Queen supported by Royal Family and Commonwealth as she says goodbye to beloved husband

Prince Philip’s funeral ‘difficult day’ for Queen says expert

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Her Majesty chose the photo to share with the public ahead of the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral at 3pm today. Taken by her daughter-in-law the Countess of Wessex in 2003, it shows the Queen and Philip relaxing in the sunshine in the Coyles of Muick on the Balmoral estate. And a photograph taken of the Queen and a silhouetted Philip arriving for the State Opening of Parliament in 2004 beautifully illustrates his continuing presence in her life. The monarch will say goodbye to her husband at today’s funeral at St George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle.

The Queen, supported by her family, will then continue with her duties in the coming days and weeks.

She is expected to spend more time working from Windsor in widowhood, even after the pandemic is over.

Yesterday, she took calls from Commonwealth leaders offering their condolences.

The 94-year-old monarch spoke to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the Governor General of Australia, David Hurley.

Mr Trudeau’s office said: “The Prime Minister noted the special relationship the Duke of Edinburgh maintained with Canada over the years, including through more than 60 visits and close ties with the Canadian armed forces, and conveyed to Her Majesty that the thoughts of Canadians are with her and all members of the Royal Family in this time of grief.”

The Royal Household also completed a final rehearsal for today’s service, using stand-ins for members of the family.

Her Majesty was seen driving out of Windsor Castle to take her two corgis for a walk in nearby Frogmore Gardens.

She and the rest of the Royal Family will be in a period of mourning until Thursday, but they have carried on with official work deemed appropriate.

Today, with television cameras and the eyes of the world upon her, the Queen will focus on saying farewell to the love of her life. Britain will hold a national minute’s silence at 3pm to mark the start of the funeral.

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More than 700 Armed Forces personnel will take part in the ceremony.

The service will be scaled down to 30 mourners because of Covid guidelines.

As a mark of respect, Heathrow Airport has suspended all flights landing or taking off for six minutes.

Windsor Castle is on the flight path for planes using the airport but none will be allowed overhead during the funeral.

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Philip’s “unwavering loyalty” to the Queen and his “courage, fortitude and faith” will be celebrated during the ceremony.

The Rt Revd David Conner, the Dean of Windsor, is expected to say: “With grateful hearts, we remember the many ways in which his long life has been a blessing to us. We have been inspired by his unwavering loyalty to our Queen.”

The service will reflect Philip’s wartime service in the Royal Navy as well as his roots as a Greek prince raised initially in the Orthodox tradition.

A choir reduced to four because of Covid restrictions will sing the beautiful and haunting Russian Kontakion of the Departed, a funeral anthem famously used in the opening scenes of the classic 1965 film Doctor Zhivago. The German side of his family will also be represented at the funeral.

Three distant relatives – Bernhard, Hereditary Prince of Baden; Prince Donatus, Landgrave of Hesse; and Prince Philipp of Hohenlohe-Langenburg – are expected to be among the guests.

It is thought the Queen may host a post-funeral reception this afternoon for up to 15 mourners at the castle, in line with Covid guidelines limiting the numbers of mourners at a wake.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, who will take part in the service, urged the public ­yesterday to show their support for the Queen during the ceremony.

The Most Revd Justin Welby said people should not judge the monarch on her “external” appearance at the service, adding it would be an “anguished moment” for her.

He said: “We really have to avoid judging from anything external. She is the Queen.

“She will behave with the extraordinary dignity and extraordinary courage that she always does.”

Mr Welby, who will give a blessing during the service, said people of all faiths should show sympathy to the Queen after losing her husband of seven decades. He said: “She is saying farewell to someone to whom she was married for 73 years. I think that must be a very profound thing in anybody’s life.

“I hope the whole nation, if they believe in that, pray for her, and if they don’t, they sympathise in their hearts, offer their ­condolences to her and they hope for her to find strength in what must be an anguished moment.”

Philip will be interred in the Royal Vault in the chapel at the end of the service.

Buckingham Palace said the Queen faced “some very difficult” decisions as she selected the limited number of guests allowed to attend, and had tried to ensure all branches of the Duke’s family were there.

Meanwhile, Mike Tindall has paid tribute to the Duke as a “devoted family man who we will forever miss but always love”.

The ex-England rugby player is married to the Queen and Philip’s granddaughter Zara Tindall.

Yesterday, he posted a picture from the Royal Family’s personal albums of the Duke with the Tindalls’ daughter Mia. The image, taken by the Duchess of Cambridge, showed Mia and her ­great-grandfather eating as they sat together on a bench in front of a wooden cabin. A half-full pint of beer can be seen

perched nearby. Mike wrote in a heartfelt post on Instagram yesterday: “It’s been a very sad week.

“But it has given us time to reflect on great memories and stories, both personal and shared.

“A devoted family man who we will forever miss but always love.”

The Princess Royal’s daughter Zara, who gave birth to her third child just three weeks ago, will also be at St George’s Chapel for the service.

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