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Duke of Edinburgh’s love of the sea and navy feature in his funeral

The Duke of Edinburgh's love of the sea and lifelong association with the Royal Navy featured in his funeral at St George's Chapel, in hymns, prayers and music.

The Duke of Edinburgh’s love of the sea and lifelong association with the Royal Navy featured in his funeral at St George’s Chapel, in hymns, prayers and music.

Sailors and Royal Marines were part of the 750-strong military presence paying their respects to Philip in the grounds of Windsor Castle.

In the lead-up to the funeral service, detachments drawn from units which had a link with Philip were positioned on the grass in the Quadrangle, which was bathed in spring sunshine on Saturday.

The duke’s coffin was decorated with his Admiral of the Fleet Naval Cap and sword, and carried by Royal Marines up the steps of the chapel.< The service was peppered with naval imagery, including in a prayer by the Dean of Windsor, who conducted the service.

He said: “We praise thy holy name for thy servant Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, who has left us a fair pattern of valiant and true knighthood.”

“Grant unto him the assurance of thine ancient promise that thou wilt ever be with those who go down to the sea in ships and occupy their business in great waters.”

Music at the funeral, chosen by Philip, included the hymn Eternal Father, Strong To Save – traditionally associated with seafarers and the maritime armed services.

Despite the choir being made up of only four people, due to Covid regulations, their voices filled the chapel.

The first verse of the hymn paints a dramatic picture of divine help needed for those who find themselves in trouble on the waters.

It reads: “Eternal father, strong to save, Whose arm doth bind the restless wave, Who bidd’st the mighty ocean deep, Its own appointed limits keep; O hear us when we cry to thee, For those in peril on the sea.”

Philip also asked for My Soul Give Praise Unto The Lord Of Heaven, Psalm 104, to be included in the ceremony, and for it to be set to music by William Lovelady.

It tells of “Lord of heaven, in majesty and honour clothed … seas he made to be its robe” and waters rising above the highest mountain.

At the end of the service, the buglers of the Royal Marines sounded Action Stations, which is played on a warship to signal all hands should go to battle stations and is sometimes featured at funerals of naval men.

The buglers also sounded the Last Post to signify “a soldier has gone to his final rest.”

Leading the buglers was Sergeant Jamie Ritchie from Dundee, who performed on several occasions for the duke during his time as Captain General Royal Marines, a ceremonial title he held for more than six decades.

The duke also presented 31-year-old Sergeant Ritchie with his medal for service in Afghanistan.

Speaking ahead of the funeral, Sergeant Ritchie said: “Even though he was a man of few words, the great thing about Prince Philip is how relatable he made you feel.”

“He made you feel calm and welcome in his presence.” Such was Philip‘s passion for the military that, had he not become the Queen’s husband, some believe Philip would have been First Sea Lord, the professional head of the Royal Navy.

Philip joined the Navy after leaving school and in May 1939 enrolled at the Royal Naval College in Dartmouth, where he rose rapidly through the ranks.

His flourishing naval career came to an end in 1951 when he stepped down from his active role in the forces to fulfil his duty as the Queen’s consort when she acceded to the throne the following year.

 

 

 

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