Every country in the Commonwealth believes that they have a special relationship with the Royal Family. And I believe that to a large extent, each nation does have its own unique and special relationship with the royals. Prince Philip visited Canada over 70 times and greatly admired the Canadian Armed Forces. And as a Canadian, it was lovely to see that relationship acknowledged at the ceremony.
The smaller, Covid-appropriate funeral held on Saturday, 17 April, was a poignant and fitting tribute to a dedicated royal consort. Limited to only 30 guests, we watched as the Prince’s wife, children, grandchildren, and cousins celebrated his life and service. Philip planned every element of the ceremony, including designing the Land Rover that carried his coffin.
There was no sermon and no discussion of his dedicated military service. However, it was still highlighted by his musical selections. The inclusion of “The Last Post” and “Action Station” was incredibly touching. As with many Commonwealth countries, Canadian Remembrance Day ceremonies include “The Last Post”, and it was the perfect final reminder of his military career and his military appointments.
Prince Philip held 11 different Canadian military appointments. His last visit to Canada in 2013 was to present new regimental colours to the 3rd Battalion of the Royal Canadian Battalion. He had ensured that several of his orders and insignia were on display in the chapel during the funeral. Included in those on display were his Canadian Forces Decoration, the Canadian Order of Military Merit, and the Order of Canada. Given how many orders and honours he received in his lifetime, I appreciated that they were included.
Brigadier-General Paul Doyle represented the Canadian Armed Forces. Given that we are all under such tight restrictions with Covid, I thought it was wonderful that a Canadian could be included in the procession. (He did not attend the service in the chapel but only walked in the procession.)
Although it was not a long funeral, it was a touching and moving service. Knowing that it was exactly as he planned makes it that much more special, and I’m thankful that Canada was included.
Shortly after the funeral, there was a commemorative service held in Ottawa to celebrate Prince Philip’s life and relationship with Canada.