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Prince Philip’s ‘unwavering loyalty’ to the Queen to be praised in funeral service

16 April 2021

he Duke of Edinburgh’s “unwavering loyalty” to the Queen and his love of the sea will take centre stage at his funeral service.

The ceremonial service will be short - with no sermon - in keeping with Philip’s wishes.

The Duke’s love of the sea and long association with the Royal Navy will be referenced in music chosen by him for the service.

The hymn “Eternal Father, Strong to Save” – traditionally associated with seafarers and the maritime armed services - will be sung.

The Union Jack was seen flying at half mast outside Buckingham Palace on Friday


Written in 1860 by William Whiting, it was inspired by the dangers of the sea described in Psalm 107.

It was also sung at the funeral of Philip’s beloved uncle, Earl Mountbatten of Burma, who was murdered by the IRA in 1979.

The Dean of Windsor, in the Bidding, will also pay tribute to Philip’s “kindness, humour and humanity.”

“With grateful hearts, we remember the many ways in which his long life has been a blessing to us,” he will say of Philip, who died aged 99 last Friday.

“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.

“Our lives have been enriched through the challenges that he has set us, the encouragement that he has given us, his kindness, humour and humanity.”

No members of the royal family will read lessons or give readings at the ceremony and there is no eulogy.

William and Harry, pictured here with Philip, will not walk side by side in the funeral procession

/ PA

This is in keeping with the Queen Mother’s funeral in 2002 when the delivery of readings was left to the clergy, and there was no eulogy then either.

It is not common for eulogies to take place at royal funerals or for family members to do readings.

A sermon at the Queen Mother’s service was carried out by the Archbishop of Canterbury.

The lack of sermon for the duke perhaps fits in with his desire to get things done in a speedy, efficient manner.

His grandson the Duke of Sussex said as he paid tribute earlier in the week: “I know that right now he would say to all of us, beer in hand, ‘Oh do get on with it!’”

As final preparations were put in place at Windsor ahead of the proceedings which begin at 3pm with a national minute’s silence, the Earl and Countess of Wessex and their teenage daughter Lady Louise Windsor gathered to view flowers left by the public and national leaders outside the chapel.

The family appeared touched, with Sophie, while looking over handwritten letters from children, saying “how sweet”.

The Earl of Wessex and Lady Louise Windsor survey flowers outside St George's Chapel, at Windsor Castle

/ Getty Images

Among the tributes were wreaths bearing messages from Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and the Royal Navy.

Mr Johnson’s words on behalf of the nation read: “In grateful memory of a man to whom the nation owes more than words can say.”

He will watch the service on television and observe the minute’s silence from his country residence Chequers, in Buckinghamshire.

The PM is not attending to allow for as many royal family members as possible to join the congregation – limited to just 30 under Covid-19 rules.

Meanwhile, the duke’s love of carriage-driving will be a poignant feature on the day, with his carriage, which he designed himself, and ponies making an appearance.

The Duke of Edinburgh’s love of carriage driving will be a feature on the day

/ PA

The polished dark green four-wheeled carriage, accompanied by two of Philip’s grooms, will stand in the Quadrangle of the castle as the duke’s coffin is carried past in a procession on a Land Rover hearse.

It was Philip’s most recent carriage, which he began using at the age of 91 for riding around Windsor and other royal estates, having had it built eight years ago.

With the carriage will be the duke’s two black Fell ponies – Balmoral Nevis and Notlaw Storm.

The duke’s final send-off will be a royal funeral like no other, with coronavirus restrictions meaning the Queen must sit alone and socially distanced, with all guests wearing face masks and sitting two metres apart from those not in their household.

The songs will be performed by a choir of just three choristers and one soprano, with the congregation forbidden from singing.

Among those attending will be the Prince of Wales and his wife the Duchess of Cornwall, the Queen and Philip’s other children, their grandchildren including the Duke of Cambridge and Harry, three of Philip’s German relatives, three of the Queen’s cousins and Philip’s carriage driving companion Countess Mountbatten of Burma.

William and Harry, whose troubled relationship has been well documented, will not walk side by side in the funeral procession.

They will be separated by their cousin Peter Phillips as they walk in a line behind their grandfather’s coffin.

Heathrow Airport said no planes will land or take off for six minutes to coincide with the minute’s silence.

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