The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge brought Prince George and Princess Charlotte to celebrate their great-grandfather’s life and legacy.
Dozens of royals from around the world, 700 charities and organizations, and a sea of close family and friends gathered at the memorial service for Prince Philip. The event, held at Westminster Abbey Tuesday, March 29, was a true celebration of the late Duke of Edinburgh’s life and legacy.
Queen Elizabeth II also made the one-hour journey from Windsor Castle to celebrate and remember her husband of 73 years. After pandemic restrictions affected the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral last year, it was finally a chance for the monarch to honor her consort surrounded by those closest, and in the way she originally wanted.
Dressed in moss green and aided by a walking stick, the queen made a quiet entrance to the service through a side door of the church, the famous Poets Corner, which allowed a shorter walk from her car to her seat. Controversially, she was escorted by Prince Andrew, marking the disgraced Duke of York’s first public appearance since settling his underage sexual assault civil case in February.
Inside, they were joined by other senior members of the royal family. Prince William and Duchess Kate—freshly back from their royal tour of the Caribbean—brought children Prince George and Princess Charlotte. The Duchess of Cambridge wore a black-and-white polka-dot dress by Alessandra Rich for the service, which she accessorized with a black hat by Lock & Co.
Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, took their seats in the same row as the queen. Surrounding the pair were family members including Prince Edward and Sophie, Countess of Wessex, Princess Anne and husband Vice Admiral Sir Tim Laurence, Princess Eugenie and Jack Brooksbank, and Princess Beatrice and Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi. Prince Philip’s other great-grandchildren, Savannah and Isla Phillips, and Mia Tindall, were also in attendance.
More than 30 members of foreign royal families were also present, including the King and Queen of Belgium, the Queen of Denmark, the Grand Duchess of Luxembourg, Prince Albert of Monaco, the King and Queen of the Netherlands, the King and Queen of Spain, the King and Queen of Sweden, the Crown Prince of Bahrain, and a dozen more.
The 1,800-strong congregation also included members and veterans of the military community, staff from Prince Philip’s charitable patronages, and representatives from every major faith community.
The 45-minute ceremony—and its choice of hymns and readings—was meticulously chosen by Queen Elizabeth, who was “actively involved” in every detail of the plans, a Buckingham Palace spokesperson told Monday evening.
And there were sentimental touches too. Orchids that were featured in the monarch’s 1947 wedding bouquet were included in flowers arrangements at the service, all designed in a patriotic red, white, and blue display. Spiky blue sea holly represented Philip’s naval career and affection for the sea.
A number of requests Prince Philip had made for his own funeral were also finally realized today, though the famously humble duke would have likely not appreciated any fuss made over his achievements and accolades. Much of the service saw the Duke of Edinburgh celebrated for his “gifts of character, for his humor and resilience, his fortitude and devotion to duty.” The congregation also heard of his “service as a consort, liege man of life and limb, and of earthly worship to Her Majesty.” Attendants also remembered his “energy and spirit of adventure” when it came to his work with young people to improve their chances in life and to help the environment.
Doyin Sonibare, a Gold Award holder from The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award—a youth achievement award program he founded in 1956—paid tribute to one of Philip’s proudest accomplishments. “So how did I get my first job at 18 without any professional experience? It all linked back to the award, which actually links back to the golden word: opportunity,” she shared. “On reflection, I never thought I could do half of the things I have done in the last decade, yet I’ve been able to do so because of the opportunities presented to me.”
The Dean of Windsor also paid tribute to the Duke of Edinburgh, telling the congregation, “Through his passionate commitment, he drew others to himself in admiration and respect and, in the case of those who lived and worked most closely to him, genuine love.”
He added, “Unlike most of us, he was one of those rare people who remained true to, and guided by, what you might call ‘an inner spiritual compass’; a sense of being called to play a part in the making of a God-intended world.”