The Funeral of Prince Philip

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:

Queen Elizabeth II sits in St. George’s Chapel at the beginning of the funeral service for her late husband, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.

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.

Other thoughts:

  • 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.

Please let me know your thoughts in the comments. You can subscribe to my weekly newsletter below, or support me on Square or Patreon. Thanks so much for your support, and for reading.

As always, please stay safe, wear a mask, and get vaccinated when it’s your turn.

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2 thoughts on “The Funeral of Prince Philip

  1. The ceremony was stunning. Very moving and a fitting tribute to a military man and longest serving consort.

    The seating arrangements were puzzling to me, however it somehow made sense. On Prince Charles’ side, people were seated in rows 1 & 3, socially distanced. If you noticed The Queen always sits in the second row to the right of the altar (she did this at Eugenie and Harry’s weddings respectively). So, social distance couldn’t occur within rows 1&3 on the right side (Queen’s side). Prince Philip’s children had “front row” seats, but the positioning of the grandchildren was somehow done in order of line to the throne instead of birth order. Poor Peter Phillips – the first grandchild of Prince Philip – was on the left side, but sat 3rd row in another section. The Dukes of Kent and Gloucester sat on The Queen’s side, 3rd row, second section.

    And poor Princess Anne had to sit between the two second born male “problems.”

    I agree with you about William and Harry “talking” for the cameras. I bet it was extremely awkward for Harry. I noticed when he was exiting the altar after the service, Lady Louise had to stand out of his way because he was plowing through after Prince Charles. It would have been more respectful had he let the Wessex family go first as Edward was Philip’s child. I’m sure there was lots of “general” conversation about the weather, his flight – anything that was super boring lest it get back to Gayle King.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Hi, well I agree it was a very well done funeral, and I must say Prince Phillip really did manage to get his own way right until the end, he didn’t want fuss in his funeral and died in a moment where the pandemic numbers are going down in the UK but measures are still needed so they were only able to invite 30 guests, it was hard, for sure it would have been nice to see European royalty, members of his charities and so on, but that would have been more fuss too. The other downside was that the Queen had to sit alone, I know it hit hard many people, maybe millions, but to me it was more worrisome when she arrived to the chapel, maybe she was already looking like this for a while and we didn’t want to notice it, but yesterday I noticed her walking more slowly than ever, more fragile, it was more a relief seeing her in her seat but it’s true it sucked she had to sit alone. That said I think she’s a “strong cookie” like they say in the US, and today she was driving out of Windsor with a security person or aide next to her and pressumably her dogs in the car, so if anyone can recover from this, is her.
    I agree about Kate, in my opinion everybody looked well dressed and I know Kate’s outfit and other outfits (and jewelry) were a success with the press.
    About prince Charles, I’m going to try to be as delicate as possible and just say prince Phillip wasn’t a fan of his son sentimentalism. Poor Charles was encouraged not to cry during his great-uncle Lord Louis Mountbatten’s funeral in 1979, who was like a second father to Charles. I think it was during the last 20 years or so that prince Phillip sort of accepted / tolerated his son way of being, when he said that Charles was a romantic, he himself was a pragmatist, and they were bound to see things differently. It’s a good thing for Charles that nowadays people are more tolerant to men manifesting their emotions in public.
    I think some media has blown out of proportion several things about William and Harry interactions or lack thereof before and after the funeral. US and even some UK media made a big deal about how they would walk behind the coffin, using a lot the phrase “they won’t walk together”, and completely failing to mention that the way they would walk behind this coffin was similar to the way they walked behind their mother’s coffin in 1997 when their uncle Charles Spencer walked between them in the row. So many US commentators where blasting William and / or the BRF, using words as “petty” and referencing the rascism claims, and many others simply expressed sadness, many “how sad”, “this is sad”, etc. Only Hello magazine and Hello Canada published articles explaining why Peter Phillips would walk in the middle and why one of his cousins would walk to his right and the other to his left, and it was an age thing protocol. Now the Daily Mail says there are claims that William asked for Peter to be placed between himself and H, and that they asked one of H’s friends about this and this person said H is just doing what he’s being told and getting on with it. I think this claim from the Daily Mail is BS and overall the media is just trying to make more drama out of the one we already have. Then we have their talk after the funeral and many people acting like “that’s it, they made out”, that’s just ridiculous, this whole ruckus needs a very serious and long conversation, and they had already spoken a bit by phone (apparently, mostly by text as well) before the funeral so it wasn’t like they weren’t talking at all until yesterday. What I do wonder is how spontaneous it truly was, the family was going to leave the chapel using several cars and suddenly the majority decided to walk, H spoke to Kate first, William ended up in the conversation and then Kate pulled back and walked behind with the Wessexes. So did the family orchestrated this moment, or did Kate alone organized it, or were William and H involved all along for camera and public’s sake, or unaware it was going to happen? I even considered whether a message to M was being send with this or not (if it was orchestrated), but I decided it wasn’t about her because I think if organized, the BRF would be more interested in ending the feud between the brothers than settling scores with M.
    Also about H at the funeral, the Daily Mail reported (and this I can believe more) that H has encountered “a lot of frostiness” from the family. According to them, princess Anne, prince Edward and Sophie Wessex didn’t acknowledge him at all. They also said several family members are very protective of the Queen right now, I would say of the Queen and Prince’s Phillip memory because after all the Oprah interview aired when he was ill. It has been said that princess Anne was his fauvorite child, she was clearly emotional yesterday and it looked like she was holding back tears. It seems prince Edward had a good rapport with his father as well, and his wife Sophie became close to her in-laws, she has also being very emotional this week and there is a pic of her crying at the funeral. So it wouldn’t be surprising that these relatives and their offspring are not fans of H right now. The article also reported that (as they said “ironically”) Andrew is more sympatethic to H, both because of the ostracism experienced by Sarah Ferguson but also now because of its own. This brings me to your comment about prince Andrew and H being in the same row as the Queen, I guess they hoped people wouldn’t notice it much, in fact I felt that besides the Queen and a couple of shots of H, the cameras focused more on the opposite side that also had more direct family members, Charles, Camilla, the Wessexes, the Cambridges, and the 3 grandaughters that are married with their respective husbands (I think some of the 3 German relatives too). It was probably a concious decision to sit them this way, also the people in the Queen’s side was more separated from her while on the opposite side people were a little closer. I guess the idea was to focus the camera on the Queen when panning to that side, a couple of shots of H, Anne and her husband, and that was it regarding that side.
    If I was them, I would either save the Land Rovers for future funerals of some of them or send them back to the company so they can reform them for future use, though I think the one used yesterday could end up in a museum.

    Liked by 2 people

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