Queen Elizabeth stands alone as her 'strength' Philip is laid to rest

Queen Elizabeth and Britain bid farewell to Prince Philip
The coffin of Britain's Prince Philip, husband of Queen Elizabeth, who died at the age of 99, is taken into St. George's Chapel for a funeral service, in Windsor. Kirsty Wigglesworth/Pool via REUTERS

Windsor: Queen Elizabeth and her family paid their last respects to Prince Philip at a funeral on Saturday that celebrated his naval past, his international heritage and seven decades of service in which he helped guide the queen through repeated crises.

Elizabeth, dressed in black and in a white trimmed black mask, stood alone as her husband of 73 years was lowered into the Royal Vault in a service attended by senior royals including heir Prince Charles and his sons Princes William and Harry.

Queen Elizabeth and Britain to bid farewell to Prince Philip
Britain's Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh at the top of the Coyles of Muick, taken by the Countess of Wessex in 2003, obtained by Reuters on April 16, 2021. The Countess of Wessex via PA Wire/Handout via Reuters

The queen was placed alone in the ceremony at St George's Chapel with her children, grandchildren and a select group of royal mourners, separated due to COVID-19 rules.

"We remember before thee this day Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, rendering thanks unto thee–for his resolute faith and loyalty, for his high sense of duty and integrity," Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby said in a prayer.

Philip, officially known as the Duke of Edinburgh, died aged 99 on April 9. The queen in 1997 described Philip as her "strength and stay" over their decades of marriage.

The archbishop praised Philip's "life of service to the nation and Commonwealth, and for the courage and inspiration of his leadership."

Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip
Knitted figures of Britain's Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip, her husband who died at the age of 99, are pictured on top of a letter box in Windsor, near London, Britain, April 16, 2021. Reuters/Phil Noble

After the nation observed a minute's silence in brilliant sunshine, Harry and William took up their places on opposite sides of the chapel in Windsor Castle, with the final resting place of Tudor monarch Henry VIII dividing them.

Philip's naval cap and sword lay on top of the coffin, which was covered with the Duke of Edinburgh's personal standard featuring the Danish coat of arms, the Greek cross, Edinburgh Castle and the stripes of the Mountbatten family.

Members of the military arrive for the funera
Members of the military arrive for the funeral of Britain's Prince Philip in Windsor Castle, Britain April 17, 2021. Victoria Jones/Pool via REUTERS

A wreath of white roses, lilies and jasmine from the 94-year-old queen also adorned the coffin.

Royal mourners

The four-person choir sang a sailors' hymn, "Eternal Father, Strong to Save", and shortly before he was lowered into the Royal Vault, the Russian "Kontakion of the Departed", a hymn of the Orthodox and Eastern churches, echoed around the ancient church. There were no eulogies.

A wreath sent by Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson
A wreath sent by Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson sits among the flowers outside St George's Chapel, following the death of Britain's Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh at the age of 99, at Windsor Castle, Berkshire, Britain April 16, 2021. Steve Parsons/PA Wire/Pool via Reuters

Philip's coffin was borne to the chapel on a bespoke Defender TD 130 in military green as a minute gun fired eight times.

Before the procession, military bands spaced out across the quadrangle of Windsor Castle to play the prince's chosen music, including "I Vow To Thee My Country,", "Jerusalem" and "Nimrod".

Philip, who married Elizabeth in 1947, helped the young queen adapt the monarchy to the changing world of the post-World War Two era as the loss of empire and the decline of deference challenged the world's most prominent royal family.

Britain's Queen Elizabeth II
Britain's Queen Elizabeth II arrives for the funeral of Britain's Prince Philip, who died at the age of 99, at St George's Chapel, in Windsor, Britain, April 17, 2021. Victoria Jones/Pool via REUTERS

She has now been widowed just as she grapples with one of the gravest crises to hit the royal family in decades - allegations of racism and neglect by it from her grandson Harry and his American-born wife Meghan.

Much media attention will focus on the royals' behaviour towards Harry, who was making his first public appearance with the family since the couple gave an explosive interview to Oprah Winfrey last month.

In the interview they accused one unnamed royal of making a racist comment, and said Meghan's pleas for help when she felt suicidal were ignored.

The Alnwick Gardens
The Alnwick Gardens fountain is lit purple to pay tribute to Britain's Prince Philip, husband of Queen Elizabeth, who died at the age of 99 in Alnwick, Northumberland, Britain April 16, 2021. Reuters/Lee Smith

The couple, who moved to Los Angeles and quit royal duties last year, laid bare their perceptions of the family's attitudes in what amounted to a critique of the old-fashioned customs of an ancient institution.

Meghan said she had been silenced by "the Firm" while Harry said his father, Charles, had refused to take his calls. Harry said both Charles and his brother William were trapped in the royal family.

Meghan watched the funeral at her home in California after she was advised by her doctor not to travel while pregnant, a source familiar with the situation said. U.S. networks showed the funeral live as did British TV stations.

Members of The Kings Troop Royal Horse Artillery
Members of The Kings Troop Royal Horse Artillery arrive at Windsor Castle on the day of the funeral of Britain's Prince Philip, husband of Queen Elizabeth, who died at the age of 99, in Windsor, Britain, April 17, 2021. REUTERS/Phil Noble/Pool

Mourners eschewed the tradition of wearing military uniforms, a step newspapers said was to prevent embarrassment to Harry, who despite serving two tours in Afghanistan during his army career, is not be entitled to wear a uniform because he was stripped of his honorary military titles.

Prince Andrew, who stepped down from public duties in 2019 over controversy surrounding his what he termed his "ill-judged" association with late US financier Jeffrey Epstein, had wanted to wear an admiral's uniform at the funeral, media reported.

Peterborough Cathedral
The chorus sing during an evensong at Peterborough Cathedral, after Britain's Prince Philip, husband of Queen Elizabeth, died at the age of 99, in Peterborough, Britain, April 16, 2021. Reuters/Andrew Boyers

Andrew sat closest to the queen.

A family occasion

The palace emphasised beforehand that while the occasion would have the due pageantry that marks the passing of a senior royal, it remained an occasion for a mourning family to mark the passing of a husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather.

There were just 30 mourners inside the chapel for the service because of continuing coronavirus restrictions in Britain.

Britain's Prince Charles, Britain's Princess Anne and members of the Royal Family walk behind the hearse on the grounds of Windsor Castle during the funeral of Britain's Prince Philip. Alastair Grant/Pool via REUTERS

Philip's dedication to his duty earned him widespread popularity in Britain, but he was also criticised by some for a number of off-the-cuff racist or abrupt comments which shocked princes, priests and presidents.

"He was authentically himself, with a seriously sharp wit, and could hold the attention of any room due to his charm and also because you never knew what he might say next," Harry said of his grandfather.

Philip was a decorated Royal Navy veteran of World War Two and his funeral, much of which was planned in meticulous detail by the prince himself, had a strong military feel, with personnel from across the armed forces playing prominent roles.

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