On what was surely an emotional day, Queen Elizabeth II made her first public appearance in nearly five months on March 29. The occasion was somber: a memorial service for her late husband, Prince Philip.
Last April, the Duke of Edinburgh died at Windsor Castle just two months shy of his 100th birthday. The royal couple had been married for 73 years. At the time of Prince Philip’s death, strict COVID procedures were still in place, meaning only 30 people could attend the duke’s funeral. Images of the black-clad queen sitting alone as her husband was interred touched hearts across the globe.
Yesterday, the royal family and other dignitaries gathered for a much larger service to celebrate Prince Philip’s life. Buckingham Palace reported that the 95-year-old queen had been very active in planning this event. In addition to senior royals, attendees included foreign royalty, friends of the duke, military figures, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, and more than 500 representatives of the charities and organizations that Prince Philip supported.
Per NBC, David Hoyle, the Dean of Westminster, called the Duke of Edinburgh, “A man of rare ability and distinction, rightly honored and celebrated, he ever directed our attention away from himself.”
Prior to this event, there had been widespread concerns about the queen’s health. In October 2021, she spent a night in the hospital for an undisclosed illness and then tested positive for the coronavirus in February 2022. She has been advised to rest since her hospital stay, prompting the cancellation of numerous planned engagements.
Yet, Britain’s longest-reigning ruler was not going to miss her husband’s memorial. She arrived through a side entrance in Westminster Abbey, supported by a walking stick and her son Prince Andrew.
Philip and Elizabeth were married at Westminster in 1947. Six years later, she was crowned the queen. As there was no clear precedent for the duke, he focused on environmental issues and helping youths. He guided his wife by helping her shape the monarchy to the sociopolitical changes after World War II. This included the loss of much of Britain’s vast empire.
Prince Philip has been described as a royal modernizer, and this spirit is reflected in his grandson. Prince William shares the vision of moving the royal family into the future rather than reverting to the past.