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Military bands and regiments lined up in the quadrangle in front of Windsor Castle saluted as Prince Philip’s coffin was placed on the specially adapted Land Rover for the short drive to St. George’s Chapel. (Screenshot from CBC News by Shirley Nadeau)

Shirley Nadeau

Local Journalism Initiative reporter

Millions of people around the world watched the funeral of Prince Philip held in St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle in England on April 17.

Due to the pandemic, only 30 members of the prince’s immediate family attended the service in the chapel. Members of the public were asked not to congregate in Windsor, but to stay home and watch the service on television.

Prince Philip planned his funeral himself, down to the finest details, from the design of the Land Rover that transported his coffin the short distance from the residence of the Royal Family to the chapel within the castle grounds, to the selection of the music played by the regimental bands in the quadrangle in front of Windsor Castle and sung by a quartet inside the chapel.

Queen Elizabeth and most family members were driven to the chapel in limousines, but eight members of the Royal Family, including Prince Charles walked behind the Land Rover carrying Prince Philip’s coffin from the castle to the chapel.

Members of the Royal Family – Prince Charles, Princess Anne, Prince Andrew, Prince Edward, Prince William, Peter Phillips (son of Princess Anne), Prince Harry and David Armstrong-Jones (son of the late Princess Margaret) – walked behind the Land Rover carrying Prince Philip’s coffin from the castle to the chapel. (Screenshot from CBC News by Shirley Nadeau)

The cavalcade of cars followed a magnificent team of black horses pulling a carriage with Prince Philip’s hat and gloves displayed on the seat beside the driver. There was also a small container of the sugar cubes he always gave the horses as treats.

A military guard of honour lined the stairs leading to the main entrance of St. George’s Chapel. Buglers of the Royal Marines played “Action Stations” and sailors piped “Still” after which a minute of silence was held. The only sound that could be heard was the soft chirping of birds in the nearby trees.

The coffin was carried up the stairs and into the sanctuary on the shoulders of eight members of the Royal Marines as a quartet sang “Eternal Father, Strong to Save,” commonly known as the Royal Navy hymn. Written by William Whiting in 1860, it is inspired by the dangers of the sea described in Psalm 107.

Members of the Royal Family were seated in the choir section of St. George’s Chapel. Prince Philip’s flag-draped coffin is placed before the altar. (Screenshot from CBC News by Shirley Nadeau)

The members of the Royal Family were seated in the choir section of the chapel during the service, in physically distanced family groups or on their own.

The service proceeded solemnly with scripture readings from Ecclesiastes 43:11-26 and John 11:25. Psalm 104 was sung by the choristers in the side chapel. There were no sermons and no eulogies, as per the prince’s request for a “no-fuss” funeral. It was a classic, Anglican funeral, which focused on the spiritual and the afterlife, not the life of the deceased.

After the Dean of Windsor gave the final commendation, the Garter Principal King of Arms read a long list of Prince Philip’s styles and titles, and the flag-draped coffin was very slowly lowered through the chapel floor into the Royal Vault below. A pipe major of the Royal Regiment of Scotland played “The Lament” in a side chapel, after which buglers of the Royal Marines played “The Last Post” and state trumpeters of the Household Cavalry responded with “The Reveille.”

As one television reporter said, “This funeral was poignant beyond mourning the loss of Prince Philip. It recalls the loss of many others during COVID. A collective funeral like this is also some comfort to them.” It was noted that the Queen would turn 95 on April 21, but that she would be in a period of mourning for 30 days after the death of her husband of almost 74 years.

The service reflected the life of Prince Philip and was beautiful in its simplicity and elegance encompassing pomp and circumstance. The people of a nation and all the Commonwealth countries grieved for the prince.

In Quebec City, members of the Quebec City Guild of Change Ringers rang 99 half-muffled blows from the belltower of the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity, for the 99 years of Prince Philip’s life on the day of his funeral.

This article appeared in the April 21, 2021 edition of the Quebec Chronicle-Telegraph.

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