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Prince Philip’s funeral felt like an intimate family occasion

Written by on 18 April 2021

Emotional, often poignant, and stirring at times, thanks to the music he had chosen himself, the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral was a true reflection of a life well-lived, a life of service and a fitting goodbye to an unforgettable, much-loved character.

As “I Vow To Thee My Country” was played by the military musicians, marking the arrival of the Land Rover hearse that Prince Philip helped design, the soldiers, sailors and airmen bowed their heads.

It was a beautiful start to the procession the prince had done so much to shape.

Alongside the formality of the military uniforms, another heart-warming personal touch – his cap and blanket, placed on the seat of his carriage, with a pot of sugar lumps for his horses.

The Queen caught alone in St George's Chapel Image: The Queen sat alone during the funeral due to COVID restrictions The Duke of Edinburgh is being laid to rest at St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle Image: The duke’s cap and blanket was placed on the seat of his carriage

Carriage-driving one of his greatest pleasures well into his 90s. As the music faded, there was silence – just the crunch of the gravel under the feet of the bearer party as the coffin was carried outside St George’s Chapel.

The Prince of Wales was visibly moved as he led the family behind his father, alongside the Princess Royal. Then the Queen emerged to join the procession.

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Prince Charles follows the coffin as it makes it's way past the Round Tower. Pic: AP Image: Prince Charles follows his father’s coffin. Pic: AP

It was the first time we have seen her since her husband died.

The national anthem played as she was driven to follow the man who always said his role, first and last, was to serve her.

As the family settled inside the chapel, the cameras may have been on them, but this felt like an intimate family occasion.

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Prince Philip laid to rest

At no other time would they have been able to say goodbye like this.

COVID-19 restrictions had kept out the hundreds of dignitaries that would usually attend the funeral of a man of his position.

Instead the Queen, her children and grandchildren, and members of Philip’s family, were allowed to reflect and grieve on their own.

Sitting in socially-distanced bubbles with their own households, it was striking to see the Queen sat alone.

Britain's Queen Elizabeth II takes her seat for the funeral of Britain's Prince Philip, who died at the age of 99, at St George's Chapel, in Windsor, Britain, April 17, 2021. Victoria Jones/Pool via REUTERS Image: It was a striking image to see the Queen sat alone, says Rhiannon Mills

In the same seat where she has seen her grandchildren get married in recent years, the space alongside her, where her husband had once been, was now empty.

At times the Queen looked around to check on her family. Face masks gave a veil of added privacy which they wouldn’t have had were it not for the pandemic.

Her Majesty wrote after the September 11 attacks that “grief is the price we pay for love”.

We can’t dare to claim that we know how she felt as she looked at Philip’s coffin being slowly lowered into the royal vault – a lifetime of service done.

At times her head simply bowed as prayers were read, there were no visible signs of emotion.

Displaying her distinctive strength and stoicism. It was important to mark his death and celebrate his life publicly.

Privately her family has already promised to rally around her, supporting the monarch – now a widow, their mother and granny.

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