He could now be lying in state in Westminster Hall with many thousands filing past his coffin day and night, as they did before the last funeral of a royal consort, Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, in 2002.
Instead, in line with his own ‘no fuss’ mantra, Prince Philip is at rest in the small private chapel at Windsor Castle, visited by just a handful of family and friends.
But at least we are all able to have a proper look at this charming, little-known royal sanctuary and also to hear about it from the man who designed it — the Duke himself.
At the same time, we can also hear his considered views on life and death, religion, royal funerals, royal marriages — and everything else from garden design to Middle East peace talks (not to mention his irritation with pop concerts, ‘bug hunters’, plans for a Windsor oil rig and certain modern architects) — in a unique, unseen television portrait of the man himself.
In one of the last (and most extensive) interviews he ever gave, the Duke was in irrepressible form as he also offered us what now amounts to a guide to all the key elements of Saturday’s funeral.
Prince Philip will be laid to rest in the small private chapel (pictured) at Windsor Castle which he helped design
It is part of a fascinating new BBC film packed with engaging glimpses of the Duke, many of which have never been seen before.
The Duke: In His Own Words features no ‘experts’, no grainy newsreel clips — just pure, undiluted Prince Philip.
These interviews were originally filmed some years ago as part of an acclaimed BBC series on Windsor called The Queen’s Castle. However, only a portion of the original material was included in that series.
To mark his passing, the producer, Andy Goodsir, has gone back through this mine of original footage to produce an entirely new tribute programme.
Narrated by the BBC’s Mishal Husain, it focuses not on the castle but on the Duke himself. At which point, I must declare an interest, since I have written this programme and the interviewer was me.
However, I can honestly say that these were some of the most enjoyable interviews I can recall, for the simple reason that the Duke was so passionate about every aspect of what will now be his final resting place (and was also very funny when I occasionally veered off into ‘damn fool question’ territory). Take the private chapel, for example. After the devastating fire of 1992, which destroyed so much of this ancient castle, the Queen put the Duke in charge of restoration. Except, he wanted to make the castle even better than it was.
Royal sanctuary: The Duke of Edinburgh conducted a personal tour of the private chapel he created
Facing his coffin is be a stained-glass window which depicts a range of motifs including a fire-fighter battles 1992 blaze in one pane
So, the glum Victorian kitchen conversion went back to its true medieval splendour.
The Duke showed me the remains of an old portcullis he had unearthed and then steered me through a side door.
‘When I got back after the fire, and was looking at all this destruction,’ he recalled, ‘it struck me that you could just fit a chapel into here. Because before that the chapel was also a passageway.’ Now, it is a separate place of peaceful contemplation, unseen by visitors.
Facing the Duke’s coffin is the stained-glass window which he himself conceived and designed — although, typically, he tried to dodge the credit. ‘It’s not mine,’ he said, until I reminded him that I had actually seen his design, in his own hand, in the archives.
‘Well I suggested this sort of general idea, yeah,’ he conceded, as he explained the thinking behind the story which is now told in beautifully crafted panes of glass: ‘Well, the idea was that the bottom would be the fire and the fire-fighters and then the smoke would turn into trees . . .’
Among the greatest challenges facing the Duke was all the conflicting advice after the fire. ‘Country Life sponsored a public competition for redesigning the place,’ he remembered, but the designs were all ‘universally ghastly’.
Facing the Duke’s coffin is the stained-glass window which he himself conceived and designed — although, typically, he tried to dodge the credit
Prince Philip (pictured chatting with Robert Hardman) on a tour of Windsor Castle and the Great Park
He was similarly dismissive about a proposal to search for oil beneath the Windsor gardens. ‘Well yes it’s true. It all seemed to be absolutely dotty that somebody wanted to put an oil rig on the East Terrace,’ he said, not that he let the idea go any further. Besides, he had gone to great trouble to redesign the East Terrace gardens himself: ‘There used to be a bronze figure of a chap strangling a snake or something in the middle. So I took it away and designed that fountain, which I think’s rather nice.’
Among the more poignant elements in this weekend’s funeral procession will be the Military Knights of Windsor, a band of retired old soldiers who — much like the Chelsea Pensioners — live inside the castle and attend official events (in uniform). Explaining that they bring ‘a bit of pageantry’, the Duke went on: ‘What they’re supposed to do of course is to pray. Whether they actually do that or not, I’m not so sure. They used to have Naval Knights but they behaved so badly that they were eventually closed down!’
Behind the chapel is St George’s House, the religious conference centre he founded. It has even been involved in top-level Middle East peace discussions between Muslim, Christian and Jewish faith leaders, thanks to the Duke’s friendship with Prince Hassan of Jordan. ‘He said: “Surely, somehow or other we can diffuse it”— as we’re all religions of “the book’’ as they put it.’ The meetings went on, the Duke revealed, for 25 years.
He also drove me all over the estate where he was Ranger of the Great Park longer than anyone in history.
People look at flowers placed outside Windsor Castle as mourners were warned not to come during the funeral on Saturday due to Covid
He showed me his farms (and his farm shop), entire avenues of new trees (which landed him in trouble with ‘bug hunters’ when he removed the old ones) and his ingenious barriers to keep out illegal pop concerts.
‘This is the family burial plot. You can see where the Duchess of Gloucester was buried the other day,’ he explained as we passed Frogmore where fresh earth lay on the grave of the late duchess.
As the Duke himself pointed out, it is precisely this personal dimension — the christenings, weddings and funerals — which gives Windsor its vitality.
‘I think that’s what gives it its attraction and its strength — a community and a living organism inhabiting this ancient establishment,’ the Duke explained.
‘William the Conqueror built his castle up here and it’s been occupied virtually ever since.’
That it is not just surviving but positively thriving is thanks in no small part to the subject of this film. Indeed, few people in Windsor’s entire 1,000-year history have left quite such a mark on the place as the man whom this great fortress and its titular family will salute on Saturday afternoon.
A specially modified Land Rover, Naval procession and royal mourning: Prince Philip’s funeral details are released by palace
- 2.40pm: Coffin emerges from State Entrance of Windsor Castle
The duke’s coffin, accompanied by the Dean of Windsor and the Lord Chamberlain, will be moved to the State Entrance of Windsor Castle by a Bearer Party of The Queen’s Company, 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards.
The coffin will emerge and the Bearer Party will place it onto a specially modified Land Rover, which Philip helped to design, to transport it to St George’s Chapel.
- 2.45pm: The procession leaves for St George’s Chapel
The procession from the state entrance to the West Steps of the chapel will take eight minutes.
The Prince of Wales and members of the royal family will take part in the procession on foot, immediately behind the duke’s coffin, together with staff from Philip’s household.
The route of the procession will be lined by representatives drawn from the Royal Navy, the Royal Marines, the Highlanders, 4th Battalion Royal Regiment of Scotland and the Royal Air Force.
Minute guns will be fired by the King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery from the east lawn of Windsor Castle for the duration of the procession, and the Curfew Tower Bell will toll.
- 2.53pm: The Land Rover reaches the West Steps of the chapel
A Guard of Honour and Band from The Rifles will receive the coffin at the foot of the West Steps, with the national anthem being played as the coffin enters Horseshoe Cloister.
A bearing party of Royal Marines will carry the coffin up the steps and pause for the minute’s silence.
- 3.00pm: National minute of silence
Following the minute’s silence, the Dean of Windsor, together with the Archbishop of Canterbury, will receive the coffin at the top of the West Steps.
In keeping with coronavirus guidelines to limit guests inside the chapel, most of the procession will not enter the chapel, except for members of the royal family, and the duke’s private secretary Archie Miller Bakewell.
The funeral service will begin as the coffin enters St George’s Chapel.
- The Duke: In His Own Words is now on BBC iPlayer. Broadcast details to be confirmed.
William’s tribute to Philip was not a dig at Harry and the royals are ‘putting their differences aside’ to focus on the Duke’s funeral which Meghan wanted to attend, says her friend Omid Scobie
Prince William’s tribute to his grandfather Prince Philip was not ‘a dig’ at his younger brother and the siblings are ‘unified’ despite what it might look like to the outside world, Harry and Meghan’s friend Omid Scobie claimed today.
Mr Scobie also insisted that Meghan ‘wanted’ to attend the Duke of Edinburgh‘s funeral at Windsor on Saturday amid claims in the US she skipped it to avoid being ‘centre of attention’ and despite believing they ‘had a special bond and she adored him.’
Ms Markle has also said she is ‘ready to forgive’ the Royal Family despite telling Oprah they were racist towards Archie and ignored her claims she was suicidal, a friend exclusively told DailyMail.com.
In two statements with very different tones released 30 minutes apart yesterday, Prince William praised his grandfather’s lifetime of service to ‘Queen, country and Commonwealth’ before Harry declared: ‘He was my grandpa: master of the barbecue, legend of banter, and cheeky right ’til the end’.
William’s words focused on duty, continuing Philip’s work and the need to support the Queen, with some royal watchers pondering if this was, in part, a criticism of his brother who quit as a frontline royal and emigrated to the United States with his wife.
Harry is understood to have chosen to self-isolate at Frogmore Cottage at Windsor Castle where the Queen is based, rather than at Kensington Palace where his brother lives with his wife and three children.
But Mr Scobie, a journalist and friend of the Sussexes who wrote their biography Finding Freedom, told Good Morning Britain that he believes William was not attacking his younger brother, and their statements were just an expression of their ‘different personalities’.
He said: ‘I think for us on the outside it might look like that but I think we have to remember that that is William’s role, he is the future head of state and so he is really thinking about getting back to work. I don’t think it was anything aimed at his brother.
Harry and Meghan’s friend Omid Scobie has insisted that Harry and William are ‘unified’ despite two very differing statements in tribute to Prince Philip. Omid also claims that Meghan would have come to the UK if she wasn’t pregnant
Prince William gave this moving tribute to his ‘grandpa’ Prince Philip, who died on Friday at the age of 99, pledging to continue his work and support the Queen. But some suggested it was a dig at his brother
Prince Harry’s tribute to his grandpa Prince Philip, who he called a ‘legend of banter’, was released via the Archewell charity he set up with Meghan, not Buckingham Palace
Prince Harry, Prince William and Prince Philip attend the 2015 Rugby World Cup Final match between New Zealand and Australia at Twickenham Stadium on October 31, 2015 in London. Harry is back in London ahead of his grandfather’s funeral this Saturday
‘In fact I think across the board in the royal family right now everyone is really looking at putting differences aside to focus on what matters and that’s focusing on Prince Philip’s life and legacy but also rallying around the Queen during her time of need.
He added: ‘I think if there’s anything that’s sort of beautiful about this week and in the days leading up to the funeral it’s about seeing a family unified in a way that we haven’t seen in so many years’.
Sources close to the couple said former Suits actress Meghan wanted to join Harry but was advised against travelling by her physician because she is around six months pregnant with their second child – a daughter, due this summer.
But friends claimed to DailyMail.com today that Ms Markle stayed back in Montecito, California, while Prince Harry flew to London because she ‘doesn’t want to be the centre of attention’ at Prince Philip’s funeral.
Mr Scobie insisted her decision not to come was because of advice from her doctor.
He said: ‘Despite wanting to be there, unfortunately due to a lack of medical clearance, Meghan was unable to come here’.
William, 38, described the Duke of Edinburgh as an ‘extraordinary man’, spoke of how touched he was by his kindness to Kate and vowed to ‘get on with the job’ as Philip would have wanted.
Harry light-heartedly summed up his grandfather as ‘master of the barbecue, legend of banter, and cheeky right ’til the end’.
The royal brothers are the first of Philip’s grandchildren to honour his memory publicly, after his four children each paid tribute at the weekend.
Their statements were released independently. William’s was issued by Kensington Palace, Harry’s was posted on the website home page of his new US-based organisation, Archewell.
But there was a sign the estranged brothers are at least willing to put disagreements aside for the sake of their grandfather’s memory by co-ordinating the release of their tributes via Buckingham Palace.
William’s tribute was issued at 2pm, followed by Harry’s at 2.30pm. Praising his grandfather’s sense of duty and service, William, who is at his Anmer Hall home in Norfolk with his family, said: ‘My grandfather’s century of life was defined by service – to his country and Commonwealth, to his wife and Queen, and to our family.’
He also alluded to the support that Philip had given him in the dark days following the death of his mother in 1997.
Philip took William and Harry under his wing at Balmoral, taking them out stalking and shooting, and offering to walk beside them behind their mother’s funeral cortege.
‘I feel lucky to have not just had his example to guide me, but his enduring presence well into my own adult life – both through good times and the hardest days,’ William said.
Prince William’s tribute
‘My grandfather’s century of life was defined by service – to his country and Commonwealth, to his wife and Queen, and to our family.
‘I feel lucky to have not just had his example to guide me, but his enduring presence well into my own adult life, both through good times and the hardest days.
‘I will always be grateful that my wife had so many years to get to know my grandfather and for the kindness he showed her.
‘I will never take for granted the special memories my children will always have of their great-grandpa coming to collect them in his carriage and seeing for themselves his infectious sense of adventure as well as his mischievous sense of humour!
‘My grandfather was an extraordinary man and part of an extraordinary generation.
‘Catherine and I will continue to do what he would have wanted and will support the Queen in the years ahead.
‘I will miss my Grandpa, but I know he would want us to get on with the job.’
Prince Harry’s tribute
‘My grandfather was a man of service, honour and great humour. He was authentically himself, with a seriously sharp wit, and could hold the attention of any room due to his charm – and also because you never knew what he might say next. He will be remembered as the longest reigning consort to the monarch, a decorated serviceman, a prince and a duke.
‘But to me, like many of you who have lost a loved one or grandparent over the pain of this past year, he was my grandpa: master of the barbecue, legend of banter, and cheeky right ’til the end.
‘He has been a rock for Her Majesty the Queen with unparalleled devotion, by her side for 73 years of marriage, and while I could go on, I know that right now he would say to all of us, beer in hand, ‘Oh do get on with it!’ So, on that note, Grandpa, thank you for your service, your dedication to Granny, and for always being yourself.
‘You will be sorely missed, but always remembered – by the nation and the world. Meghan, Archie, and I (as well as your future great-granddaughter) will always hold a special place for you in our hearts. Per Mare, Per Terram.’
The Duke of Cambridge also released a new photograph, taken by his wife Kate, of a then two-year-old Prince George with his great-grandfather in one of his beloved carriages on the Sandringham Estate in Norfolk
William also thanked his ‘Grandpa’ for the ‘kindness’ he had shown her (pictured during the Trooping the Colour parade on June 17, 2017) since they became a couple in 2003
Harry is staying at Frogmore Cottage, the couple’s former home in the grounds of Windsor Castle. They spent £2.4m of taxpayers’ money refurbing it but then gave it back after emigrating
And he made a point of singling out how kind Philip had been to his wife Kate. He made clear that he and his wife intended to follow in his footsteps by supporting the Queen and devoting themselves to their public duties.
‘My grandfather was an extraordinary man and part of an extraordinary generation,’ William wrote. ‘Catherine and I will continue to do what he would have wanted and will support the Queen in the years ahead. I will miss my Grandpa, but I know he would want us to get on with the job.’
Harry, who enjoyed an equally warm relationship with their grandfather, described him as a man of ‘service, honour, and great humour’.
He wrote: ‘He was authentically himself, with a seriously sharp wit, and could hold the attention of any room due to his charm – and also because you never knew what he might say next.’
The prince, 36, said his grandfather would be remembered as the longest reigning consort in British history, ‘a decorated serviceman, a prince and a duke’ adding: ‘But to me… he was my grandpa: master of the barbecue, legend of banter and cheeky right ’til the end.’ In a nod to Philip’s well-known impatience, Harry added: ‘He has been a rock for Her Majesty The Queen with unparalleled devotion, by her side for 73 years of marriage, and while I could go on, I know that right now he would say to all of us, beer in hand, “Oh do get on with it!”
‘So, on that note, Grandpa, thank you for your service, your dedication to Granny, and for always being yourself.’
Harry said he, Meghan, Archie – and Philip’s future great-granddaughter they are expecting this summer – will ‘always hold a special place for you in our hearts’.
He concluded with the Latin motto of the Royal Marines, ‘Per Mare, Per Terram’, meaning ’by sea, by land’. Philip was, for 64 years, Captain General of the Royal Marines, a role he handed down to Harry when he retired in 2017. Although the role was initially held in abeyance after Harry and Meghan announced their plans to quit royal duties, the Queen decided she had no choice but to ask him to give it up this year. Harry was said to be deeply angered by the decision.
Yesterday the Daily Mail revealed how Philip regretted his grandson’s decision to quit royal life and thought it was ‘not the right thing either for the country or themselves’.
He thought their decision to do a tell-all interview with Oprah Winfrey was ‘madness’ and that ‘no good would come of it’.
But biographer Gyles Brandreth said Philip also believed Harry was a ‘good man’ who had to live his own life.