Army engineers rushed to prepare the modified Land Rover Prince Philip helped design as his own hearse just hours after he was admitted to hospital in February, it was revealed today.
A team from the Corps of the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (REME) were deployed from their base at MOD Lyneham, Wiltshire, when the Duke of Edinburgh went into the King Edward VII’s Hospital in Marylebone in February.
Philip is believed to have worked with soldiers from REME to modify two Land Rover Defenders to carry his coffin ‘some time ago’, having famously told his wife the Queen: ‘Just stick me in the back of a Land Rover and drive me to Windsor.’
Once he fell ill two months ago Army mechanics were sent to replace parts and run safety checks on the vehicles – one black and one green – at an unnamed site where they have been kept in storage for several years, according to the Daily Telegraph.
Philip, Colonel-in-Chief of REME, is believed to have designed the vehicles personally, including the option of an open roof for use in good weather. One MoD source told MailOnline that the vehicle is also likely to have been armour-plated.
The Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral has been massively scaled back because of the Covid-19 pandemic. A special Land Rover would have carried the Duke’s body 23-miles from Wellington Arch at Hyde Park Corner to St George’s Chapel in the grounds of Windsor Castle.
Now it will only travel from the castle to the church, where only 30 guests are allowed.
Prince Phillip’s Land Rover Defender 130 Gun Bus being driven around Sandringham in Norfolk by Princess Anne’s husband Timothy Laurence in 2020. A team of Army engineers are said to have been working on one modified by Philip to be a hearse as soon as he was admitted to hospital
Prince Philip is seen in a Land Rover talking to Queen in 2018, having already planned and designed the unusual hearse that would carry him
Prince Philip was Colonel-in-Chief of the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (REME), who are based at MOD Lyneham in Wiltshire (pictured)
Having spent most of his life breaking the royal mould, the Duke of Edinburgh will do so again one last time this Saturday when he takes his final journey on the back of a Land Rover he helped design as a hearse
Princes William and Harry and other senior members of the Royal Family will follow on foot as it driven to nearby St George’s Chapel before Saturday’s funeral. The Queen will not take part in the procession.
Prince Philip’s final nod to Australia: How Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral will pay tribute to the country he first visited as a teenager in the Royal Navy
Prince Philip first sailed into Sydney Harbour on March 14, 1940, as an 18-year-old on the British battleship HMS Ramillies. He is in the front row, second from the left.
An Australian representative will stand in front of St George’s Chapel for Prince Philip’s funeral as part of the Duke of Edinburgh‘s wish to recognise the country he first visited as a teenager in the Royal Navy.
Prince Philip, who died peacefully in his sleep aged 99 on Friday, will be farewelled at the 15th century chapel at Windsor Castle on Saturday.
Australia’s Defence Advisor in the UK, Commodore Guy Holthouse will reportedly be positioned in front of the chapel as part of Prince Philip’s final homage to Australia.
Mr Holthouse met the Queen as recently as March 31 at an event marking the 100th anniversary of the Royal Australian Air Force.
Representatives of other Commonwealth nations including Canada, New Zealand and Trinidad and Tobago will also guard the chapel.
Prince Philip, who was due to turn 100 on June 10 this year, visited Australia on more than 20 occasions during his life.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced he will not be present to allow as many of Prince Philip’s family as possible to attend amid Covid-19 restrictions, which limit the number of guests to 30.
In a royal funeral like no other, the Queen and her family will wear face masks and maintain social distancing at the service, which will be televised live.
But a Buckingham Palace spokesman insisted that the send-off still reflects the personal wishes of Prince Philip who had meticulously planned his funeral.
The spokesman confirmed that it would not be a state occasion, which are normally reserved for sovereigns, but a ceremonial royal funeral in line with the Queen Mother’s in 2002.
‘This event will be much reduced in scale with no public access. In line with Government guidelines and public health measures, there will be no public processions and the Duke’s funeral will take place entirely within the grounds of Windsor Castle,’ he said.
‘The plans have been given final approval by the Queen and reflect appropriately Government advice. Despite these necessary changes, they still very much reflect the personal wishes of the Duke.
‘Although the ceremonial arrangements are reduced, the occasion will still celebrate and recognise the Duke’s life and his more than 70 years of service to the Queen, the UK and the Commonwealth.’
Buckingham Palace will release full details of the service and guest list on Thursday, when it is understood there will be a dress rehearsal.
The Duke currently lies at rest in the private chapel of Windsor Castle. His body will not lie in state – where members of the public would have been able to view his coffin.
On Saturday, the Duke’s coffin, accompanied by the Dean of Windsor and the Lord Chamberlain, will be moved to the State Entrance of Windsor Castle by a Bearer Party of The Queen’s Company, 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards.
The party will place the coffin in the Land Rover – believed to be a modified Defender 130 Gun Bus that was commissioned in 2005 – at 2.40pm.
A senior Palace official said: ‘The Duke of Edinburgh had a hand many years ago in the design of these vehicles’. He added that there were two Land Rovers for ‘belt and braces’.
On the grass in the Castle’s Quadrangle will be representative detachments drawn from Philip’s military special relationships. The Quadrangle will also be lined by the Household Cavalry and The Foot Guards.
At 2.45pm the Band of the Grenadier Guards, of which Philip was Colonel for 42 years, will lead the eight-minute procession to St George’s Chapel.
They will be followed by the Major General’s Party, and then the Service Chiefs, reflecting His Royal Highness’s close relationship with the military.
The Prince of Wales and other senior Royals will follow the Land Rover bearing the Duke’s coffin – draped in his personal standard, a wreath of flowers and his naval cap and sword – on foot.
Philips’ private secretary, Archie Miller Bakewell, one of his protection officers, two of his pages and two of his valets will bring up the rear of the procession.
Buckingham Palace announced that a ‘specially modified’ Land Rover Defender, which the Duke himself helped design, will carry his coffin on its final journey on Saturday (Picture of the type of vehicle it could be)
The Band of the Grenadier Guards, of which Philip was Colonel for 42 years, will lead the procession to St George’s Chapel, followed by the Major General’s Party, and then the Service Chiefs, reflecting His Royal Highness’s close relationship with the military
In a Royal funeral like no other, the eight-minute procession will begin at the state entrance of Windsor Castle, ending at nearby St George’s Chapel
Minute guns will be fired by the King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery from the east lawn of Windsor Castle for the duration of the procession, and the Curfew Tower Bell will toll.
The procession will end at nearby St George’s Chapel for the service, which will begin with a national minute’s silence at 3pm.
The no-frills service will be attended by just 30 members of the Royal Family – including the Duke’s children and grandchildren.
Prince Harry will fly from the Sussexes’ Californian mansion but Meghan, 39, who is heavily pregnant has been advised by her doctor not to travel to the UK.
The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby and David Conner, the Dean of Windsor, are expected to officiate at the service.
After the service, the duke will be interred in the Royal Vault of the chapel.