Yesterday, the British Royal Family and the rest of the world said goodbye to His Royal Highness Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. This was done via a royal ceremonial funeral held in St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle. If you didn’t watch it live, you can watch the funeral of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, via the Royal Family Youtube channel here:
Here are some thoughts on the service.
The Queen was the picture of duty, dignity, and love
At 94 years old (95 this week), Queen Elizabeth went through the motions of the funeral service with her trademark quiet duty and dignity, even given the horrible circumstances under which she was placed. Attendance of the funeral limited to 30 people, not able to sit next to anyone as no one attending the funeral lives in her household. 94 years old, wearing a face mask, having just lost her husband of 73 years. No hysterics, no fuss. I was struck by how Her Majesty is two things at once: so sturdy, but also fragile. This photograph from the funeral, taken by Getty, knocked me and a lot of other people over:
It was also clear that the Queen loved her husband very much. It’s being said in the papers today that Her Majesty will likely never live full-time in Buckingham Palace again, as she wants to stay close to Philip’s coffin at Windsor Castle. I don’t think anyone can begrudge her that. I hope she knows that she is surrounded by love and support, both from her family and from the people of the UK and the Commonwealth.
Kate looked regal
The Duchess of Cambridge arrived to Windsor Castle looking every bit the part of both a mourning family member and a queen in training. This is arguably the most formal we have seen Kate look in years, and every decision regarding her clothing, hair, jewellery, and even makeup spoke to the grandeur and solemnity of the occasion.
The jewellery worn by Kate yesterday, in particular, showed her closeness to the Queen and connection to Prince Philip: both her earrings and necklace were lent to her by the Queen, and the earrings had been given to then-Princess Elizabeth as a gift on the occasion of her wedding to Prince Philip in 1947. The Court Jeweller has a thorough rundown on mourning jewellery and the significance of the pieces worn by members of the BRF to the funeral yesterday – go bookmark their website and follow them on social media.
The first thought I had when I saw pictures of Kate yesterday was how regal she looked: elegant, polished, and grand. The necklace in particular is not dainty. It’s four rows of pearls connected by a large diamond clasp. To me, this necklace indicates that Kate is becoming familiar and comfortable with her future roles as Princess of Wales and Queen Consort.
Charles was upset
Totally understandable, as he has just lost his father. My heart broke a little seeing how moved Prince Charles was by the funeral service. Again, I hope he knows that many people are sending him warm wishes and support.
The planning and delivery of the day was spectacular
The Brits know how to do ceremony, and they know how to deliver something equal in precision, detail, and sentimentality. On the occasion of Prince Philip’s final sendoff, they achieved full marks. Well done to the staff who pulled this gargantuan task off during a global pandemic with extra protocols. Incredible.
Look at the precision of the military bands on the grass at Windsor Castle:
The detail of Philip’s horse carriage, carrying his gloves, hat, and red-topped container that Philip used to keep sugar cubes that he would give his horses:
And the card laid with the flowers on Prince Philip’s coffin, from Queen Elizabeth, that apparently say, “Your loving Lilibeth” (I can’t see it clearly enough to say for sure what the card says. Some others are saying that it reads “In loving memory”. Either way, very sweet.):
The funeral was a love letter from Philip to the things and people he loved
Land Rovers! The Royal Marines! Duty to Queen and country. His family. His horses. Music. It was all there, delivered in as cheeky a way as a royal ceremonial funeral would allow (“Stick me in the back of a Land Rover!”). I never met the man, but I have the impression that he would have approved of the service.
- Will and Harry didn’t erupt into a full fistfight during or after the service (that we saw). They appeared to hold it together and even spoke for a few minutes as they were leaving St. George’s Chapel. I don’t see this as a great healing of wounds. I think they knew that cameras were on them and wanted to give the papers something positive to say about them. But that’s better than nothing, I suppose.
- I understand that Prince Andrew is clearly the Queen’s favourite child; but having him sit the closest to her at the funeral, which was broadcast around the world, was a poor choice. I think that when Charles is king, we will see even less of Andrew at family functions such as this. I would be flabbergasted if he received any sort of official duty or even ceremonial dress at Charles’s coronation.
- Likewise, I noted that Prince Harry was seated in the same row as the Queen. This could (should) be seen as the Queen trying to cool down the temperature of the current fight going on between the Sussexes and the rest of the family. Even if it’s just for show, the subtle message was: Harry is welcome here, he will be welcomed home any time he wants to come back, and we’re not angry with him. Do I think the family is actually at peace with Harry? Hahahahaha. No. But this seating arrangement is a strategic way to cool down tensions.
- What happens to the Land Rover that was specially designed to carry Prince Philip’s coffin? And what happens to the exact replica of the Land Rover that was specially designed to carry Prince Philip’s coffin, in case the first Land Rover broke down? In the interest of efficiency/remembrance, a member of the BRF could use them somewhere like on the Balmoral estate. But there is the issue of them not really being normal, day to day trucks as the backs have been made specifically to fit a coffin in the back. Can you change the Land Rover back into a somewhat normal truck? Would you want to? Or do you just let them sit in a garage somewhere? I have no idea, but I would love to know.
As always, please stay safe, wear a mask, and get vaccinated when it’s your turn.