Did Queen Elizabeth cry at Prince Philip's funeral? Revisiting those few times the monarch was moved to tears
For better or worse, the Crown has landed on my head... The trouble is, I have the sort of face that if I'm not smiling, everyone says, ‘Oh, isn't she cross?’ These words from ‘The Crown’ hit right in your chest as the monarch faces one of the biggest tragedies in her life. Her partner for over 70 years — Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh — breathed his last on April 9, 2021, and was laid to rest in a low-key funeral to be held on April 17, 2021.
“It is with deep sorrow that Her Majesty The Queen has announced the death of her beloved husband, His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. His Royal Highness passed away peacefully this morning at Windsor Castle...” the statement released on a chilly afternoon read. Queen Elizabeth was seen wiping away tears as she mourned alone in St George's Chapel during her husband's Windsor Castle funeral.
With grief and sorrow in her eyes, the Queen bowed her head in tribute as she accompanied her beloved husband's casket on its final journey. Pictures from the moment shattered hearts on social media. As the world mourns the loss, let's take a walk down the lane to revisit the few moments she was moved to tears in the past.
Does the Queen really not cry?
Grief affects different people differently. Some sulk, or become morose, or weep and bawl out loud. There are a few who show no emotion at all. Queen Elizabeth II stands in the last category.
Over the years, the Queen dedicated her life to the Crown and matured herself into a resolute persona. During troubled times and great adversity, she set a great example of leadership with her unwavering strength and stoicism. Known for her solid-color overcoats and matching hats, the Queen was the most admired person in 2014 but has been often dubbed “cold” for not showing her emotions in public, one of them being when she attended Princess Diana's funeral.
Although infrequent, the Queen does have feelings and has been seen to cry in public on occasion, especially when she attended the opening of the Field of Remembrance at Westminster Abbey in 2002. Here are all the times the monarch was moved to tears…
The Aberfan Tragedy – 1966
It was October 1966. After a period of heavy rain, tip number seven had risen to 111 feet and it came tumbling down like a black avalanche that consumed rocks, trees, farm cottages, following its murderous descent into the school. The tragedy swooped down on the coaling mining village of Aberfan, South Wales killing 116 children and 28 adults. In The Crown, Queen struggled with her emotions:
Elizabeth: “Did you weep?”
Philip: “Did I weep? I might have wept, yes. The fact is anyone who heard that hymn today would not just have wept but would've been broken into a thousand tiny pieces.”
One day after the final victim was recovered from the debris, the Queen and Prince Philip travelled to pay their respects to the deceased and their loved ones. Even though she was late, she appeared visibly shaken as she walked around the site of the tragedy. According to those close to her, the Queen's delayed response to the disaster remains her biggest regret as Sovereign. Since 1966, she has returned to the village more than any other member of the Royal Family.
The Decommissioning of Royal Yacht Britannia – 1997
In recent years, Queen's public image has noticeably softened. In 1997, when she attended the decommissioning of the Royal Yacht Britannia, she shed a tear during a ceremony in Portsmouth.
She was captured wiping her eyes in a photo as her beloved yacht was taken out of service after 22 years. Having personally launched the vessel in April 1953, she was deeply attached to it. In fact, there were deep-seated memories associated with it as it carried her family on official and private family voyages. The boat was valued at around $83 million (£60 million) was close to her heart.
A letter was discovered in which senior Buckingham Palace official Sir Kenneth Scott wrote to the Cabinet Office, detailing how the Queen “would very much welcome” a new yacht but added the last thing I would like to see is a newspaper headline saying “Queen Demands New Yacht”.
Field of Remembrance – 2002
Back in 2002, a photograph was taken while Queen Elizabeth II observed Remembrance Day without her mother who died on March 30, 2002, at age 101. The Queen Mother traditionally carried out the ceremony at the Field of Remembrance.
Usually reserved, the Queen couldn't help but be moved to tears when she attended the opening of the Field of Remembrance at Westminster Abbey in 2002. Tears rolled down the Queen's cheeks and she then attended a short service in St Margaret's Church.
After the Queen Mother's death, the palace released a statement saying: “The Queen, with the greatest sadness, has asked for the following announcement to be made immediately: her beloved mother, Queen Elizabeth, died peacefully in her sleep this afternoon at Royal Lodge, Windsor. Members of the royal family have been informed.”
90th Anniversary of the Gallipoli campaign – 2005
A record crowd took part in a ceremony to mark the 90th anniversary of the Gallipoli campaign and the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh attended the event at Westminster Abbey. A photograph captured showed Queen Elizabeth II as she wiped a tear and observed a two-minute silence at the Sandringham War Memorial in Norfolk.
The Gallipoli campaign, which began on April 25 1915, saw several troops lose their lives as they landed on the peninsula in one of Britain's worst military disasters. A report by the Guardian reads that some 21,000 British and Irish troops were killed along with 9,000 French troops.
Australian war correspondent and historian Charles Bean coined the term Anzac to mean Australian and New Zealand army corps. The campaign ended in stalemate and the Anzac forces were evacuated in December 1915, the Guardian report read.
A service for fallen soldiers of Duke of Lancaster regiment – 2016
During a touching service for the fallen soldiers of the Duke of Lancaster regiment, the Queen unveiled a new memorial. She laid a wreath at the Lion of England bronze statue at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire after a service. After the regiment was set up in 2006, over 32 soldiers who fought in Iraq and Afghanistan died.
Her personal attachment to the Duke of Lancaster regiment was visible as she could be seen getting emotional. As more than 250 guests looked on, a tear rolled down the Queen's right cheek and she was captured wiping it away with her gloved hand and keeping her eyes closed. The wreath she laid carried a simple message: “In memory of the glorious dead. Elizabeth R.”
Stonemason Nick Johnson and sculptor Georgie Welch crafted the lion in tribute to the origins of the regiment from clay and the latter said, “The Queen said it was very life-like and that it had a real look of power. She also said it looked fearless.”
Funeral Of The Countess Mountbatten Of Burma – 2017
Queen Elizabeth II attended the funeral of Patricia Knatchbull, Countess Mountbatten of Burma at St Paul's Church, Knightsbridge on June 27, 2017, in London, England. Patricia, Countess Mountbatten of Burma daughter of Louis Mountbatten, 1st Earl Mountbatten of Burma and third cousin of Queen Elizabeth II died aged 93 on June 13, 2017.
Wearing the Courtauld Thomson Scallop-Shell Brooch, which belonged to Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother, the monarch could be seen very emotional and her eyes were welled up in several photos taken on that day.
Prince Charles, who called Patricia his “very special godmother” and someone he had “known and loved ever since I can first remember”, also shed a tear before he addressed the crowd of mourners.
Annual Remembrance Sunday Service – 2017
The Queen could be seen getting emotional at the annual Remembrance Sunday Service at The Cenotaph on November 12, 2017.
Dressed in black, the monarch was joined by Prince Philip, the Duchess of Cornwall and the Duchess of Cambridge on the balcony above the Whitehall memorial for the annual ceremony. The year marked the first time that Queen Elizabeth II watched the service from a balcony rather than lay her own wreath. instead Prince Charles, Prince of Wales laid her wreath on her behalf.
An aide close to the royal family said the Duke was determined to attend the ceremony, and the Queen chose to be by her husband's side. “The Queen wishes to be alongside the Duke of Edinburgh and he will be in the balcony,” said the source.
Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh's Funeral – 2021
Queen Elizabeth II was seen in a poignant photo sitting alone in a mask during the funeral of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, at St George's Chapel at Windsor Castle on April 17, 2021 in Windsor, England. Born June 10, 1921, in Greece, he served in the British Royal Navy and fought in WWII. He served as Prince Consort to Queen Elizabeth II until his death on April 9, 2021, months short of his 100th birthday.
Covered in his personal standard, the Duke of Edinburgh's casket carried his sword, naval cap, and a wreath of flowers as pallbearers placed him on a custom-made Land Rover hearse (that he had helped design) in Windsor Castle's quadrangle. The Queen was driven to St George's Chapel in the company of a lady-in-waiting. She later sat alone at the front of the church, bowing her head in respect during the national minute's silence. A photo captured her wiping away a tear.
The 30 royal mourners who were allowed to attend the service in person quietly made their way out of the church after Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, pronounced the Blessing.
When Queen and Prince Philip wed in front of 2,000 people at Westminster Abbey in 1947, King George VI said, “One day Lilibet will be queen and he will be consort. That’s much harder than being a king, but I think he’s the man for the job.” Keeping his word, Philip kneeled before her and swore to be her “liege man of life and limb” at the Queen’s coronation in 1953.
At the end of the night of her 50th wedding anniversary, the Queen fondly spoke of her husband with profound and uncharacteristic emotion: “He is someone who doesn't take easily to compliments but he has, quite simply, been my strength and stay all these years. I, and his whole family, and this and many other countries, owe him a debt greater than he would ever claim, or we shall ever know.”