Fine funeral ceremony was a fitting tribute to a duke who spurned sentimentality

News Letter editorial of Monday April 18 2021:

Monday, 19th April 2021, 12:01 am
Updated Monday, 19th April 2021, 1:16 am
News Letter editorial

The funeral of the Duke of Edinburgh was not quite the end of an era, but it was a farewell to a man who epitomised so much of the increasingly distant Twentieth century.

The Queen herself, who on Wednesday will turn 95, has also symbolised the remarkable period between the 1920s and the present day.

But Prince Philip is one of a dwindling band of men who served in the Second World War. You have to be at aged least 94 to have seen combat in that conflict. In fact, he was one of an even smaller band of veterans who were adults at the very beginning of that immense global struggle.

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It is no surprise that such a brave and dutiful man spurned emotion. He did not want there to be a sermon or a eulogy, and was said to have had little patience for long services.

The funeral ceremony was a memorable one.

The royal family led by example, as it typically tries to do, and observed the social distancing that now millions of bereaved people have had to do after the departure of loved ones during the pandemic.

The duke, one of the best connected people in the world had a mere 30 relatives in attendance at his Windsor Chapel send-off. Military units with links to him stood in formation, as a Land Rover hearse transported his coffin to St George’s Chapel, after music including a brass rendition of I Vow To Thee My Country.

During the service four choristers, standing apart, sang beautifully. The Queen sat alone, but as always on such occasions gave no trace of emotion.

There was no hint of sentimentality because there never is at royal ceremonies. What a striking example they set to an often mawkish age.

Reports this weekend said that the Queen will hand over increasing numbers of duties to Prince Charles, who is now into his three-score years and ten. Her Majesty will remain in the thoughts of the nation in the coming months.

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