenadier whose grandfather served at George VI's funeral to lead Bearer Party

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Patrick Sawer
·5 min read
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The coffin of King George VI lies on a gun carriage drawn by naval officers, and accompanied by men of the Household Cavalry on February 15, 1952 - Derek Berwin/Hulton Royals Collection
The coffin of King George VI lies on a gun carriage drawn by naval officers, and accompanied by men of the Household Cavalry on February 15, 1952 - Derek Berwin/Hulton Royals Collection

A Grenadier Guard whose grandfather served at both the funeral of George VI and the Queen's coronation is to lead the Bearer Party tasked with carrying Prince Philip's coffin.

Lt Alec Heywood will command the Bearer Party from The Queen’s Company, 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards, which will move the coffin from the Private Chapel of Windsor Castle before the start of the procession.

A third-generation Grenadier Guard, Lt Heywood’s family has a proud history of service to the Royals.

His grandfather was Captain of The Queen’s Company, Grenadier Guards, at King George VI’s funeral in 1952 and at the Queen’s coronation the following year.

After Prince Philip’s funeral procession – led by the Band of the Grenadier Guards – a second Bearer Party, formed of Royal Marines, will carry the coffin into St George’s Chapel for the service.

St George's Chapel pictured during the Order of the Garter Service in 2019 - Ben Stansall/PA Wire
St George's Chapel pictured during the Order of the Garter Service in 2019 - Ben Stansall/PA Wire

The two regiments have been chosen to provide the Bearer Parties in recognition of their long association with the Duke, who was Colonel of the Grenadier Guards from 1975 to 2018 and Captain General Royal Marines from 1953 to 2017.

The Ministry of Defence said it was unable to name the other members of the Bearer Parties “as they are handling the coffin and therefore would prefer privacy during this time”.

There is a very real sense that the members of the armed forces who will accompany the Duke’s coffin on his final journey are returning a profound favour.

Borne on the Land Rover (below) specially designed by the Prince, the coffin will be flanked during the procession to the steps of St George’s Chapel by Pall Bearers drawn from regiments, corps, air stations and units with a special relationship to the Duke.

The Land Rover Defender Hearse that will carry Prince Phillip The Duke Of Edinburgh To St Georges Chapel - ©Kelvin Bruce
The Land Rover Defender Hearse that will carry Prince Phillip The Duke Of Edinburgh To St Georges Chapel - ©Kelvin Bruce

They will be among more than 730 members of the Armed Forces taking part in the funeral ceremony at Windsor Castle, including 42 from the Royal Navy, with which Prince Philip served between 1939 and 1951; 96 from the Royal Marines; 507 from the Army and 89 from the Royal Air Force.

In a reflection of his long association with the military, the Duke’s insignia, including medals and decorations conferred on him by the UK and Commonwealth countries, his British Army Field Marshal’s baton and his Royal Air Force wings will be positioned on cushions on the altar in St George’s Chapel.

The coffin will be draped by the Duke’s personal standard and carry a wreath of flowers, his naval cap and sword.

Prince Philip's funeral procession: Military positions
Prince Philip's funeral procession: Military positions

Among them will be Commandant General Royal Marines Major General Matthew Holmes, who recalled how generous Prince Philip was with his time whenever he visited the regiment.

He said that once the Prince flew from London to Exeter to welcome members of the regiment returning from Afghanistan, spending an hour on the ground talking to troops when they landed.

“He hated fuss, so we would host him and he would go straight amongst the marines and talk to our valiant warriors,” said Major General Holmes. “He was always generous with his time.”

Major General Holmes told Times Radio: “We were utterly privileged and honoured to enjoy his company on numerous occasions. We had numerous encounters, and I think that was the beauty of his service with us.”

Duke of Edinburgh funeral – Processional route
Duke of Edinburgh funeral – Processional route

Also among the Pall Bearers will be Master General of the Corps of Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers Lieutenant General Paul Jaques

Lieutenant General Jaques said about the Duke, who was his unit’s former colonel-in-chief: “He was engaged with us and used to visit us probably once or twice every single year since 1969.

“And he had an enormous passion for all things engineering. In his own words ‘If it wasn’t invented by God, it was invented by an engineer’.”

The other pall bearers will be Colonel of The Queen’s Royal Hussars Brigadier Ian Mortimer; Regimental Lieutenant Colonel of the Grenadier Guards Lieutenant General Roland Walker; Deputy Colonel of The Royal Regiment of Scotland Brigadier James Roddis; Deputy Colonel Commandant of The Rifles Major General Rupert Jones; Colonel Commandant of the Intelligence Corps Lieutenant General Sir James Hockenhull and Station Commander RAF Northolt Group Captain Nick Worrall.

Prince Philip the man - Read more
Prince Philip the man - Read more

When the procession arrives at the West Steps of St George’s Chapel, the Pall Bearers will take their positions on the steps.

The Royal Marines Bearer Party will lift the coffin and proceed up the West Steps, halting on the second landing, as a Piping Party pipes the “Side” and the coffin pauses for the National Minute Silence at 3pm.

As the coffin enters the chapel and the doors to St George’s Chapel close, the Royal Navy Piping Party will pipe the “Carry On”, before the Pall Bearers and other members of the Armed Forces who took part in the funeral procession disperse silently.

The King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery will fire minute guns during the funeral procession from the East Lawn of Windsor Castle – with eight expected in total at one round every minute. The King’s Troop also fired the Death Gun Salute of 41 rounds at Woolwich Barracks the day after the Duke’s death.

The Royal Regiment of Scotland, known as the Highlanders, will perform a key role in the proceedings at Windsor Castle, with Pipe Major Colour Sergeant Grant, 33, playing a farewell lament as the coffin enters St. George's Chapel.

Colour Sergeant Grant, of Braemar, Aberdeenshire, said: “I will be thinking of HM The Queen during this difficult time for her. I am looking forward to being involved because it is such an honour for me to perform this role”.

“I know that my village will be feeling proud that a local lad who played at the Highland Gathering is playing at his funeral”.