It will also be a send-off like no other in Royal history as Covid protocols restrict the mourners to just 30 – a handful of those who would have expected to attend.
Our thoughts, as the country prepares to fall silent at 3pm, are with the Queen as she grieves for the Duke of Edinburgh, her “strength and stay” of 73 years’ marriage, as both a monarch and a widow.
That Covid rules mean that Her Majesty, too, will be sitting alone at St George’s Chapel to say her final farewell, a cruel ordeal faced by so many others during the pandemic, will resonate even more widely at this sorrowful time as she, again, puts duty first and leads by example just as she has done throughout her reign.
But the Queen, and the rest of the Royal Family, should continue to draw great strength, as they have already done, from the public’s affectionate tributes and greater understanding of Prince Philip’s service and many interests – including that specially modified Land Rover that will carry his coffin before the sounding of Action Stations, a proud Naval tradition, and The Last Post, during a funeral planned with military precision.
He came to exemplify the very best of the wartime generation – “a model example” who, in the words of the former Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, became “the embodiment of devotion, duty and loyalty”.
And it is this example, coupled with a new-found appreciation of the societal role that the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Scheme can now fulfil in preparing today’s young people for future challenges, that will be the abiding memory – and legacy – of Prince Philip who was far more than the longest serving Royal consort in history.
He was a one-off who we salute, too, for one final time.
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