Prince Philip remembered: 'We have been inspired by his courage, fortitude and faith'

Victoria Ward
·6 min read
Prince Philip and the Queen in a 2003 picture taken at Balmoral picture and released by Buckingham Palace on Friday - The Countess of Wessex/PA
Prince Philip and the Queen in a 2003 picture taken at Balmoral picture and released by Buckingham Palace on Friday - The Countess of Wessex/PA

The Duke of Edinburgh will on Saturday be remembered for his "kindness, humour and humanity" and his "unwavering loyalty" to the Queen.

There will be no eulogy or sermon at the afternoon funeral service at St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle, and no members of the Royal family will give readings.

Instead, the deeply religious ceremony will reflect the Duke's desire to avoid unnecessary fuss, and will focus on Royal Navy tradition and his love of the sea.

In keeping with Covid guidelines and tradition for a ceremonial royal funeral, the 50-minute service will be conducted solely by the Dean of Windsor and the Archbishop of Canterbury.

The Queen, 94 – who will sit alone in the Quire, two metres from any family members and wearing a face mask – will take no active part in the ceremony.

To mark the occasion, however, Buckingham Palace on Friday released a previously unseen photograph, chosen by the Queen, depicting her and the Duke at the top of the Coyles of Muick on the Balmoral estate in 2003.

The picture, which shows the pair relaxed and off duty, enjoying the scenery in one of their favourite beauty spots, was taken by the Countess of Wessex. Last month, it emerged that the Queen had named one of her two new corgis Muick in honour of the hills.

The Dean of Windsor will open Saturday's service with the Bidding, in which he will pay tribute to the Duke's many decades of public service. "With grateful hearts, we remember the many ways in which his long life has been a blessing to us," he will say.

"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."

Standing before the group of 30 mourners, he will describe how their lives have been "enriched" through Prince Philip's challenges and encouragement, and "his kindness, humour and humanity". Later in the service, during the prayers, the Dean will also say that the Duke has "left us a fair pattern of valiant and true knighthood".

The Archbishop of Canterbury will also lead the congregation in prayer and praise the Duke's "resolute faith and loyalty", "his high sense of duty and integrity" and "the courage and inspiration of his leadership".

Ahead of the service, members of the Royal Family will gather in the State Entrance Hall of Windsor Castle before the Duke of Edinburgh's coffin emerges. It is likely to be the first time that the Duke of Cambridge and the Duke of Sussex have seen each other in over a year.

Buckingham Palace refused to comment on whether there will be a wake after the service, but has insisted all relevant Covid guidelines will be followed. The rules restrict commemorative events to a maximum of 15 people, suggesting mourners could separate into two groups.

Despite officially being in a two-week period of mourning, the Queen carried out a further two royal engagements on Friday, speaking by telephone to both David Hurley, the governor-general of Australia, and Justin Trudeau, the Canadian prime minister.

Mr Trudeau's office said: "The prime minister noted the special relationship the Duke of Edinburgh maintained with Canada over the years, including through more than 60 visits and close ties with the Canadian armed forces, and conveyed to Her Majesty that the thoughts of Canadians are with her and all members of the royal family in this time of grief."

The Prince of Wales held a telephone meeting with Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister.

Every moment of the Duke's funeral has been meticulously planned and rehearsed, with nothing left to chance. From the moment his coffin emerges from Windsor Castle until the moment, almost five hours later, when it is lowered slowly into the Royal Vault beneath the altar at St George's Chapel, the day has been designed to reflect his proud military heritage and achievements.

Two pieces of music included in the service, The Jubilate by Benjamin Britten and Psalm 104, were written at the Duke's personal request.

The ceremony, which will begin at 3pm following a short procession within the grounds of Windsor Castle, will have a strong nautical theme, reflecting his lifelong association with the Royal Navy.

The first lesson, taken from Ecclesiasticus, says: "Those who sail the sea tell stories of its dangers, which astonish all who hear them; in it are strange and wonderful creatures, all kinds of living things and huge sea monsters."

The hymn Eternal Father, Strong to Save, will be sung by the choir. It is traditionally associated with seafarers and the maritime armed services and is inspired by the dangers of the sea described in Psalm 107.

Action Stations, the naval call, will be sounded by buglers towards the end of the service before the Archbishop of Canterbury pronounces the blessing.

In a nod to his forebears, the Duke has also included a traditional Russian Orthodox anthem. Baptised in the Greek Orthodox Church, the young Prince Philip became an Anglican when he married Princess Elizabeth, who as Queen is head of the Church of England.

His mother, Princess Alice of Battenberg, who became an Orthodox nun, is buried below a Russian Orthodox church on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem, while his great-aunt Elizabeth, known in the family as Ella, was murdered along with the Russian tsar by the Bolsheviks at Ekaterinberg.

The Duke's coffin, covered with his personal standard, his naval cap, sword and a wreath of flowers, will be moved from the Private Chapel to the Inner Hall at Windsor Castle at 11am.

At 2.20pm, members of the Royal family, the Duke's family and his close friend Lady Mountbatten of Burma, who are not taking part in the procession behind the coffin, will depart by car for the short drive to St George's Chapel.

Some 21 minutes later, the Duke's coffin will be carried out of the State Entrance and lifted onto a custom-made Land Rover where it will begin its slow journey to the chapel, followed on foot by nine members of the Royal family including all four of his children, the Duke of Cambridge and the Duke of Sussex, separated by their cousin Peter Phillips. The Queen, driven in the state Bentley, will follow, accompanied by a lady-in-waiting.

At 3pm, there will be a minute's silence before the coffin is carried through the Nave to the catafalque in the Quire, followed by those who took part in the procession. Ceremonial gunfire will sound at nine locations across the UK to mark the beginning and the end of the silence.

British Armed Forces stationed around the world will pay tribute to the Duke by lowering flags to half mast and holding a minute's silence, small church services and taking part in a sunset salute.

Mr Johnson will watch the televised funeral at Chequers, his grace and favour house at the foot of the Chiltern Hills in Buckinghamshire.

A wreath was laid at the chapel on behalf of the Prime minister on Friday, paying tribute to the Duke. The message read: "In grateful memory of a man to whom the nation owes more than words can say. Sent on behalf of the nation. From the Prime Minister."

The Royal Navy's tribute read: "In gratitude for an exceptional life of service from all ranks of the Royal Navy. Fair winds and following seas."