The strange parallels between Prince Philip and Prince Albert, two Royals who died in Windsor Castle
Unlike the Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Albert had little time to prepare for his funeral
In a notable coincidence, the last significant royal death at Windsor Castle was that of Albert, Prince Consort - Prince Philip's great-great-grandfather and someone who also worked tirelessly for his Queen and his adoptive country.
Unlike the Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Albert had little time to prepare for his funeral. He died at the age of only 42 and it was up to the widowed Queen Victoria to interpret his wishes.
Victoria herself would not be there, following the convention that funerals were only for men and that women were too frail to hide their grief in public. Instead, she went, weeping heartbroken, to Osborne House on the Isle of Wight, where she did not hide her grief in private and where her 40-year-old grief began.
She left her preparations for the kind of funeral Albert would have loathed. The mourners wore long black coats and wide-brimmed hats with “weeping”, which Albert had considered exaggerated a few years earlier in the aftermath of Victoria's aunt, the Duchess of Gloucester.
At the direction of Victoria, the rooms and corridors of Windsor Castle were covered with black curtains. Her only admission was to have Albert's funeral in broad daylight at noon. Earlier funerals were held at dusk with torches that lit the processional path.
Prince Philip's body is carried by soldiers of the 1st Battalion Grenadier Guard from the state entrance of the palace. Philip was Colonel of the Grenadiers for 40 years from 1975. Albert held the same position, and the regiment formed an honor guard at the entrance to the chapel.
Albert's hearse was pulled by six black horses that wore black feathers. The only flowers were from Albert's daughters, Princesses Alice, Helena and Louise, who had made a wreath of moss and violets, while Victoria's tribute was a simple bouquet of violets with a single camellia in the middle.
It is believed that a Queen's wreath is carried on Prince Philip's coffin today.
The hearse was followed by empty funeral wagons representing the Queen, the Prince of Wales, her cousin the Duke of Cambridge, and his mother Augusta, the Duchess of Cambridge.
How to watch Prince Philip's funeral live
Prince Albert's Funeral, 1861: The procession in the nave of St. George's Chapel at Windsor Castle
In contrast to Prince Philip's funeral, few immediate members of the royal family were in attendance. Those present arrived at the west door in front of the Cortège, but followed the prince's coffin through the chapel. The main mourners were 20-year-old Albert Edward, Prince of Wales, and his younger brother, Prince Arthur, 11 years old. (In another context Arthur, later Duke of Connaught, would live with him until the age of 91 and among the mourners. In 1942, the 20-year-old Prince Philip of Greece was also buried in St. George's Chapel and served by the Navy on leave.)
Three of the Duke of Edinburgh's German ties will be present at his funeral. Albert only had one blood relative present, his older brother, Ernest Duke von Sachsen-Coburg and Gotha. Both Albert and Philip were perceived as outsiders. The Queen's cousin, Margaret Rhodes, recalled that many of his critics in royal circles in the early days believed he was "a foreign invader for the goodies".
A century earlier, the British treated Albert with the same distrust, which was reflected in the Doggerel: "He comes to take" for better or for worse "/ England's fat queen and England's thicker wallet."
Prince Albert was treated with suspicion when he first became a member of the family
Albert, like Philip, had a loyal following of his personal collaborators. At the head of the carriage procession from the State Apartments were his two valets and two hunters (soldiers), followed by his lawyer, a librarian, and several pharmacists and surgeons. In today's procession, both sides of the Duke and two valets will also take part in the procession to the chapel with his children and grandchildren.
As today, the royal mourners did not wear uniforms. Instead, they put on black evening coats with white ties, except for Prince Arthur, who was in Highland attire. In the chapel they were given the usual mourning shawls and armbands.
In the meantime, the funeral procession made its handsome progress from the upper ward of the castle via the Norman Tower and down the hill to St. George, just as Prince Philip wanted it to be. Then as now, only a handful of spectators saw the impressive sight of the military knights' houses in the subdistrict. In the distance they could hear the tiny cannons being fired by the horse artillery on the long walk. Today the artillery cannon marks the beginning and the end of the one-minute silence.
Prince Philip's pallbearers are pulled by the Royal Marines, the regiment he served as captain general for 64 years. Prince Albert's pallbearers were made up of close associates such as Sir Charles Phipps, which went against the custom of having public figures.
Covid restrictions have limited the choir serving the Duke to just four people, one soprano and three lay employees. The music had to be modified to suit this small group, as well as the lack of a full congregation to sing the hymns. The choice of music in 1861 was very fitting given the Prince Consort's musical tastes. Psalm 39 ("I said I will watch out for my ways") was sung by Albert himself to an adaptation of a Beethoven theme.
A hymn by Martin Luther was sung to match the tune Gotha, and Albert's body descended to the entrance to the crypt as a chorale was sung, which was also composed by the prince. The choristers had already broken into tears during the Requiem, while the two princes also wept silently. One report claimed that "brave men sobbed like children".
One of Albert's chaplains, Arthur Stanley, later recalled, "I don't think I've ever seen or will see anything as influential."
Similarly, the service to the Duke of Edinburgh, with its stripped-down simplicity and many personal details, will no doubt long be remembered as one of the most memorable royal funerals.
Ian Lloyd is the author of The Duke: 100 Chapters in the Life of Prince Philip (History Press, £ 16.99). Buy yours for £ 13.99 from books.telegraph.co.uk or by calling 0844 871 1514
In this article:
Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh
Albert, Prince Consort
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