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Short COVID-distanced funeral for Prince Philip

April 17, 2021 at St George's Chapel at Windsor Castle.

Saturday April 17, 2021 | INTERNATIONAL

by Mary P Brooke, Editor | Island Social Trends

Many people in the last week seem to have learned more about the life and accomplishments of His Royal Highness Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh — after his passing — than they knew during this long and active life.

On April 9 he died just two months short of his 100th birthday, peacefully at home at Windsor Castle, following an earlier stay in hospital said to be about a known heart condition.

Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh
HRH Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, wearing his military dress uniform, circa 1990. (Photo by Terry O’Neill/Iconic Images/Getty Images)

The funeral that he planned in detail over several years was held today April 17 at St George’s Chapel within Windsor Castle. The event began at 12 noon local time (7 am Pacific Time). Many people across Canada got up early to watch the funeral on television. There was also a Canadian ceremony afterward, televised from Christ Church Cathedral in Ottawa.

For reasons of physical distancing, there was pooled TV camera livestream and other media were positioned at various locations outside and along the way from Windsor Castle.

Married to Queen Elizabeth II for 73 years, Prince Philip was her consort and for all those years had to walk two steps behind her in public. Such is the rigor of being part of the British Royal Family.

Queen Elizabeth, funeral
Queen Elizabeth II alone in the church pew during the funeral of her husband Prince Philip, on April 17, 2021.

Most people learning about Prince Philip’s interests and the stories behind his apparently ‘candid’ remarks have discovered a man who indeed devoted his life to one of service — first and foremost to the Queen as his wife and also as the Monarch, as well as to country and family.

It is well known by those who follow the British Monarchy that the Queen divided the roles … she wore the crown and he ran the family. He attitude of putting feelings aside and ‘just getting on with it’ was hard on his eldest son Prince Charles (and direct heir to the throne) as a child and probably other more sensitive types around him. But for his followers in military life this was upheld with admiration.

Prince Charles, father's funeral
Prince Charles — heir to the British Throne — walked behind his father Prince Philip’s coffin at the funeral on April 17, 2021.

Prince Philip long held views — and took action — on protecting the environment. He founded the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and in BC “will be especially remembered for the important work he did in helping to establish the Khutzeymateen Provincial Park as a sanctuary for grizzly bears,” said BC Premier John Horgan in a statement last week.

“His legacy will also live on through The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, which he founded. This prestigious and inspirational achievement program has made a direct and real difference to thousands of young people in our province, and will continue to develop leaders of tomorrow,” said BC’s Premier.

The funeral was 50 minutes long and straightforward in nature, as Prince Philip wished. Due to COVID-19 public health restrictions only 30 people were allowed in the church (with everyone wearing masks by public health protocol), which ultimately meant that only family attended. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson reportedly forfeited his seat so another family member could attend.

It seemed so unusually solitary and unprotected for Queen Elizabeth II to be sitting entirely alone in the church. Not even her lady-in-waiting (who travelled with her in a state vehicle to the church) sat with her during the ceremony. Mostly hunched over — eyes hidden from the television cameras — the Queen sat poised through the singing of hymns and words from the religious leader.

land rover
The coffin carrying the body of Prince Philip was carried in a Land Rover that he custom designed himself.

There were no eulogies by family members (at Prince Philip’s request). This seems to be yet another way this week of Prince Philip’s actions in his life (and at this funeral through his own planning) to speak for themselves.

At the end the bugle ‘call to action’ was his way of saying to all, to ‘get on with it’.

Certainly this day will be remembered by millions who watched on TV and who were thinking of the Prince today, a man who served wife and monarch, family and country, without apparently flinching. Over the years he worked out his own way of coping with a life that included the disappointment of not having the military career that he is said to have hoped for.

He designed the military-green Land Rover himself, the one that carried his coffin today. Sons Prince Charles (first in line to the throne), Andrew and Edward, and daughter Princess Anne, walked behind the casket at is moved slowly to the church, as did grandsons Prince William (second in line to the throne) and Prince Harry (who now resides in the USA but came back to the UK for the funeral). The great grandchildren (including Prince George who is third in line to the throne) did not attend the events of the day.

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