Queen Elizabeth bids farewell to her 'strength and stay' Prince Philip

Queen Elizabeth bids farewell to her 'strength and stay' Prince Philip

The Queen, 94, seen for the first time since his death, was dressed in mourning black, with a white-trimmed, black face mask.

Queen Elizabeth II on Saturday bid farewell to her late husband, Prince Philip, at a royal funeral like no other, restricted by coronavirus rules but reflecting his long life of military and public service.

The Duke of Edinburgh, who died on April 9 at age 99, was interred in the Royal Vault at St George's Chapel at Windsor Castle after a 50-minute service attended by just 30 guests.

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The Queen, 94, seen for the first time since his death, was dressed in mourning black, with a white-trimmed, black face mask. Close family, also masked, sat socially distanced in the historic 15th-century Gothic chapel.

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

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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.”

Meghan Merkel 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. US networks showed the funeral live as did British TV stations.

Philip — described by royals as "the grandfather of the nation" — was Britain's longest-serving royal consort and was married to the Queen for 73 years.

He was an almost constant presence at her side during her record-breaking reign that began in 1952 as Britain rebuilt from World War II, and as its global empire began to unravel.

His death, which the family said had left a "huge void" in the Queen's life, has robbed of her of the man she called her "strength and stay" and closes a remarkable chapter for Britain's most famous family, and in the country's history.

The last high-profile funeral of a senior royal was for the Queen's mother, who died in 2002, aged 101.

But unlike then, when more than one million people thronged outside Westminster Abbey in central London to watch the sombre pageant, the public was noticeably absent from Saturday's ceremony.

The coronavirus pandemic forced hasty revisions to the well-rehearsed plans for the duke's death, code-named "Operation Forth Bridge," stripping back public elements to prevent large crowds from gathering.

Government guidelines limited the number of mourners and a quartet performed hymns the duke chose himself in a barren nave stripped of seating.

Mark of respect

The ceremonial funeral from behind the stately castle walls was broadcast live on television to millions across Britain and the world. Beforehand, a military gun fired to signal a minute's silence, when his coffin, draped in his standard and topped by a wreath of white roses and lilies from the Queen, his naval cap and ceremonial sword was borne by a bespoke Land Rover hearse he designed himself, arrived at the chapel.

Across Britain — on the streets, in shops, railway stations and at sporting events — people bowed their heads with respect. Flights in an out of nearby Heathrow Airport were stopped for the duration of the ceremony.

Despite the restrictions, the stripped-down sendoff for the former Royal Navy commander still combined centuries of royal protocol with pomp, pageantry -- and military precision.

Members of the British armed forces, in formal dress, lined the procession route, heads bowed, as the cortege passed, as a minute gun rang out across the grounds and a bell tolled.

The Queen, who had been escorted to the chapel by a lady-in-waiting in the royal Bentley, watched from the chapel choir as her husband's was lowered steadily into the Royal Vault by electric motor.

The Pipe Major of the Royal Regiment of Scotland played a lament, and buglers of the Royal Marines sounded The Last Post. When the Queen dies, he will be transferred to lie alongside her in the King George VI memorial chapel, which houses the remains of her father, George VI, her mother, also called Elizabeth, and the ashes of her younger sister, Margaret.

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