Queen, Royal Family pay respects to Prince Philip at funeral

As military bands played and a procession of royals escorted his coffin to the church, Prince Philip was laid to rest on Saturday in a funeral ceremony that honoured his lifetime of service to Britain and the Commonwealth, the crown and his wife of 73 years, Queen Elizabeth.

COVID-19 limited attendance to just 30 mourners inside St. George's Chapel

As military bands played and a procession of royals escorted his coffin to the church, Prince Philip was laid to rest on Saturday in a funeral ceremony that honoured his lifetime of service to Britain and the Commonwealth, the crown and his wife of 73 years, Queen Elizabeth.

The widowed monarch, setting an example amid the COVID-19 pandemic, sat alone at the ceremony, dressed in black and with her head bowed in prayer.

Philip, who died April 9 two months shy of his 100th birthday, was honoured at Windsor Castle in a service that was steeped in military and royal tradition — but also was pared down and infused with his own personality.

The entire procession and funeral took place out of public view within the grounds of the castle, a 950-year-old royal residence 30 kilometres west of London, but was shown live on television.

Queen Elizabeth arrives at St. George's Chapel on Saturday to attend the funeral of her husband, Prince Philip, who died on April 9 at the age of 99. (Victoria Jones/The Associated Press)

Coronavirus restrictions meant that instead of the 800 mourners expected in the long-standing plans for Philip's funeral, only 30 people were allowed inside the castle's St. George's Chapel, including the Queen, her four children and her eight grandchildren.

Following strict physical-distancing rules during the pandemic, the Queen set an example even in grief, sitting apart from family members who were arrayed around the church.

Prince Charles, the heir to the throne, sat opposite the monarch alongside his wife, Camilla. Prince Andrew was two seats to the Queen's left. Prince William and his wife, Kate, sat directly opposite from his brother, Prince Harry, who had travelled back from California without his pregnant wife, Meghan Markle.

Guests arrive on the grounds of Windsor Castle on Saturday, the day of Prince Philip's funeral. (Justin Tallis/Reuters)

People across Britain observed one minute of silence in honour of Philip just before the funeral got underway.

Under soft spring sunshine, some locals earlier stopped outside the castle to leave flowers, but people largely heeded requests by police and the palace not to gather because of the pandemic.

Philip's coffin travelled to the chapel on a specially adapted Land Rover designed by the prince himself. The coffin was draped in his personal standard and topped with his Royal Navy cap, sword and a wreath of flowers.

Prince William, left, Prince Harry, right, and members of the Royal Family — including Prince Andrew, centre — walk behind the hearse on the grounds of Windsor Castle during the funeral of Prince Philip, in Windsor, England, on Saturday. (Alastair Grant/Reuters)

For the procession, senior military commanders lined up in front of the vehicle. The children of Philip and the Queen — Charles, Princess Anne, Andrew and Prince Edward — walked behind the hearse, while the 94-year-old Queen travelled to the chapel in a Bentley.

Grandsons Prince William and Prince Harry also walked behind the coffin, although not side by side. The brothers, whose relationship has been strained amid Harry's decision to quit royal duties and move to California, flanked their cousin Peter Phillips, Princess Anne's son.

For many viewers, the moment stirred memories of William and Harry at 15 and 12, walking behind their mother Princess Diana's coffin in 1997, accompanied by their grandfather Philip, in a London ceremony televised around the world.

As mourners left the chapel after Saturday's service, the two brothers were seen walking together and chatting.

Police walk outside Windsor Castle ahead of Prince Philip's funeral. (Molly Darlington/Reuters)

The funeral reflected Philip's military ties, both as a ceremonial commander of many units and as a veteran of war. More than 700 military personnel took part, including army bands, Royal Marine buglers and an honour guard drawn from across the armed forces.

No sermon or eulogies

Inside the Gothic chapel, the setting for centuries of royal weddings and funerals, the service was simple and sombre. 

It began with Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby entering the chapel ahead of the coffin, followed by Philip's children and three of his eight grandchildren, as a four-member, physically distanced choir sang, "I am the resurrection and the life."

There was no sermon, at Philip's request, and no family eulogies or readings, in keeping with royal tradition.

But Dean of Windsor David Conner said the country has been enriched by Philip's "unwavering loyalty to our Queen, by his service to the nation and the Commonwealth, by his courage, fortitude and faith."

A man wears a face covering with a picture of the Duke of Edinburgh as he walks on the Long Walk in Windsor, England, on Saturday. (Frank Augstein/The Associated Presss)

Philip spent almost 14 years in the Royal Navy and saw action in the Mediterranean, Indian Ocean and Pacific during the Second World War. Several elements of his funeral had a maritime theme, including the hymn Eternal Father, Strong to Save, which is associated with seafarers and asks God: "O hear us when we cry to thee/For those in peril on the sea."

Leading a prayer, Conner said: "Grant unto him the assurance of thine ancient promise that thou wilt ever be with those who go down to the sea in ships and occupy their business in great waters."

As Philip's coffin was lowered into the Royal Vault, Royal Marine buglers sounded "Action Stations," an alarm that alerts sailors to prepare for battle. Its inclusion, after the traditional bugle call of "The Last Post," was a personal request from Philip.

Philip was placed in the vault alongside the remains of 24 other royals, including three kings of England. But it will likely not be his permanent resting place. After the Queen's death, she and Philip are expected to be buried in the Royal Burial Ground on the Frogmore Estate close to Windsor Castle.

A soldier stands outside Windsor Castle ahead of Prince Philip's funeral in Windsor, England, on Saturday. (Hannah McKay/Pool/The Associated Press)

Pandemic limits funeral guests to 30 

Along with Philip's children and grandchildren, the 30 funeral guests included other senior royals and several of his German relatives. Philip was born a prince of Greece and Denmark and, like the Queen, is related to a thicket of European royal families.

Ahead of the funeral, Buckingham Palace released a photo of the Queen and Philip, smiling and relaxing on blankets in the grass in the Scottish Highlands in 2003. The palace said the casual photo was a favourite of the Queen.

The Queen shared this photo of herself with her husband of 73 years, the Duke of Edinburgh, on Friday evening. The couple are seen relaxing in Scotland in 2003. (The Countess of Wessex/Buckingham Palace/The Associated Press)

For decades, Philip was a fixture of British life, renowned for his founding of the Duke of Edinburgh's Awards youth program and for a blunt-spoken manner that at times included downright offensive remarks. He lived in his wife's shadow, but his death has sparked a reflection about his role and new appreciation from many in Britain.

"He was a character, an absolute character," said Jenny Jeeves as she looked at the floral tributes in Windsor. "He was fun, he was funny. Yes, he made quite a few gaffes, but it depends which way you took it really. Just a wonderful husband, father, and grandfather, and a good example to all of us, really."

A small service, focused on the Royal Family, was held at Windsor Castle for Prince Philip, seen here during a visit to the Admiralty Board and Admiralty House on Nov. 23, 2011, in London. (Carl Court/Getty Images)

In Ottawa on Saturday, Canada's national commemorative ceremony in honour of Philip offered a scaled-back pandemic-era tribute to a man remembered for his public service, commitment to youth and enduring support of the Queen.

The service at Christ Church Cathedral in Ottawa, which included virtual tributes and performances, followed the Duke of Edinburgh's official funeral in England.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who earlier on Saturday announced a $200,000 donation to the Duke of Edinburgh's International Award, called the late royal "a man of great service."

A gun salute took place as part of the national ceremony, which was followed by a recital by the Dominion Carillonneur at the Peace Tower on Parliament Hill.

Smoke envelopes members of the 30th Field Artillery Regiment, Royal Canadian Artillery, as they conduct a gun salute near Rideau Hall in Ottawa on Saturday to honour Prince Philip. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)

With files from The Canadian Press

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