Queen Elizabeth II said goodbye to her Prince Philip at his funeral at Windsor Castle on Saturday, alone in her pew but joined in grief by the royal family and millions watching across the globe.
For seven decades, she has been sovereign of her realms, but Elizabeth — who appeared to dab away a tear before the service — seemed poignantly small under the echoing stones of St. George’s Chapel, lowering her head to mourn her beloved consort of 73 years, as widows of any rank and fortune might.
Just 30 black-clad mourners were allowed inside the medieval chapel on the grounds of the 950-year-old castle for the last farewell and Royal Vault interment of Philip, who died April 9 at age 99.
The queen, 94, sat alone due to strict social-distancing restrictions, but nearby her four children — Prince Charles, Prince Andrew, Princess Anne and Prince Edward — were seated in groups with their own children.
Prince Andrew, center, Prince Harry and Prince Edward, in the procession ahead of Prince Philip’s funeral at Windsor Castle on April 17, 2021.AP
Charles, 72, the future king, fought back tears as he led the foot procession of his father’s coffin from castle to church.
He and his wife, Camilla Parker-Bowles, blinked back still more tears during the low-key service, which started 3 p.m. after a minute of silence observed across the United Kingdom.
Prince Charles follows the coffin of his father Prince Philip during the funeral inside Windsor Castle in Windsor, England, on April 17, 2021.Hannah McKay/Pool via AP
“We have been inspired by his unwavering loyalty to our queen, by his service to the nation and the Commonwealth, by his courage, fortitude and faith,” the dean of Windsor, David Conner, said in his call to prayer.
Perhaps the biggest mystery of the intimate ceremony — would there be frost or tenderness between Charles’ two feuding sons, Prince William, an eventual king, and his royalty-renouncing brother, Prince Harry — unfolded with quiet dignity.
Prince William and Prince Harry at their grandfather Prince Philip’s funeral on April 17, 2021.BACKGRID
William, 38, and Harry, 36, had marched to the church separated by their cousin, Peter Phillips, and sat separately throughout the 50-minute service.
But the brothers — not seen together in public since last year’s Megxit rift — chatted amiably afterward as they walked from the chapel alongside William’s wife, Kate Middleton.
The future queen consort, 39, paid silent tribute with her jewelry, wearing diamond earrings borrowed from the queen that had been gifted to Elizabeth by Philip for their wedding in 1947.
Kate, Duchess of Cambridge, center, arrives to attend the funeral of Prince Philip inside Windsor Castle on April 17, 2021. Chris Jackson/Pool via AP
Harry’s wife, Meghan Markle, who is seven months pregnant with their second child, a girl, remained home in Los Angeles.
Markle watched the funeral like everyone else — on TV — although she sent a wreath and handwritten card to the chapel.
“They know it is not about them on Saturday — it is about honoring their grandfather’s memory and supporting their grandmother,” a royal source previously told The Daily Telegraph.
Philip — the longest-serving consort in British history — was a tireless supporter of the monarchy, a popular attendee at tens of thousands of public engagements.
In any other day, the church would have been filled and the procession of his casket thronged by onlookers.
On Saturday, a modest group of several hundred lined the streets near the castle, some wearing face masks featuring his likeness.
Despite the curtailed list of attendees, royal watchers parsed every step, glance and glint of jewelry from their TVs, from the moment Philip’s coffin was borne from the palace by eight footmen.
Members of the royal family, led by Prince Charles and Princess Anne, lined up behind the hearse carrying Prince Philip’s coffin. WPA Pool/Getty Images
Throughout their marriage, Philip had followed behind the queen in accordance with royal protocol. But the queen followed the funeral procession in her Bentley on Saturday — and it was inside the car that she appeared to dab at her eyes with her black-gloved hand.
She remained behind her husband’s hearse and marchers, rather than ahead of them where a monarch would be normally, as if letting him lead her, for a change, and for their last procession together.
Philip, who had been recognized for bravery in WWII, was a lieutenant commander in the Royal Navy, and his coffin was adorned with his hat and sword.
The hearse had been personally chosen by Philip, a military-green, electric-powered Land Rover he had designed himself.
“Just stick me in the back of a Land Rover,” he’d reportedly quipped to Elizabeth, who honored his wish.