Nation falls silent in memory of Duke of Edinburgh

Members of the public observe a minute's silence on the Long Walk in Windsor on April 17, 2021 to mark the start of the funeral service of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh (Photo by TOLGA AKMEN/AFP via Getty Images)

The nation has fallen silent in memory of the Duke of Edinburgh as his funeral marking a life of service, devotion and duty began.

The Queen and her family have gathered to say farewell to Philip, who died peacefully just over a week ago at Windsor Castle and was hailed as the "grandfather" of the country by his son the Duke of York.

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Covid-19 regulations have reduced the scope of the service with public elements cancelled, mourners reduced from around 800 to just 30, and all guests wearing face masks and sitting apart.

As the funeral began the nation came to a halt to observe a minute's silence in memory of the duke who died a few months short of his 100th birthday.

In weather more like summer than spring, the Prince of Wales and Princess Royal had led senior royals in walking behind their father's coffin the short distance from the castle to St George's Chapel.

Nearby, a topless protester ran in front of a crowd near Windsor Castle following the minute’s silence.

The woman ran onto the road shouting “save the planet” after the crowd began clapping following the silence.

She jumped onto a statue of Queen Victoria before police officers removed her from the scene on Castle Hill.

Royal mourners

Philip's coffin was carried on a custom-built Land Rover Defender hearse designed by the duke and modified over 16 years.

It was followed for part of its final journey by the Queen, who travelled in a Bentley with Lady Susan Hussey, with her trusted lady-in-waiting - with both wearing facemasks.

Watching as it passed were royal mourners including the Duchess of Cornwall, Duchess of Cambridge, Countess of Wessex and her children Viscount Severn and Lady Louise Windsor.

Zara and Mike Tindall, Princess Beatrice and her husband Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi, and Princess Eugenie and her husband Jack Brooksbank were also in attendance.

Philip's death left the monarchy grieving in private, but they made public appearances to recognise the support and condolences received throughout the week from the nation.

Charles spoke first for the family and praised his "dear Papa" for the "most remarkable, devoted service to the Queen, to my family and to the country".

A few days later he understandably looked more emotional when he saw first-hand at Marlborough House the hundreds of cards, flowers, letters and pictures left by the public wanting to honour his father.

‘Master of the barbecue’

Personal, funny and revealing tributes were paid by the duke's children and grandchildren who knew him best, and saw a side of the duke only glimpsed at by the outside world.

The Duke of Sussex summed up his "grandpa" as "master of the barbecue, legend of banter, and cheeky right till the end" while the Duke of Cambridge pledged to uphold his wishes and continue to support the Queen and "get on with the job".

Unseen photographs were released showing Philip sat on a sofa with the Queen at Balmoral surrounded by their great-grandchildren, having a bite to eat with his family with a beer at hand, or in the Scottish Highlands relaxing with his wife.

Philip's death has come at a time of upheaval for the royal family with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex making accusations of racism and a lack of support against their family in their bombshell Oprah Winfrey interview.

Harry also spoke about a rift with his brother William and father Charles, and this week the funeral plans revealed he would not walk shoulder to shoulder with his sibling in the funeral procession or sit together inside the chapel.

In an unexpected move it was announced military uniforms would not be worn but morning coat with medals or day dresses.

It meant Harry - who lost his honorary military titles after stepping down as senior royals - would not look out of place and it put an end to reports the Duke of York was considering wearing an admiral's uniform.

Andrew was due to be promoted to admiral in 2020 to mark his 60th birthday, but after the fallout from his friendship with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein he did not receive the honour.