Prince Philip put Land Rover hearse he designed himself at heart of funeral

Victoria Ward
·9 min read
Rosa Wlodarczyk adjusts a photograph of the Duke displayed alongside the nave at Westminster Abbey, which has been dressed in black to mark his death
Rosa Wlodarczyk adjusts a photograph of the Duke displayed alongside the nave at Westminster Abbey, which has been dressed in black to mark his death

The Duke of Edinburgh’s coffin will be carried through the grounds of Windsor Castle in a modified Land Rover that he designed for the occasion himself.

The funeral will take place next Saturday at 3pm, following a short procession in which the Prince of Wales and senior members of the Royal family will follow the coffin on foot as it is driven to St George’s Chapel.

The Queen will not take part in the procession.

It will be a royal funeral like no other, with Royals adhering to Covid-19 guidelines by wearing masks throughout the ceremony and maintaining social distancing.

A Buckingham Palace spokesperson confirmed that it would not be a state occasion, in accordance with the Duke’s wishes, but a ceremonial royal funeral in line with the Queen Mother’s funeral in 2002.

Her Majesty gave final approval to the plans, which “very much reflect the personal wishes of the Duke" who died peacefully at home in Windsor Castle on Friday morning.

However, the event has been significantly reduced in scale in order to comply with strict coronavirus guidelines and as such, there will be no public procession and there will be no public access.

Only 30 mourners, expected to include the Queen, the Duke's children, grandchildren and his private secretary, will attend.

The funeral will take place entirely within the grounds of Windsor Castle. It comes after the palace discouraged wellwishers from gathering outside royal residences to lay flowers.

A palace spokesperson said: “The occasion will still celebrate and recognise the Duke’s life and his more than 70 years of service to the Queen, the UK and the Commonwealth.”

The Duke currently lies at rest in the private chapel of Windsor Castle.

Next Saturday, the coffin will be moved in a small ceremonial procession from the state entrance to St George’s Chapel for the service, which will begin with a national minute’s silence.

Read more: Duke of Edinburgh's funeral ceremony to pay tribute to his military service

2.40pm

The coffin will emerge from the State Entrance for all those in the procession and in the Quadrangle to pay compliments.

A Bearer Party, drawn from the Duke’s special relationships with the Royal Marines, Regiments, Corps and Air Stations will then place the Duke’s coffin in a specially-adapted Land Rover hearse and withdraw.

Queen Elizabeth II and The Duke of Edinburgh in a Royal Land Rover special vehicle in 1959 
Queen Elizabeth II and The Duke of Edinburgh in a Royal Land Rover special vehicle in 1959

2.45pm

Led by the Band of the Grenadier Guards, of which the Duke of Edinburgh was Colonel for 42 years, the procession will set off from the State Entrance, followed by the Major General’s Party, and a small group of Service Chiefs representing all branches of the armed forces, reflecting the Duke’s close relationship with all areas of defence.

Members of the Royal family – excluding the Queen – will then follow on foot behind the Duke’s coffin, being driven slowly in the Land Rover and flanked by the Bearer Party.

Members of the Duke’s household including his private secretary Brigadier Archie Miller-Bakewell, his royal protection officer, two pages and two valets will bring up the rear of the procession.

Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip joined at Clarence House by their immediate family, the Prince of Wales (L), Princess Anne (above C), the Duke of York (TopL) and The Earl of Wessex (TopR)  - Tim Graham /Getty
Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip joined at Clarence House by their immediate family, the Prince of Wales (L), Princess Anne (above C), the Duke of York (TopL) and The Earl of Wessex (TopR) - Tim Graham /Getty

The procession will pass through Engine Court, Chapel Hill, the Parade Ground and Horseshoe Cloister.

Representatives from the Royal Navy, the Royal Marines, the Highlanders, the 4th Battalion Royal Regiment of Scotland, the Royal Air Force, Ceremonial Bodyguards and the Military Knights of Windsor will line the route while the Windsor Castle Guard will be turned out on the Parade Ground.

Positioned on the grass in the Quadrangle will be representative detachments drawn from the Duke’s military special relationships – including the Royal Gurkha Rifles, the Queen’s Royal Hussars and Cadet Forces while the Quadrangle will also be lined by the Household Cavalry and The Foot Guards.

Minute Guns will be fired by the King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery from the East Lawn for the duration of the procession, while the Curfew Tower Bell, located at the western end of Windsor Castle in the belfry of the College of St George, will also toll.

2.53pm

The procession will arrive at the West Steps.

A Guard of Honour and Band from the Rifles will receive the coffin with the National Anthem as it enters Horseshoe Cloister and ending as the Land Rover draws to a halt at St George’s Chapel. Positioned in the Horseshoe Cloister will be the Commonwealth Defence Advisers from Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Trinidad and Tobago.

The West Steps will be lined by a Dismounted Detachment of the Household Cavalry, while a Royal Naval Piping Party of 1 Chief Petty Officer and 5 Ratings will be positioned on the South Side.

Prince Philip's funeral guest list
Prince Philip's funeral guest list

Once the Land Rover is stationary at the foot of the West Steps, the Piping Party will then pipe the “Still” – a boatswain's call traditionally used on naval ships to pass commands to the crew.

Another Bearer Party, this time founded by the Royal Marines, will lift the coffin and proceed up the West Steps halting on the second landing.

The Piping Party will then pipe the “Side”, another traditional ceremonial call made on a boatswain's pipe when distinguished visitors arrive on board a Royal Navy warship.

3pm

The coffin will pause for a national minute’s silence.

At the top of the West Steps, the Dean of Windsor, together with the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Reverend Justin Welby, will receive the coffin.

All those who have taken part in the procession will not enter St George’s Chapel except for members of the Royal Family, and the Duke’s private secretary in accordance with government guidance limiting funeral congregations to 30. A senior palace official confirmed that under the rules, the clergy are excluded.

As the doors to St. George’s Chapel close, the Royal Navy Piping Party will pipe the “Carry On”, the traditional boatswain call used after the Still, to dismiss the crew back to their duties.

The three piped calls will give the coffin's entrance a distinctly nautical feel, in line with the wishes of the former Honorary Admiral of the Fleet, who was mentioned in despatches during the Second World War.

It was the Duke’s “great interest in design” which inspired him to help design the modified Land Rover that he wanted to carry his coffin. A second, support vehicle will also be on site.

A senior palace official said: “The Duke of Edinburgh had a hand, many, many years ago, in the design of these vehicles.”

As ranger of Windsor Great Park, the Duke could often be seen driving through the grounds in a Land Rover. In Jan 2019, he had a lucky escape after overturning one near his Sandringham estate, from which he managed to walk away unscathed but shocked and shaken. He gave up driving shortly afterwards.

The Duke’s coffin will be covered by his personal standard, together with a wreath of flowers, and his naval cap and sword.

His insignia, the medals and decorations conferred on him by the UK and Commonwealth countries, together with his Field Marshal's baton and Royal Air Force Wings and insignia from Denmark and Greece will be placed on cushions on the altar in the chapel.

Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten resumes his attendance at the Royal Naval Officers' School at Kingsmoor in Hawthorn, Wiltshire.  - Hulton Royals Collection 
Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten resumes his attendance at the Royal Naval Officers' School at Kingsmoor in Hawthorn, Wiltshire. - Hulton Royals Collection

The Land Rover was “very much part of the original plans” approved by the Duke. Pre-pandemic, his coffin would likely have made the 23-mile journey from Wellington Arch, near Hyde Park Corner, to Windsor, in the vehicle.

As well as paying tribute to more than 70 years of service to the Queen, the UK and Commonwealth, the ceremony will celebrate his Duke’s incredible achievements.

A palace spokesperson said: “While this is naturally a time of sadness and mourning for the Royal family, and the many others who knew or admired the Duke of Edinburgh, it is hoped that the coming days will also be seen as an opportunity to celebrate a remarkable life, remarkable both in terms of his vast contribution and lasting legacy.”

They added: “Many of you have already pointed to the Queen's own description of His Royal Highness as her ‘strength and stay’.

“If you consider that in his lifetime, he was a decorated veteran of World War Two, of his love and passion for the skills of science, engineering design and art. His dedication to the military, his support for the Commonwealth, his promotion of the Outward Bound Trust, the World Wildlife Fund, and the Duke of Edinburgh Award. You can see why his influence is so much greater than many may imagine the role of the consort to be.

“The Covid-19 pandemic has of course required us to make significant adaptations to the original arrangements for his Royal Highness’s funeral.

“However, we are certain that the occasion will be no less fitting a farewell to his Royal Highness, marking his significant duty and service to the nation, and the Commonwealth.”

After the funeral, the Duke will be interred in the Royal family vault beneath St George’s Chapel.

The Royal family asked the public not to travel to Windsor, or any other palaces, in order to pay their respects.

The ceremony will be televised to enable as many people as possible “to be part of the occasion, to mourn with us and celebrate a truly extraordinary life,” the palace spokesperson said.

The Queen has approved the Prime Minister’s recommendation that there be a period of national mourning beginning on Friday, until Saturday April 17, the day of the funeral.

Prince Philip's remarkable life - Read more
Prince Philip's remarkable life - Read more

A senior palace official said that it was also Her Majesty’s wish that the Royal family observe two weeks of Royal mourning starting on Friday.

This will be observed by members of the Royal family and their households, together with troops committed to ceremonial duties.

During this period, he said members of the Royal family would “continue undertaking engagements appropriate to the circumstances” and that mourning bands would be worn where appropriate.