Prince Philip funeral: Why there is no eulogy at the ceremony that has subtle nod to Diana by the choir
The Order of Service for Prince Philip's scaled-down funeral at St George's Chapel in Windsor Castle on Saturday stated that there won't be a eulogy or any readings by royal family members. However, a song included in Princess Diana's funeral service 24 years ago will reportedly be performed by a choir at the funeral today on April 17, before the actual 'Order of Service' commences.
"The Order of Service for the funeral was agreed with The Duke of Edinburgh during his lifetime, and reflects The Duke's close military affiliations, and personal elements of His Royal Highness's life," a statement from Buckingham Palace explained. According to the release, the service will be led by the Dean of Windsor, the Right Reverend David Conner. Prayers will be also be said by the Dean and the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby.
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The Duke of Edinburgh’s Funeral will begin with a national minute's silence at 3pm BST.— The Royal Family (@RoyalFamily) April 17, 2021
The service will be conducted by the Dean of Windsor alongside the Archbishop of Canterbury. The hymns & readings have been chosen by The Duke. Visit https://t.co/hPKbNfhS1b for details. pic.twitter.com/CtOiaiN2qd
The funeral will feature a selection of music that was reportedly chosen by Prince Philip himself. A choir of four singers will deliver renditions in his honor, but the congregation will not be permitted to join in due to Covid-19 precautions. According to the BBC, the choir will perform several songs before the actual commencement of the service, which will include 'Rhosymedre' by Vaughn Williams. The song is a subtle nod to Philip's late daughter-in-law Princess Diana, as it was also played at her funeral in 1997. The emotional British folk song was also played at the weddings of Prince Harry and Prince William.
Here is the full list of songs that will be performed before the Order of Service:
Schmucke dich, o liebe Seele BWV 654 - Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)
Adagio espressivo (Sonata in A minor) - Sir William Harris (1883-1973)
Salix (The Plymouth Suite) - Percy Whitlock (1903-1946)
Berceuse (Op 31 No. 19) - Louis Vierne (1870-1937)
Rhosymedre (Three Preludes founded on Welsh Hymn Tunes) - Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-1958)
It's worth noting that Philip and Diana shared a special bond and he made an extra effort to make her feel accepted into the Royal Family after she married Prince Charles in 1981. The Duke wrote several letters to his daughter-in-law when her marriage began to fail, and reportedly signed his letters to her by writing, "with fondest love, Pa." According to former Royal butler Paul Burrell, the duke "did more trying to save Charles' marriage to Diana than his son."
According to the release, the Duke of Edinburgh requested that Psalm 104 should be set to music for the Order of Service -- it is the same piece that was sung at a concert celebrating the Duke of Edinburgh's 75th birthday. Furthermore, the choir will also sing "Eternal Father, Strong to Save," a song traditionally associated with the Royal Navy that also reflects Philip's military service and his lifelong support of the Armed Forces.
To conclude the service, the buglers of the Royal Marines will sound "Action Stations," which is traditionally an announcement made on a naval warship to signal that all hands should go to battle stations. Philip, who reportedly requested that the battle cry be performed at his funeral, served as Captain-General of the Royal Marines for more than six decades.
Here is the Order of Service led by the Dean of Windsor, slated to follow the song performances:
- The bidding (delivered by the Dean)
- Eternal Father, strong to save (sung by the choir)
- The first lesson (Ecclesiasticus 43. 11-26, delivered by the Dean)
- The Jubilate (sung by the choir)
- The second lesson (John 11. 21-27, delivered by the Archbishop of Canterbury)
- Psalm 104 (performed by the choir)
- The Lesser Litany (performed by the choir)
- Invitation to prayer (the responses)
- The collect (delivered by the Dean)
- The prayers (delivered by the Archbishop)
- The anthem (performed by the choir)
- The commendation (delivered by the Dean)
- The styles and titles of Prince Philip (delivered by Garter Principal King of Arm)
- A lament (performed by Pipe Major of The Royal Regiment of Scotland)
- The Last Post (performed by the Buglers of the Royal Marines)
- A period of silence
- Reveille (performed by the State Trumpeters of the Household Cavalry)
- Action Stations (performed by the Buglers of the Royal Marines)
It's worth noting that several modifications have been made to the service arrangements due to the ongoing health crisis. Queen Elizabeth and the other 29 attendees are expected to wear masks and be seated at least six feet apart.
"Ironically, it is probably how he would have liked," former palace spokeswoman Ailsa Anderson told People. "No fuss, no bother. Right through his life, he never knew what all the fuss was about."
That said, the lack of a eulogy at a royal funeral is not unprecedented. Queen Elizabeth II's mother, the Queen Mother, also chose not to have a eulogy at her 2002 funeral service.
On the other hand, Princess Diana's brother Charles Spencer delivered an emotional eulogy at her funeral. He memorably said, "It is a point to remember that of all the ironies about Diana, perhaps the greatest was this — a girl given the name of the ancient goddess of hunting was, in the end, the most hunted person of the modern age."
Prince Philip's coffin will be reportedly be accompanied by his wife, four children, eight grandchildren, and other loved ones at his funeral. A Buckingham Pace spokesman said that the Queen, who was married to the Duke of Edinburgh for 73 years, reportedly had to "make some difficult decisions" about who could be there in keeping with the 30-person limit. "We are dealing with a family funeral and at its heart, it is still a family event," the spokesman added, according to People.