For a family that resides in castles, there’s nothing more the British royals enjoy than country living. And what screams posh English countryside more than a vintage Land Rover? Being carried to your own funeral in one.
Buckingham Palace released pictures this week of the personalised Land Rover Defender truck that will carry Prince Philip’s coffin from the private chapel in Windsor Castle to St George’s Chapel tomorrow.
Ever the planner, it turns out Queen Elizabeth II’s husband spent 16 years modifying his own hearse, making the finishing touches to the vehicle in 2019.
The single-cabbed truck, which includes an open-top rear section for the coffin, is painted in military green, an emblem of the former military man’s love of service. It also has matching green wheel hubs and a black grille, all created at the company's factory in England.
The vehicle will be followed in tomorrow's procession by his four children on foot, with Prince Charles and Princess Anne in the front row and their younger siblings Prince Andrew and Prince Edward following.
Three of the Duke of Edinburgh's many grandchildren will also walk on foot behind the hearse tomorrow: Prince William, Prince Harry, and their cousin Peter Philips, Princess Anne’s eldest child. Philips will walk between the apparently feuding brothers, in a move that made headlines this week.
Prince Philip collaborated with Land Rover on the project from as early as 2003, when he turned 82-years-old, changing the paint colour and designing the rear section to fit his exact measurements. It also features grips to prevent his coffin from slipping.
He was a long-time driver of Land Rovers and issued the company a royal warrant, which means they can advertise that they supply goods to the royal family, over 40 years ago.
Prince Philip spent the past 16 years converting this Land Rover into a hearse. It will carry his coffin at Saturday's funeral. pic.twitter.com/XI668bDy35— Ian Fraser (@Ian_Fraser) April 15, 2021
Thierry Bolloré, Jaguar Land Rover’s chief executive, spoke recently about the duke's close relationship with the company.
"The duke was a tremendous champion for design, engineering, and technology. During his visits to our sites, he engaged with hundreds of employees and demonstrated his impressive knowledge and deep interest in vehicle design, engineering, and manufacturing,” he said.
Originally, the hearse was meant to carry the coffin from central London to Windsor, a 35km journey, but the pandemic curtailed many of the original plans for the day.
While the duke requested a ceremonial funeral, as Princess Diana had, the guest list had to be squeezed down to just 30 people.
All of his children, grandchildren, and their spouses will be in attendance, as well as a few close friends. The very pregnant Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, won’t be travelling from California on medical advice.
The queen also decided against the wearing of military uniform for the event, which many suspect had something to do with Prince Andrew’s indefinitely postponed promotion to admiral following his controversial association with sex-trafficker Jeffery Epstein, as well as the fact that Prince Harry was stripped of his military titles when he stepped away from royal duties last year.
Prince Philip also hand-picked nine objects that will sit on cushions atop the altar for the funeral, choosing specific medals and decorations, his Royal Air Force wings, and insignia from Greece, where he was born.
The BBC will air coverage of the funeral, which starts at 3pm tomorrow.