Queen Elizabeth starts lone reign as Prince Philip laid to rest

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Sitting by herself at the funeral of Prince Philip on Saturday, Queen Elizabeth cut a regal but solitary figure: still the monarch, but now alone.

The queen sat apart from family members at the simple but somber ceremony at Windsor Castle, in accordance with strict social distancing rules during the coronavirus pandemic. But if the ceremony had been for anyone else, at her side would have been her husband of 73 years, who gave a lifetime of service to the crown.

Wearing a face mask, the queen was dressed all in black, except for the diamond brooch that flashed on her left shoulder — a piece she had often worn on engagements with her husband.

The monarch’s four children — Prince Charles, Princess Anne, Prince Andrew and Prince Edward — sat nearby, as did the queen and Philip’s eight grandchildren. The stripped-back service made their loss somehow more personal for people who often live their lives in public.

Just 30 mourners were allowed to attend the service for the prince, who died April 9 at the age of 99. The entire royal procession and funeral took place out of public view within the grounds of the castle, a 950-year-old royal residence 20 miles (30 kilometers) west of London, but was shown live on television.

Hundreds of people lined the streets outside the castle to pay their respects to the prince. Some held Union flags and clutched flowers, while others wore custom face masks featuring the royal’s photo.

“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,” the dean of Windsor, David Conner, said in his call to prayer.

The nation honored Philip with a minute’s silence observed across the United Kingdom at 3 p.m., its beginning and end marked by a gun fired by the King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery. The final shot signaled the start of a funeral service steeped in military and royal tradition, but infused with the duke’s personality.

Philip’s body was carried to St. George’s Chapel at the castle on a Land Rover that the prince himself had specially designed. It was followed by members of the Royal Family, including Princes William and Harry, who made their first public appearance together since Harry and his wife, Meghan, gave a controversial interview to U.S. television host Oprah Winfrey in which they discussed the difficulties of royal life and how the two brothers had grown apart.

The procession traversed the grounds of Windsor Castle, passing military detachments arrayed under bright blue skies.

Inside the medieval Gothic chapel, the setting for centuries of royal weddings and funerals, this service was quiet and without excessive pageantry. Philip was deeply involved in planning the ceremony. At his request, there was no sermon. There were also no eulogies or readings, in keeping with royal tradition.

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