The Royal Family has revealed the vehicle the Duke of Edinburgh designed to take him on his final journey: a customised Land Rover hearse in military green.
Ever considered the practical Prince, the Duke of Edinburgh chose a modified Land Rover, an iconic British brand, painted per the Consort’s request in dark bronze green, the colour often used for military Land Rovers, which was revealed this week at Windsor Castle, Berkshire.
Prince Philip oversaw the modifications of the Land Rover Defender TD5 130 chassis cab vehicle, which was made in 2003 at Land Rover’s Solihull factory, when the Duke turned 82. He had insisted on designing it himself, with The Sun reporting he had often joked to Queen Elizabeth II that when he died: “Just stick me in the back of a Land Rover and drive me to Windsor.”
According to Sky News, Prince Philip spent the next 16 years making adjustments to the hearse in collaboration with Land Rover, with the final modification made in 2019 when he was 98.
The design includes an open-top rear and silver “stops” with rubber grips for securing his coffin. The Prince also ordered a spare, just in case.
The Duke had a love of the vehicle, owned by Jaguar Land Rover, a subsidiary of Tata Motors, lending his Royal Warrant of Appointment — a mark that a company regularly supplies goods to senior members of the Royal household — to Land Rover some 40 years ago.
Apart from their functionality, utility vehicles possibly held a special place in Philip’s heart, given that his future wife, then Princess Elizabeth, trained as a mechanic in the Auxiliary Territorial Service (ATS) during the Second World War, working on the engines of trucks from which the Land Rover later partly evolved.
The Land Rover will take him on his final journey to St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle on Saturday afternoon.
Originally, the Land Rover bearing the Prince, formerly of Greece and Denmark, would travel the 22 miles from Wellington Arch in London to Windsor, so that members of the public could have seen the Duke’s work. But the pandemic curtailed those plans. Only 30 people allowed in total at the funeral, but the proceedings will be televised.
The Defender will take the Duke of Edinburgh’s coffin through the castle grounds to the steps of the chapel, which in recent years saw the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle and that of Princess Eugenie and Jack Brooksbank.
The procession will be headed by senior armed forces and military figures, followed on foot by members of the Royal Family. The Queen will be driven in the state Bentley.
All members of the royal household will be wearing morning coats with medals or day dress rather than uniforms, to avoid a dilemma over how Prince Andrew and Prince Harry should dress, given both stepped back from military duties, Harry in line with his wish to no longer be a working Royal and Andrew after withdrawing from public duties following the scandal of his friendship with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.
Several media outlets have reported that Prince William and Prince Harry, who travelled from his home in California for the funeral, will not be walking side by side, but with their cousin Peter Phillips, the eldest child of Princess Anne, between them. The Guardian suggests it signals a continuing rift between the brothers after Harry and his wife Meghan’s interview with Oprah Winfrey where the pair accused a member of the Royal Family of being racist.
Royal Marines will carry the coffin to the steps of the chapel, where they will stand at 3 pm for the national minute’s silence, and will then be received into the church by the Dean of Windsor and the Archbishop of Canterbury.
Those who knew him or met him have shared heartwarming anecdotes about Prince Philip since his death was announced last Friday.
Former palace spokeswoman Ailsa Anderson told PEOPLE magazine: “When he spoke to you, you thought you were the only person who mattered in the world. It was like a lighthouse beacon shining onto you, and you feel like the only person he wanted to talk to.”
Others have related how the Duke was down to earth and sought to put people at their ease. The Bow Group, the UK’s oldest conservative think tank, shared a memory from its President Norman Tebbit of the state dinner he and his wife had attended at Buckingham Palace.
Lord Tebbit described how his late wife Margaret was fretting over her difficulty using cutlery, after being paralysed as a result of the IRA bombing the Grand Brighton hotel during an attempt to assassinate Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher during Conservative Party conference in 1984.
“She was even more horrified on arrival to find that she had been placed next to Prince Philip,” Tebbit said, adding: “However, the minute the first course arrived he handed his cutlery to the footman and then ate the entire meal with his fingers. Of course Margaret could then do the same. Yes it was planned in advance but I probably think it was planned by him.”