The Queen shed a tear for Prince Philip at an extraordinary service in remembrance of his remarkable life of service to Britain and his wife today.
Her Majesty stood in Westminster Abbey where she had personally ensured her beloved husband’s final wishes were fulfilled after his covid-hit funeral left her sat alone without the rousing hymns and guests he loved so much.
The 95-year-old monarch used a stick as she was walked to her seat by her disgraced son the Duke of York to give her ‘strength and stay’ Philip the send-off he wanted at a service attended by the Royal Family and his relatives, friends and people who benefitted from his charities. Prince Harry and Meghan Markle were the only senior royals not there.
Despite battling mobility problems, she stood to pray and sing anthems during a 40-minute service that her husband of 73 years had helped plan for before his death last April. But chose Prince Andrew to support her as she arrived and left the church, clutching his elbow with one hand and a walking stick with the other.
The Queen had stood with tears in her eyes as the 1,800-strong congregation sang Guide Me O Thou Great Redeemer before the bells of Westminster Abbey rang out to mark the end of the memorial service for the Duke of Edinburgh.
After she leant on Andrew as she walked back out of the church, the Queen appeared to grimace as she walked to the car hunched over with the Duke of York at her side guiding her towards the Bentley.
She appeared to be holding tightly to her sticks and appeared to be making a great effort to get to the vehicle, concentrating very hard in taking each step. Once inside the car she appeared to be back to her normal composed self as the car slowly drove away. She waved to onlookers as she arrived and left the service.
The Queen listened as the Dean of Windsor paid tribute to Philip’s intellect, work ethic, sense of humour and devotion to his family.
The Right Reverend David Conner described the duke as a ‘remarkable man’ who was committed to ‘a host of down-to-earth enterprises’. He pointed out that the duke could be ‘abrupt’, and suggested that at times he could forget ‘just how intimidating he could be’. Princess Beatrice was seen to give a small chuckle as the Dean remarked: ‘He could be somewhat sharp in pricking what he thought to be bubbles of pomposity or sycophancy.’
Flowers at today’s service are a patriotic red, white and blue, at Her Majesty’s request. They included dendrobium orchids, which also featured in the Queen’s wedding bouquet, and eryngium – or sea holly – echoing the duke’s career in the Royal Navy and lifelong affection for the sea. There were also multiple tributes to his intellect, work ethic, sense of humour and devotion to his family and his country.
Her Majesty had arrived at the side door of the church, allowing her to walk a shorter distance from Poets’ Corner to the front where she was surrounded by her children and grandchildren. She stood at various points in the service, despite her own admission recently that she is struggling to move.
The Queen, the Duchess of Cornwall and the Princess Royal were all dressed in dark green in a subtle tribute to Philip, whose livery colour was Edinburgh Green. A number of others throughout the congregation also wore the shade, including Duke of Edinburgh Gold Award holder Doyin Sonibare who delivered a special tribute about the effect Philip’s youth scheme had on her life.
Westminster Abbey was completely packed today to celebrate the 99-year life of Prince Philip as Her Majesty battled mobility issues and fought off covid to be there to say goodbye to her husband after 73 years of marriage.
The event, attended by most of the Duke of Edinburgh‘s family and many of Europe’s most senior royals, is in the starkest of contrasts to his pared back funeral at Windsor last April when Her Majesty said goodbye to her strength and stay after 73 years of marriage.
The Queen finally decided to attend today’s service in Central London around two hours before but the coverage of the Service of Thanksgiving was dominated by her extraordinary decision to travel with her disgraced son Prince Andrew from Windsor Castle to Central London.
Her Majesty was determined to be amongst the 1,800 guests despite the 95-year-old’s mobility problems that have prevented her doing a major public engagement away from Windsor Castle in nearly six months. The Tindalls were the first close family to arrive, followed Princess Anne, the Wessexes, Prince Charles and his wife Camilla and then the Cambridges, who were with their children George and Charlotte. The Queen was the last to arrive with Andrew.
It was a move that royal watchers believe may have upset her son Prince Charles and grandson Prince William – both instrumental in the decision to take away the Duke of York’s ‘HRH’.
The Queen chose her second son to join her in the back of her royal car for the 22-mile journey and he was also given a front row in the church, right next to his other siblings at the service just weeks after he paid millions to one of Jeffrey Epstein’s sex slaves, Virginia Roberts Giuffre, who accused him of having sex with her three times when she was trafficked to London aged 17.
The Queen’s state limousine arrived at Poets’ Yard entrance with Andrew sat beside her. As they walked through the famous section of the abbey towards her seat, in a small procession, the monarch held onto her son’s elbow with her left hand and had a walking stick in her right.
They walked at a slow but steady pace both looking ahead, and at the end of the aisle they separated – with Andrew giving a last glance to his mother as she turned right. After the first hymn, Charles, who was sat next to her mother, could be seen leaning over to speak to the Queen seated next to him – but it is not clear what was said. The Queen then delved into her black Launer handbag for her glasses to read the order of service.
After the 40 minute service, Her Majesty was escorted out of the abbey by the Duke of York. As the monarch stopped to greet Duke of Edinburgh Gold Award holder Doyin Sonibare, Andrew stood back and at one point broke into a smile.
The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall were the first to leave Westminster Abbey alongside the abbey’s chapter.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge followed. All four royals waved at the crowd outside as they were driven away in black cars.