ymbolic of her devastating loss, the Queen sat alone, separated from her household within the age of a pandemic, as she paid a heart-breaking farewell to the person she relied upon above all others.
Seventy three years, 4 months and 28 days in the past, she was a 21-year-old princess in a bridal robe in an abbey, marrying the dashing lieutenant whom she fell in love with at first sight.
Now, the nation’s longest reigning monarch, 4 days from her ninety fifth birthday, was clad in mourning black, with out her loyal consort the Duke of Edinburgh at her aspect as she mentioned her final goodbye to him following a lifetime collectively.
Because the Queen first took her seat within the historical carved picket stalls of St George’s Chapel she was solely alone on the south aspect of quire, whereas the opposite members of her household attributable to be seated in her row have been strolling within the procession.
But even after they arrived, coronavirus guidelines dictated the area subsequent to the monarch – often occupied by Philip – should stay empty, and the one subsequent to it additionally.
Over an arm’s stretch away was the Queen and the duke’s second son the Duke of York.
Simply the Queen’s solemn eyes, her glasses on, have been seen, together with her face principally lined together with her jet black masks, edged in white.
Because the world watched, she bowed her head throughout the nationwide minute’s silence in honour of her misplaced beloved one.
Grand royal funerals are a uncommon incidence, however this, like no different ever witnessed earlier than within the historical past of the monarchy, was unprecedented within the limitations positioned upon it because the bruised and battered nation copes with the worst public well being disaster for generations.
A Queen, two future kings and two future queen consorts gathered, of their face coverings like the remainder of the restricted congregation of simply 30 rigorously chosen attendees, and have been grouped into pairs and households to maintain Covid-19 at bay.
With its robust nautical theme, the funeral, every element organised at Philip’s personal hand, mirrored the duke’s lifelong affiliation with the Royal Navy – buglers, seafaring hymns and the ship’s battle cry Motion Stations.
The setting was the breathtakingly stunning quire of St George’s Chapel, with its carved stalls of the Knights and Girls of the Garter and luxurious towering fan vaulted stone ceiling and spectacular stained glass home windows.
Husband and consort, father, grandfather and great-grandfather, and a army man of robust character of who by no means preferred a fuss, the duke’s a long time of service to Britain and his dedication to royal obligation have been heralded as exemplary.
However the irony would on no account have been misplaced on Philip that when, as a younger Prince of Greece and Denmark, he first started to courtroom the longer term Queen, old-school courtiers disapproved and have been suspicious of this overseas prince within the post-war years.
Sensible to the top, at his request his coffin was borne on a sturdy Land Rover hearse he designed himself and final tinkered with plans for on the age of 98, whereas rolled slowly by way of the grounds to the west steps.
In days passed by, Philip would have been haring by way of the countryside on his favorite driving carriage, however now it stood stationary within the Quadrangle in his honour, joined by his two dependable black Fell ponies – Balmoral Nevis and Notlaw Storm.
In his place on his seat was the duke’s small purple sugar lump pot from which he would give his ponies candy treats and his flat cap, gloves and whip – a touching reminder of his absence.
After his marriage ceremony, Philip wrote to his mother-in-law: “Lilibet is the one ‘factor’ on the earth which is completely actual to me and my ambition is to weld the 2 of us into a brand new mixed existence that won’t solely be capable to face up to the shocks directed at us however can have a optimistic existence for the nice.”
Collectively they confronted the ups and downs of the Queen’s reign, the trials and tribulations of household life – an irreplaceable bond, united at key moments of historical past, witnessed from the distinctive viewpoint of a monarch and her consort.
Now the Queen, nonetheless head of state and 5 years from her personal century, as obligation dictates must endure the rest of her reign with out her “energy and keep”.