Philip’s missing funeral requests to be honoured at his memorial service
The Duke of Edinburgh will be remembered as a “man of rare ability and distinction” at a poignant memorial service featuring elements he planned for his own funeral which were forbidden due to Covid-19 restrictions.
It is understood some of Philip’s older great-grandchildren may attend, giving the youngest generation of royals the chance to honour their much loved great-grandfather.
Missing gestures from Philip’s pre-pandemic arrangements will see Gold Duke of Edinburgh’s Award holders and members of the youth UK Cadet Force associations line the steps of Westminster Abbey as guests arrive.
The duke’s express wishes for the congregation to join and sing the rousing hymn Guide Me, O Thou Great Redeemer, and for the clergy from Windsor, Sandringham and Balmoral to play a special part will finally be granted on Tuesday.
Prayers will be said for the duke’s “gifts of character; for his humour and resilience; his fortitude and devotion to duty” by the Chapels Royal’s Sub-Dean, while “his energy and spirit of adventure” and “strength and constancy” will be heralded by royal estates’ clergy – known as the Queen’s domestic chaplains.
The duke had an active role in the day-to-day management of the estates for many years.
He wanted the minister of Crathie Church near Balmoral, the rector of Sandringham and the chaplain to the Royal Chapel of All Saints, Windsor Great Park, to take part in his funeral.
But the farewell to Philip in St George’s Chapel last April was limited to just 30 people in the midst of the pandemic and mass singing was banned, with the Queen sitting alone in a mask.
Eleven months on, the royal family including the Prince of Wales, the Duchess of Cornwall and the Cambridges will gather as part of a 1,800-strong congregation for a thanksgiving service in the duke’s honour.
The Queen is still hoping to lead her family at the high profile and personally significant occasion for her beloved late husband.
Although the monarch, who has faced mobility issues, is mentioned in the Order of Service, Buckingham Palace is expected to confirm on Tuesday morning whether or not she will be able attend.
The 95-year-old head of state pulled out of the Commonwealth Day service earlier this month due to comfort issues and has spoken about not being able to move.
She recently recovered from Covid-19 and appeared on good form at Windsor last week.
The Palace said the Queen has been actively involved in the plans for the service, with many elements reflecting her wishes.
Around 30 foreign royals will attend, including Prince Albert of Monaco, Denmark’s Queen Margrethe, King Harald and Queen Sonja of Norway, and Spain’s King Felipe VI and Queen Letizia, who would have originally been on the pre-pandemic guest list.
The duke’s wider family and friends will also be there, along with 500 representatives from his patronages and charities.
Also invited are Sir David Attenborough, Dame Floella Benjamin, Baroness Grey-Thompson and members of the military who were involved in the funeral, including Pipe Major Colour Sergeant Peter Grant and the Grenadier Guards Bearer Party.
Philip, who worked on his own funeral details – codenamed Forth Bridge – for many years, had asked for the choir to sing Te Deum in C by Benjamin Britten, and this will be part of Tuesday’s proceedings.
The Dean of Westminster, The Very Reverend David Hoyle, will describe Philip in the bidding as “a man of rare ability and distinction, rightly honoured and celebrated, he ever directed our attention away from himself”.
“Working at pace, with so many claims on his attention, he encouraged us to focus, as he was focussed, on the things that matter,” he will say.
“His was a discipline and character that seized opportunity and overcame obstruction and difficulty.
“We recall, with affection and respect, the sustained offering of a long life lived fully.”
The Dean of Windsor, The Right Reverend David Conner will deliver a seven-minute address during the service which will be televised live on BBC One.
A special tribute will be read by 28-year-old Doyin Sonibare, from London, who holds her Bronze, Silver and Gold Duke of Edinburgh Awards, about the legacy and impact of the youth scheme Philip set up in 1956.
In recognition of Philip’s long-held relationship with the armed forces, the Band of Her Majesty’s Royal Marines Portsmouth (Royal Band) will provide music before and after.
Pieces will include the upbeat The Seafarers, as well as the moving Pacific theme by Blake Neely and Hans Zimmer, composed for the HBO mini-series about a US marine corps fighting in the Pacific during the Second World War.
Philip served as First Lieutenant on the destroyer HMS Whelp in the Pacific, where he helped to rescue two airmen in 1945 whose bomber crashed into the ocean during the Allies’ Operation Meridian II against the Japanese.
Flowers in the church will be in shades of patriotic red, white and blue, with larger arrangements featuring blue eryngium – known as sea holly – a nod to the duke’s career in the Royal Navy, and his lifelong affection for the sea.
The smaller posies will include white dendrobium orchids, which appeared in Princess Elizabeth’s wedding bouquet when she married Philip in 1947.
Among those seated in the abbey will be the Duke of York, despite Andrew paying millions out of court earlier this month to settle a civil sexual assault case.
He will arrive alongside his daughters Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie, and their husbands Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi and Jack Brooksbank.
Also there will be Charles, Camilla, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, the Earl and Countess of Wessex and their children Lady Louise Windsor and Viscount Severn, the Princess Royal and Vice Admiral Sir Tim Laurence, Prince and Princess Michael of Kent, the Duke of Kent and the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester.
It is not confirmed which of the Queen and Philip’s 12 great-grandchildren could attend.
The five oldest are Savannah Phillips, Isla Phillips, Prince George, Mia Tindall and Princess Charlotte.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are not returning from the US for the service.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who publicly apologised to the Queen and the country over gatherings in Downing Street on the eve of the duke’s funeral, will be in the abbey with wife Carrie.
The Metropolitan Police is investigating the allegations of boozy lockdown-breaking parties at No 10.
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