On Tuesday, Queen Elizabeth II overcame recent health difficulties to attend a Westminster Abbey thanksgiving ceremony for her beloved husband, Prince Philip, entering the enormous church by a side entrance to minimize the distance to her seat.
The monarch walked inside the abbey on the arm of her second son, Prince Andrew, before distancing herself from him and walking to her seat alone, allaying fears about unexplained “mobility difficulties” that had curtailed her public appearances in recent months. After Andrew resolved a lawsuit related to his friendship with the late convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, her choice of escorts will be perceived as a show of support for him.
Elizabeth skipped a Commonwealth Day ceremony at Westminster Abbey earlier this month after recovering from COVID-19, but she kept her other scheduled engagements. The 95-year-old monarch was heavily involved in the planning of the service, which featured hymns and tributes from charities that Philip supported. Due to pandemic regulations, such touches were not permitted during his burial last year.
The ceremony on Tuesday drew over 1,800 family members and guests. Last year, just 30 people were permitted to attend the burial, which was held under severe lockdown regulations, forcing the queen to sit alone in a black mask as she mourned the passing of her 73-year-old husband. The Duke of Edinburgh, Philip, died on April 9th, at the age of 99.
Philip’s service to the queen, his commitment to environmental conservation, and his commitment to educating young people with the skills they need to thrive through his Duke of Edinburgh Award were all remembered by the Rev. David Conner.
“Through his ardent devotion, he pulled people to himself in admiration and respect, as well as true affection in the case of those who lived and worked closest to him,” Conner said.
There were also more subtle accolades bestowed on the royals through their wardrobe choices. Elizabeth, Princess Anne, and Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, wore dark green gowns that matched Philip’s livery color of Edinburgh Green.
Doyin Sonibare, 28, was also dressed in green, having achieved the Duke of Edinburgh Award, which was established by Philip to educate young people confidence and life skills through outdoor activities and community service. Since 1956, more than 6.7 million youths and young adults have participated in the program.
Sonibare provided the main homage to Philip, praising him for designing a program that enabled her to earn her first job, proceed to university, and now pursue a Ph.D. in sickle cell research.
The curriculum culminates in an overnight trek, which terrified a youngster from East London who had never camped before and was afraid of climbing steep slopes.
“I kept thinking I’d slip up, slide down the mountain, and Doyin would be out,” she explained. “Fortunately, that didn’t happen to me…. Even though I was 18 and worried about my future at the time, I recall thinking to myself, if I can complete this journey, I can accomplish anything.”
Winners of the program’s highest distinction, the Gold Award, as well as members of junior cadet groups, lined the doors of Westminster Abbey, as requested by Philip.
There were additional prayers delivered in honor of Philip’s religion, and the assembly sang “Guide Me, O Thou Great Redeemer,” which was not allowed during his funeral due to limitations prohibiting singing. The queen joined in on the singing.
The royal family of the United Kingdom was there, with Prince Charles sitting opposite his mother and Prince William seated behind her. The Duke and Duchess of Sussex were the most noteworthy absentees.
Prince Harry has filed a claim against the Home Office after learning that he will not have the same level of security while travelling from his new base in the United States, despite offering to pay for it.
Harry wants to bring his children Archie and Lilibet to the United Kingdom, but his legal representatives say it would be too dangerous without police protection.
Many of Philip’s friends were there, as were some 30 foreign royals, including Prince Albert of Monaco, Denmark’s Queen Margrethe, and King Felipe VI and Queen Letizia of Spain.
The service was short — Philip was notorious for not making a big deal out of things — and the queen left the cathedral less than 50 minutes after entering. It did, however, provide Britain with an opportunity to express gratitude to the man who vowed to be the queen’s “liege man of life and limb” during her coronation in 1953.
It was also a family gathering, demonstrating the Windsors’ ability to keep together even amid difficult times.
Andrew’s performance demonstrated that he is still a family member, despite the fact that the scandal surrounding his ties to Epstein compelled him to stand down from official activities. The prince settled a lawsuit filed by an American woman who claimed she was forced to have sex with him when she was 17 earlier this month. Andrew is adamantly opposed to the charges.
On Twitter, royal expert Peter Hunt stated, “This was the queen praising Andrew after he spent millions to a lady he claims he has no recall of ever seeing.” “Either Charles and William did not interfere –- or they did intervene and failed to prevent the prince from playing such a prominent part at his father’s burial ceremony.”