Toughest day for a monarch all alone
THEY were right. This was a royal funeral like no other before.
The Duke of Edinburgh was yesterday laid to rest in a poignant service which perfectly highlighted his role as his family’s lynchpin for almost three-quarters of a century.
Covid restrictions meant that the mourners wore masks and social distancing was enforced.
And not one of the royals wore military uniform as part of a carefully- constructed arrangement overseen by the Queen to banish family tension and controversy — at least for a day.
But this impeccably-conducted funeral could not disguise that this was — in a very real sense — a family affair.
No-one watching can have failed to recognise the raw grief of the Queen.
It was her toughest day since the death of her beloved father George VI 69 years ago — her rock Prince Philip no longer there to support her.
Yesterday she was not simply the eternally-composed monarch.
This was a widow, alone after 73 years of marriage, battling to contain her agony.
And significantly, for the first time, it revealed that the Royal Family are not afraid to show their emotions in front of millions.
When we saw Prince Charles with a tear in his eye this was not the heir to the throne, with all the vast responsibility that entails.
This was an eldest son mourning his father.
The military procession ran like clockwork from the Grenadier Guards and Royal Marines to the buglers sounding the heartbreaking Last Post.
Hearing it must have strained the Queen’s emotions to the limit.
Throughout she reminded the watching millions once again what a life dedicated to service really means.
The monarch was magnificent — bringing together humanity and poise as never before.
She showed incredible stoicism while paying farewell to the man who has been by her side for most of her 94 years.
DID HIM PROUD
Yesterday she said goodbye to him with the utmost dignity, just as she has led by example from the very beginning.
Princes William and Harry behaved like brothers.
And the sight of the pair chatting in the aftermath of the service will raise hopes they can be reconciled, despite the different paths they have chosen to take.
Their grandfather was a perfectionist.
And if he could have seen the funeral, which he planned so carefully, even he would have had no complaints.
They all did him proud.
The Royal Family now enters a new era.
But the eternal values embodied by Prince Philip will ensure the monarchy endures and flourishes for generations to come.
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