THE grieving Queen will pause to gaze on Prince Philip’s coffin as it is lowered to its final resting place on Saturday — a poignant last goodbye to her husband of 73 years.
Her Majesty, 94, will also sit alone throughout the ceremony at Windsor Castle, where she has been isolating for months — most of them with the Duke of Edinburgh.
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Philip’s send-off in St George’s Chapel has been scaled back by Covid but there will be no shortage of pomp and ceremony, as Buckingham Palace revealed today.
Colourful military rehearsals taking place around Windsor also hint at a monumental event befitting a man who served in the Navy and stood by the Queen for decades.
Courtiers have worked around the clock to ensure as many of the Duke’s wishes as possible are included.
Among them will be a touching Navy send-off before his coffin is lowered into the Royal Vault.
Royal Marines buglers will play “Action Stations” — a Royal Naval tradition signifying all hands should prepare for battle.
The Last Post will also be sounded while the National Anthem will be sung by a four-strong choir — with royal mourners banned from joining in due to Covid restrictions.
A Buckingham Palace spokesman said yesterday: “While clearly the plans have been modified to take into account public health guidelines, the ceremonial aspects of the day and the funeral service itself are still very much in line with the Duke’s wishes.”
Rehearsals were under way at Windsor on Thursday with armed police patrolling the town.
Members of the King’s Troop royal horse artillery were seen making their way up The Long Walk towards the castle.
Military bands could also be heard rehearsing inside the grounds while various regiments practised drills — with organisers timing the movements down to the second.
Buckingham Palace officials yesterday released details of Saturday’s funeral — the result of an enormous amount of planning in the week since Philip’s death aged 99.
His coffin is currently at the Private Chapel at Windsor Castle.
On Saturday it will be covered by his personal standard along with his naval cap, sword and a wreath of flowers.
It will be moved to the Inner Hall at 11am by a bearer party from The Queen’s Company, 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards.
The funeral starts at 2pm with prayer by the Dean of Windsor, David Conner. Twenty minutes later, family members who are not in the procession party will be driven to St George’s Chapel.
At 2.27pm, as the Band of the Grenadier Guards plays in the castle quadrangle, the Duke’s specially adapted Land Rover Defender will appear.
Philip’s coffin will be laid on the back of the vehicle at 2.41pm by the bearer party.
At 2.44pm the Queen and her lady-in-waiting will leave the Sovereign’s Entrance at Windsor Castle in their Bentley as the National Anthem is played. A minute later, a nine-strong family procession, led by Prince Charles and Princess Anne, will follow the coffin, joined by a personal protection officer, private secretary, two pages and two valets.
As the Queen’s Bentley reaches the rear of the procession it will pause briefly. The forward part of the procession will then turn towards St George’s Chapel.
Once outside the West Steps, a bearer party made up of Royal Marines will lift the coffin from the Land Rover — as a Royal Navy piping band plays.
The coffin will be carried up the steps before halting on the second landing — with all members of the Royal Family then pausing with the nation for a minute’s silence. Those not already wearing masks will then have to put one on before entering the chapel — in line with Covid regulations.
The bearer party will then carry the coffin to the Quire — the oldest part of the chapel — and place it on a platform called a catafalque.
Family members who have walked in the procession will take their places in the Quire alongside the other mourners.
An order of service for the 50-minute ceremony — conducted by the Dean of Windsor — is expected to be released Friday.
The Palace said yesterday that music requested by Philip in funeral plans have been specially-adapted to cope with Covid rules.
The 67-year-old countess – Penelope "Penny" Knatchbull is Philip's carriage-driving companion.
Towards the end of the service, the Last Post will be sounded by Buglers of the Royal Marines from the west end of the nave.
The Dean will then give the commendation as the coffin is lowered into the Royal Vault — with a final goodbye from the Queen.
Prince Harry, 36, has been in self-isolation at Frogmore Cottage after flying in from the US. A Palace spokesman said: “All those who have travelled internationally have followed the appropriate guidelines and will be attending the service in line with applicable guidelines travelling over for a funeral.”
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