Moments that had us reaching for the tissues during Prince Philip's funeral

18 April 2021 - 11:24 By Toni Jaye Singer
Queen Elizabeth sat alone during her husband's funeral in line with the British government's Covid-19 regulations.
Queen Elizabeth sat alone during her husband's funeral in line with the British government's Covid-19 regulations.
Image: Jonathan Brady - WPA Pool/Getty Images

The British royal family bade farewell to Prince Philip, husband of Queen Elizabeth, as he was laid to rest on Saturday.

The Duke of Edinburgh's funeral service at St George's Chapel was preceded by a ceremonial procession. The entire event took place within the grounds of Windsor Castle in the UK.

Philip's send-off was full of touching moments. Here are three particularly poignant ones:

THE WIDOW SEEMINGLY ALONE IN HER GRIEF

The arrangements for Philip's funeral had to be scaled back in light of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Only 30 guests were permitted to attend the service, and they had to wear masks and practise social distancing.

The British governments guidelines regarding so-called “support bubbles” also meant that only members of the same household could sit together.

So while cohabiting couples like Princess Eugenie and her husband, for example, could turn to each other for support if need be, the queen sat by herself.

Many people's hearts went out to the widow, seemingly alone in her grief, as she bade farewell to the man she once called her “strength and stay”, who had been her husband for 73 years.

THE EMPTY CARRIAGE SEAT

The duke is said to have had much input into planning his funeral before his death at the age of 99 on April 9. One of the things he wanted to commemorate was his love of carriage driving.

The Daily Mail reports that Philip took up competitive carriage driving after he was forced to quit the polo field thanks to a “dodgy” arthritic wrist. He went on to help Britain win a world championship in the equestrian sport.

The duke would also drive teams of horses around royal estates for pleasure, a hobby which Prince William referenced in the tribute he posted to his late “grandpa” on Instagram.

I will never take for granted the special memories my children will always have of their great-grandpa coming to collect them in his carriage and seeing for themselves his infectious sense of adventure as well as his mischievous sense of humour,” William wrote.

The post was accompanied by a sweet snap of Philip at the reins of a horse-drawn carriage with William’s eldest son, Prince George, sitting alongside him.

One of the carriages Philip personally designed — and seemingly the same one from this photograph — was incorporated into the ceremonial procession that preceded his funeral service. This time the driver's seat was empty, save for one of the duke's caps and a pair of his driving gloves.

A horse-drawn carriage seen in the Quadrangle of Windsor Castle ahead of the funeral of Prince Philip. In a touching nod to the late royal's love of carriage driving his cap and a pair of his driving gloves were placed on the driver's seat.
A horse-drawn carriage seen in the Quadrangle of Windsor Castle ahead of the funeral of Prince Philip. In a touching nod to the late royal's love of carriage driving his cap and a pair of his driving gloves were placed on the driver's seat.
Image: Ian Vogler/WPA Pool/Getty Images

THE BROTHERS REUNITED

Philip's children and grandchildren followed behind his casket on foot as it was ferried from Windsor Castle to St George's Chapel in a custom Land Rover Defender 'hearse'.

The scene evoked memories of the 1997 funeral of Diana, Princess of Wales, when William and Harry — then just 15 and 12 — walked behind their mother's casket.

Much had been made of the fact that the brothers wouldn't be walking side-by-side in their grandfather's funeral procession; instead they'd be separated by their cousin, Peter Philips.

Some believed this was an attempt to diffuse any tension between the pair arising from the explosive tell-all interview Harry and his wife, Meghan, gave to Oprah Winfrey last month.

Princes William and Harry walk behind their grandfather, Prince Philip's, coffin at his funeral on April 17 2021.
Princes William and Harry walk behind their grandfather, Prince Philip's, coffin at his funeral on April 17 2021.
Image: Victoria Jones - WPA Pool/Getty Images

The couple, who stepped back from their royal duties and moved to California last year, told the famous chat show host an unnamed royal had made a racist comment about the skin tone of their then unborn son, Archie. They also said Meghan's pleas for help when she felt suicidal were ignored by “The Firm”.

Royal fans who are hoping the brothers will reconcile will be heartened to know that Harry was spotted walking and talking with William and his wife, Catherine (Kate), after the funeral service.

Meghan, who is expecting the child's second couple, did not attend the event as her doctor had advised her not to travel.

Additional reporting by Reuters.