The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall have put any tension over Prince Andrew’s role at yesterday’s memorial behind them at a special ceremony to mark the opening of the new London offices for Facebook owner Meta.
Prince Charles and Camilla were photographed arriving at the new eco-friendly offices at King’s Cross where they were given a tour of the building as well as high-tech demonstrations.
Gadgets demonstrated to the Royal couple include the company’s Meta Quest virtual reality headsets, Portal – its video-calling device and WhatsApp chatbots – what the company calls social impact services that can combat social issues such as loneliness.
Their Royal Highnesses also heard from the Meta team about the work being done to support the people of Ukraine.
Prince Charles and Camilla were present for a special ceremony today to mark the opening of the new London offices for Facebook owner Meta
The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall seem to have put any tension over Prince Andrew’s role at yesterday’s memorial behind them
It comes as MailOnline revealed the moment Andrew shocked the world by seizing the limelight at a memorial service for his late father Prince Philip – as insiders say he ‘insisted’ on playing a leading role.
The royal family has faced a furious backlash over the duke’s hijacking of the ceremony, which was meant to focus on the life of Prince Philip, nearly a year after his death aged 99, and subsequent funeral that was restricted to just 30 guests due to Covid.
But Prince Charles and Camilla were all smiles as they visited the newest part of Meta’s largest engineering hub outside the US where more than 4,000 employees are based across various sites in London.
After their tour of the offices, built using ‘leading sustainable building techniques’, the couple formally opened the building before they departed.
As part of the special ceremony their Royal Highnesses also heard from the Meta team about the work being done to support the people of Ukraine
Footage shows the Duke of York appearing to refuse to hand over the Queen to the Dean of Westminster as they entered Westminster Abbey.
Instead, he clung to the arm of 95-year-old mother, whose attendance had only been confirmed by the Palace hours earlier due to her recent mobility issues. He then escorted her to her seat in full view of the guests and world’s media.
The Dean was forced to awkwardly lead the pair across the great chamber, despite Andrew being expected to follow behind them, under an earlier plan on ensuring the aging monarch was able to attend the event.
Prince Charles and Camilla were all smiles as they visited the newest part of Meta’s largest engineering hub outside the US where more than 4,000 employees are based across various sites in London
Critics are painting the move as a brazen attempt by the 62-year-old duke to slide back into the spotlight, hoping it might lead to a ‘mission creep’ return to public life or even a ‘springboard’ to appear at the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee in June.
The Westminster Abbey manourvere comes after the duke was stripped of his military hours and royal patronages and told by his brother Charles to ‘disappear’ from public life following his multi-million pound payout to Virginia Roberts to settle her rape claim against him, which he has consistently denied.
Even his siblings were said to be ‘dismayed’ by the stunt, with them earlier hoping ‘common sense’ would prevail and he would accept playing a backroom role in the ceremony.
Royal sources claimed they did not want him to guide her down the aisle, but the Queen ‘couldn’t say no to her favourite son’ and he ‘insisted’ after spending months with her at Windsor while the other royals were busy with offical duties.
Andrew has been forced to lurk in the shadows after details of his close friendship with the billionaire paedophile Jeffrey Epstein and his alleged madam Ghislaine Maxwell were exposed.
Yet yesterday’s antics appear to show the Duke was unafraid to thrust himself centre stage once more, while the world watched.
Footage shows the Duke of York appearing to refuse to hand over the Queen to the Dean of Westminster as they entered Westminster Abbey
The Dean was forced to awkwardly lead the pair across the great chamber despite Andrew being expected to follow behind
Her Majesty stands to sing surrounded by her family with the Duke of York also on the front row.From left to right, front row: Queen Elizabeth II, the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall, the Princess Royal, Vice Admiral Sir Tim Laurence, the Duke of York, The Earl of Wessex, the Countess of Wessex, Lady Louise Mountbatten-Windsor and Viscount Severn. (Second row left to right) The Duke of Cambridge, Prince George, Princess Charlotte, the Duchess of Cambridge, Peter Phillips, Isla Phillips, Savannah Phillips, Mia Tindall, Zara Tindall and Mike Tindall
Officials are wary of softening of the position of no return to royal duties. One spoke of a fear of ‘mission creep’ – that having taken so prominent a position at the memorial, Andrew may start appearing at other events such as the Jubilee celebrations
One angle of the small procession into the chamber shows the Dean of Westminster a few metres in front of Her Majesty and her son as they walked the short distance from her state Bentley to their front row seats.
The camera caught the moment David Hoyle was expected to take over leading the Monarch but was left awkwardly in front of her as Andrew appeared to refuse to hand her over.
They walked in a triangle formation up the aisle of the Abbey – past gobsmacked other members of the Royal Family – before the Duke finally let her go when he reached his seat.
The Queen, using a walking stick that has been with her in recent months amid mobility issues, then walked over to her own chair – raising questions over why her son felt the need to escort her.
A family source said senior royals – including Prince Charles and Prince William – were ‘dismayed’ by events and Andrew’s decision to put himself ‘front and centre’ of the service had caused ‘consternation’.
They said: ‘It would be a great shame if the service was overshadowed by all of this. There is a strong sense of regret that this has happened.’
Another said they were not willing to let him walk her down the aisle to her chair, but the Monarch ‘couldn’t say no’ to her ‘favourite son’.
The insider told the Sun: ‘Maybe the duke just doesn’t get it. He just doesn’t understand. The public will always understand why he attended the service, but by putting himself front and centre, he has misread the situation.’
The Family was believed to have ‘reluctantly’ accepted he would travel with the Queen to the 30 miles from Windsor Castle to London because they live so close to each other.
But they had hoped ‘common sense’ would prevail and he would not seek to play a prominent role in his first public appearance since he struck the out-of-court settlement with Epstein victim Ms Roberts.
The Queen arrives at the service holding the Duke of York by the elbow with her left hand and her stick with the right
Andrew releases his mother from his arm as she walks the final steps to her seat unaided
The Queen walks towards her seat at Westminster Abbey after being accompanied by Prince Andrew yesterday
Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Andrew, right, arrive for a Service of Thanksgiving for the life of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, at Westminster Abbey in London on Tuesday
Queen Elizabeth II, the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall, the Princess Royal, Vice Admiral Sir Tim Laurence. (second row left to right) The Duke of Cambridge, Prince George, Princess Charlotte, the Duchess of Cambridge during a Service of Thanksgiving for the life of the Duke of Edinburgh
Duke of York in profile: From Falklands War hero to controversial royal who settled sex case for £12million
Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of York arriving to attend a church service in Hillington, Norfolk, on January 19, 2020
During the Duke of York’s life, the ‘Playboy Prince’ has earned high regard for his bravery during the Falklands War and served as a trade envoy, but he is best known as the man whose reputation was left in tatters amid the Jeffrey Epstein sex scandal. As a young man, he was one of the world’s most eligible bachelors and earned himself the nickname ‘Randy Andy’ after being linked to a string of beautiful women.
But later in life his connections with controversial foreign figures raised concerns and he was dubbed ‘Air Miles Andy’ after being criticised for his globe-trotting, especially helicopter trips to pursue his passion for golf. At 22, Andrew saw active service in the Royal Navy as a Sea King helicopter pilot in the Falklands War. His service included flying his aircraft as a decoy target, trying to divert deadly Exocet missiles away from British ships.
He later married and divorced the bubbly, flame-haired Sarah ‘Fergie’ Ferguson, who herself has generated some of the most humiliating royal scandals of modern times. When a bachelor for a second time, Andrew again made headlines, having been spotted cavorting with topless women on holiday in Thailand, and attending a ‘hookers and pimps’ party with Robert Maxwell’s daughter, Ghislaine Maxwell, in the US.
After serving for 22 years in the Royal Navy, the duke became the UK’s special representative for international trade and investment, but his 10 years in the role generated a great deal of controversy. As a roving ambassador, one of his first tasks was a post-September 11 trip to New York, but he was criticised for attending a party during his stay.
Andrew has faced questions over his connections to politicians in Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Tunisia, Libya and Turkmenistan. His judgement was questioned after he held meetings with Libyan leader Colonel Muammar Gaddafi’s son Saif, and when he entertained the son-in-law of Tunisia’s ousted president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali at Buckingham Palace.
His relations with Timur Kulibayev, son-in-law of the then-president of Kazakhstan, were also scrutinised after Mr Kulibayev purchased the duke’s Sunninghill Park home for £3 million more than its £12 million asking price in 2007. Simon Wilson, Britain’s deputy head of mission in Bahrain from 2001 to 2005, wrote in the Daily Mail that the duke was ‘more commonly known among the British diplomatic community in the Gulf as HBH: His Buffoon Highness’.
In 2011, it emerged that Andrew was friends with American financier Epstein, who was sentenced to 18 months in prison in 2008 for soliciting a minor for prostitution. Photos surfaced of him with his arm around Virginia Giuffre, also known as Virginia Roberts, who claimed that Epstein employed her as a masseuse but exploited her while a teenage minor.
The duke was also pictured walking in New York’s Central Park with Epstein in December 2010, a year after Epstein’s release from prison, and this led him to quit his role as a trade envoy. In 2013, Andrew was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society, but Britain’s pre-eminent scientific institution faced unprecedented dissent from members over the move, with one professor describing the duke as an ‘unsavoury character’.
Tech-savvy Andrew, who was the first member of the royal family to have an official Twitter account under his own name, focused on his [email protected] work, bringing together industry experts with young entrepreneurs and technology start-ups. Then in 2015, while enjoying a New Year skiing holiday with his family, he was named in US court documents as having had sex a number of times with a teenage girl, a minor under US law.
The woman alleged she was ‘procured’ for the duke by Epstein, whom she accused of using her as a ‘sex slave’. She was identified in reports as Giuffre, the US teenager with whom Andrew had been pictured. The duke vehemently denied the allegation. In April 2015, a US federal judge ordered the claims to be struck from civil court records as the long-running lawsuit against Epstein continued.
But Andrew’s association with Epstein hit the headlines once again in 2019, amid ongoing investigations into the American, who killed himself in prison in August that year while awaiting trial on sex trafficking and conspiracy charges. The duke’s appearance on the BBC’s Newsnight programme later in November was intended to draw a line under the matter.
But it was dubbed a ‘car crash’, with commentators questioning his responses and condemning his unsympathetic tone and lack of remorse over his friendship with the sex offender Epstein. During the interview, Andrew denied that he slept with Ms Giuffre, saying one encounter in 2001 did not happen as he had spent the day with his daughter, Princess Beatrice, taking her to Pizza Express in Woking for a party.
The same alleged sexual liaison, which the American said began with the royal sweating heavily as they danced at London nightclub Tramp, was later branded factually wrong as the duke said he had a medical condition at the time which meant he did not sweat. And he twice stated that his relationship with sex offender Epstein had provided ‘seriously beneficial outcomes’, giving him the opportunity to meet people and prepare for his future role as a trade envoy.
In January, Andrew’s lawyers attempted to throw out the civil sex case brought by Ms Giuffre, but a judge rejected this and ruled the case could go to trial. The Queen stripped Andrew of his honorary military roles in response, and he gave up his HRH style, before demanding a jury trial.
But on February 15, their lawyers reached an out-of-court settlement in what eventually became a conclusion to the case. On March 8, it was revealed that Andrew had paid an estimated £12million to his US sex accuser – bringing the case against him to a close.
Meanwhile, some Royal experts suggested the Queen’s decision to give Andrew a front-and-centre role at the service was a sign of ‘endorsement’ in her disgraced son.
Former BBC royal correspondent Jennie Bond told the Express: ‘This was her way of quietly showing ”OK, he messed up really badly, this was a disgrace, but he is my son”.’
Peter Hunt, another ex-royal correspondent for the broadcaster, said it was a sign of the Queen ‘endorsing’ Andrew.
He added: ‘It didn’t happen by chance. He could have sat in the congregation with others, with his relatives, but they actively decided that he would have this role of supporting her. She’s very clearly stating that he has a role at family occasions.
‘It’s one thing to accept that he should attend his father’s memorial service, it’s quite another thing to then give him quite a prominent role so it was an active choice to give him such a prominent role.’
The service of thanksgiving saw around 1,800 people gather at Westminster Abbey, including representatives of the hundreds of charities that Prince Philip championed, including the Duke of Edinburgh Awards.
It was in marked contrast with his funeral last year, when Covid restrictions meant only 30 people could attend and the Queen was forced to sit alone and masked as she mourned.
The Monarch had been determined to make her appearance at yesterday’s service in honour of the man she described as her ‘strength and stay’.
But her recent ill health and increasing frailty meant that it was confirmed by Buckingham Palace only yesterday morning.
It was the Queen’s first major official engagement outside one of her homes for nearly six months. She last appeared to open the Welsh Senedd in Cardiff on October 14.
Her Majesty listened intently yesterday as the Dean of Windsor paid tribute to Prince Philip’s intellect, work ethic, sense of humour and devotion to his family.
The Right Reverend David Conner pointed out that the duke could be ‘abrupt’, and suggested that at times he could forget ‘just how intimidating he could be’.
Prince Philip’s granddaughter Princess Beatrice was seen to give a small chuckle as the dean remarked: ‘He could be somewhat sharp in pricking what he thought to be bubbles of pomposity or sycophancy.’
But all eyes were on Andrew sitting in the front row with the other senior family members. It is understood the ‘issue’ of his presence was being ‘kicked about’ by senior royals and their households at the end of last week.
As there was such a strong family element to the service, there was an understanding and acceptance that he would attend as he had a right to both mourn, and publicly celebrate, his father.
But it seems that the prince also pushed forward with his plan to accompany her as she left Windsor by car. Andrew lives only minutes from the Queen at Royal Lodge in Windsor Great Park.
He departed shortly after 10am yesterday in a Range Rover with his mother, both sitting on the back seat together, for the 22-mile drive to Buckingham Palace.
There they switched vehicles, travelling on to Westminster in the monarch’s Bentley limousine. A guard of honour saluted as the Queen drove past the main west door, where she would normally enter, in favour of Poet’s Yard.
Staff parked the car as close as possible in order to minimise the distance she needed to walk. She exited leaning heavily on her now familiar walking stick, holding onto her son’s arm as they moved towards her seat in the abbey.
They separated only at the end of the aisle, with Andrew giving a last glance at his mother as she turned right. He took his place in a front row seat – as befitting one of Philip’s four children – but on the other side of the aisle from the Prince of Wales and Princess Anne, who was with her husband Sir Tim Laurence.
Normally Andrew, who is still ninth in line to the throne, would have taken precedence over his sister.
Sources said his decision to take such a central role in the event by walking in with his mother on his arm has caused ‘consternation’, although nobody was blaming the Queen herself for his actions.
‘Some feel it was inappropriate,’ said one. ‘The issue of the duke’s role had been aired and batted around late last week.
‘It was accepted, perhaps reluctantly, that he would be accompanying her to the abbey from Windsor by car. It is fair to say there have been raised eyebrows at him being so front and centre.’
Asked whether any members of the family knew Andrew would help his mother down the aisle, one insider said: ‘There was no suggestion beforehand that he would be supporting her in that way.
‘It hadn’t been discussed specifically but it was hoped that common sense would intervene [and Andrew would not accompany her to the front of the abbey].
‘Clearly it didn’t. There is dismay. I think people accept that this doesn’t look good.’ Another source revealed: ‘No one was given a say. Andrew will have insisted and no one would have found out until it was too late.
‘The Prince of Wales will be despairing at the decision. And I don’t think the Duke of Cambridge will be too happy either. But that’s Andrew all over.’
Andrew also walked the Queen back out of the building after the service as other senior royals left by the front entrance.
Among those attending were Charles, the Duchess of Cornwall, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, the Countess of Wessex, the Princess Royal, Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie.
Prince George and Princess Charlotte were also present in honour of their great-grandfather – the first time they have attended a major public church service.
The dignified Queen, who looked fragile and slightly watery-eyed but kept her composure throughout, was heavily involved in arrangements for the service, which featured elements Philip planned for his own funeral but were forbidden due to pandemic restrictions.
A family source said that senior royals – including Prince Charles and the Duke of Cambridge – were ‘dismayed’ by events and that Andrew’s decision to put himself ‘front and centre’ of the service had caused ‘consternation’. Pictured: Prince Charles and Camilla walk down the aisle at Westminster Abbey followed by Prince William, Prince George, Princess Charlotte and the Duchess of Cambridge
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge left the Abbey with two of their children, Prince George and Princess Charlotte
Timothy Laurence and Anne, Princess Royal, arriving ahead of the Service of Thanksgiving for the life of Prince Philip
Thousands of supporters gathered outside the Service Of Thanksgiving For The Duke of Edinburgh at Westminster Abbey
A rousing rendition of the popular hymn Guide Me, O Thou Great Redeemer – also known as Bread of Heaven – was one of his particular requests, but congregational singing was banned at the time of his death.
Special arrangements were put in place for the Queen’s comfort, with the service limited to 40 minutes and the monarch sitting in one of the familiar ‘Canada’ chairs but with an additional cushion.
Afterwards the Queen drove with Andrew back to Windsor where she hosted a reception for members of her late husband’s German family who had flown over for the occasion. She was expected to pop in briefly.
Another reception was held in London for almost 30 foreign royals who had flown over to pay tribute to the Duke.
Fears Prince Andrew is on a ‘mission creep’ back to royal life: Officials are concerned the Duke of York might start appearing at other national events such as the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, writes RICHARD KAY
In all her 70 years on the throne, was this perhaps the most challenging decision she has had to make as Queen?
That it would have to be taken on a day brimming with such personal significance as the memorial service for her beloved Philip surely only added to its complexity.
The question itself was a relatively simple one: should she take Prince Andrew’s arm for the short walk from her car to her seat in Westminster Abbey’s South Lantern?
And if not Andrew’s whose? Because for all the simplicity of her choice, the consequences would reverberate far beyond the perimeter of the ancient Abbey.
That the Duke of York should have every right to pay homage to his father at yesterday’s service was never in doubt. What was uncomfortable for other senior family figures, we understand, was how close he should be to the heart of the action.
Sitting with his daughters in the largely anonymous second tier of family members was one thing, striding centre stage as his mother’s liegeman was potentially perilous.
Here, remember was a man who had been banished from royal life, stripped of his honorary military titles and other patronages, and forced to relinquish the style ‘His Royal Highness’ in any official capacity.
Exiled, in effect, after reportedly paying £12million to settle his sex-abuse lawsuit.
And as the Mail reports today, his proximity to the Queen at yesterday’s thanksgiving has provoked dismay at the Palace.
Officials are wary of any softening of the position of no return to royal duties for the Duke of York. One insider spoke of a fear of ‘mission creep’ – that having taken so prominent a position at the memorial, Andrew might start appearing at other national events such as June’s Jubilee celebrations.
Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II is helped into her car by her son Prince Andrew, right, after attending a Service of Thanksgiving for the life of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh at Westminster Abbey in London
So what should we make of the prince’s enhanced position yesterday? Certainly he appeared at times to cut an uncomfortable figure, jaw clenched and eyes flickering from side to side as he slowed to match the unhurried pace of the Queen.
On the surface it appeared the Queen had made a gesture of extraordinary maternal graciousness. It showed that her love for her favourite son was undimmed and that she believed in him.
Such a powerful and public endorsement would also suggest that she wanted to remind people he had not admitted any wrongdoing and, for all the repulsiveness of the Jeffrey Epstein affair, he had not been found guilty of anything but gross misjudgment.
Perhaps this was the Queen putting motherhood ahead of monarchy. Over the years she has been criticised for placing her duties to the Crown ahead of her family. Here then was the most powerful of reminders that, for all her devotion to service, being a mother is a higher purpose.
But this does present a danger for the royals: one of misunderstanding. Andrew’s appearance alongside his mother comes only weeks after the Queen publicly expressed her wishes that the Duchess of Cornwall should in time be made Queen Consort.
People now know that the crowning of Camilla is the will of the Queen. It is entirely possible that, in the same way, people will accept her approval of Andrew.
Naturally some wonder if this shows a road to a future redemption for Andrew. If, at her request, people can accept the idea of Camilla as Queen, was this the monarch’s way of asking people to show a measure of forgiveness for her son?
But the optics of the occasion yesterday have prompted some expressions of unease.
After watching the duke accompany his mother, Nazir Afzal, former chief crown prosecutor for north-west England, bitingly commented: ‘I’m all for rehabilitation but it starts with facing justice, accepting responsibility and working to rebuild victims’ confidence. None of that is present here so far.’
Perhaps, but this fails to take into account the special place Andrew has in the Queen’s life and heart. Both she and Prince Philip were immensely proud of his long Royal Navy service and, in particular, his bravery in the Falklands War 40 years ago, when he flew helicopter decoy missions, luring Argentine missiles away from the British fleet.
He has also been the most steadfast of sons. During the long months of Covid bubbles and the decline and death of Philip, Andrew was his mother’s most consistent supporter.
When her own health suffered, he was regularly in attendance at Windsor Castle, not far from his own home of Royal Lodge. For months his brothers and Princess Anne were grateful for his attentiveness and that his proximity to the castle meant he could spend time with their mother.
There was one other significant factor in yesterday’s royal tableau. Had it not been Andrew at her side, and the Queen wanted a family member to escort her, the choices were either Prince Charles, Prince William or Prince Edward. But all three princes had their own families at the Abbey, while the divorced Andrew – in the absence of his ex-wife – was unaccompanied.
According to the order of service, he was due to take his seat alongside his daughters, Beatrice and Eugenie, who arrived with their husbands. This indicates his role may not have been planned or even widely known.
Aides suggested the Queen would have been content for a member of the Abbey clergy to guide her to her seat. But it is entirely characteristic of her to prefer the familiarity of her own family for such a task.
What yesterday demonstrated above all was the Queen’s remarkable will. Her will to be at the service, her refusal to use a wheelchair or to be hidden away from view. And if it was her will to have Andrew at her side, then so be it.
In Edinburgh green they honoured Prince Philip through his official colour: ROBERT HARDMAN observes a poignant day as loved ones can finally pay tribute to the Duke of Edinburgh
Normally, a discreet word would ensure that there was no wardrobe clash between the senior royal ladies and the Monarch at a major state occasion. Not so yesterday.
Very touchingly, it was a case of the opposite.
For there, in the royal front row at Westminster Abbey, we saw the Princess Royal, the Duchess of Cornwall and the Queen herself all dressed in what is known as ‘Edinburgh green’. It had been the Duke’s official colour – on everything from staff liveries to cars (and even the old London taxi he used to drive around the capital).
Here was just one of so many delightful homages to the great man yesterday as loved ones, friends and admirers from every facet of his extraordinary life were finally able to come together and pay the full tribute denied him at his funeral.
Ahead of this service, there had been one question on all their minds: would Her Majesty feel up to joining them?
Right on time came the answer as the state trumpeters of the Household Cavalry marched out on to the High Altar to announce that the Sovereign had drawn up outside.
Front L to R: The Queen stands with Prince Charles, Camilla Duchess of Cornwall, Anne Princess Royal, Vice Admiral Sir Timothy Laurence, Prince Andrew Duke of York, Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex, his wife Sophie, Countess of Wessex, Lady Louise Mountbatten-Windsor, James, Viscount Severn. Behind is L to R: Prince William, Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, Prince George, Princess Charlotte, Peter Phillips, Isla Phillips, Savannah Phillips, Mia Tindall, Zara Tindall and Mike Tindall. They were attending a service of thanksgiving for late Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh
She entered by the shortest possible route, walking up the South Transept with the aid of a stick, as had been expected.
What had not been expected was that, of all those to whom she might turn for support, she would be escorted by the Duke of York.
He was making his first public appearance since paying off his US courtroom accuser and his subsequent ostracism from royal and public life.
No one, of course, could begrudge him his place at the heart of a family service to salute his late father.
However, despite the best efforts of senior royal officials to ensure that the Duke stuck to the original plan, arriving with his daughters and his siblings, he had apparently been dead set on this revised arrangement.
If it was bound to distract attention from the main focus of the ceremony, no one was going to countermand what had clearly been agreed with the Queen. ,
As it was, she seemed in little need of physical support anyway.
She moved at a stately pace up the aisle, before taking her seat next to the Prince of Wales.
She then parked her stick to her right and her handbag to her left.
During all the hymns, she rose unaided, knew all the words and, by the end, had dispensed with her spectacles.
Gleaming out from her lapel was her beloved ‘scarab brooch’, the one the Duke gave her in 1966.
Just behind her were five of her great-grandchildren, all enchantingly wide-eyed at their first experience of a state occasion.
Historians may later record this as the first official greeting line for a future King.
The Queen at her husband Prince Philip’s memorial service
Prince George and Princess Charlotte handled the long line of fully robed clergy with aplomb – as well as a smile, eye contact and a firm handshake.
To the Queen’s front and left were all those international royal houses to whom the Duke was not just a much-loved ally but, in many cases, directly related (as a former Prince of Greece and Denmark).
Four kings, five queens (not including our own) plus assorted crown princes and princesses were a reminder of the old joke that the Duke was ‘more royal than the royals’.
Opposite the royal pews were the Duke’s more immediate family, the grandchildren of his sisters.
They included Prince Philipp and Princess Xenia of Hohenlohe-Langenburg, Bernhard, the Hereditary Prince of Baden and assorted members of the House of Hesse.
Alongside them were British political leaders, including the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, and the Foreign Secretary, Liz Truss.
With the Defence Secretary on Ukraine duty, his place was taken by the MoD Minister of State, Jeremy Quin, who is also a member of the Admiralty Board.
All in all, more than 1,500 guests packed the Abbey for the event that never was in 2021.
They ranged from the Kings of Spain and Holland to representatives of bodies including the Scottish Youth Hostels Association, the Pakistan Society and the Caravan Club.
The prevailing Covid restrictions, famously, had reduced last April’s funeral to that majestically pared-down gathering of just 30 at St George’s Chapel, Windsor.
It could include none of the 992 organisations from all over the world of which the Duke had been a proud patron or member.
True, the Duke had never been keen on a memorial service, always believing that his achievements should be left to speak for themselves.
However, the pandemic had also stripped his funeral of several important ceremonial elements which he himself had planned so carefully.
It meant that some of his favourite music had been forcibly omitted, including one of his favourite hymns, Guide Me O Thy Great Redeemer.
And it precluded any role for some of the local clergy at the royal estates, whom the Duke had come to know so well.
So they were all thrown back in the mix, along with something the Duke had certainly not wanted – but which the Queen most certainly did: a eulogy.
In fact, there were two of them.
The first was an upbeat and moving tribute from Doyin Sonibare, 28, whose life had been transformed thanks to the best-known of the Prince Philip’s many legacies.
Doyin Sonibare, pictured, 28, who took part in the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award scheme
Having embarked on the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award scheme as a 15-year-old East London schoolgirl, she had completed her gold award by 18.
The experience, which included voluntary work in Gambia, had given her the self-confidence to aim high in the job market, despite not having a degree.
‘On reflection, I never thought I could do half of the things I have done in the last decade, yet I’ve been able to do so because of the opportunities presented to me,’ she explained.
Today, she is not only an advertising account executive but also studying for a PhD at Brunel University.
She was wearing the Gold Award brooch which she had received from the Earl of Wessex and was also loyally dressed in Edinburgh green, although she insisted afterwards that this was just a ‘crazy coincidence’.
The formal address came from the Dean of Windsor, the Rt Rev David Conner.
‘I am not sure that Prince Philip had much time for the theological controversies that divide people. His faith was a heartfelt trust in a loving God,’ he said, ‘such trust, such hope, as could unite people in a common endeavour.’
The Duke had known successive Deans of Windsor as old friends.
One of them, Robin Woods, had helped him build his theological retreat, St George’s House, in the heart of Windsor Castle.
Another, Michael Mann, had enjoyed such enthusiastic theological jousting with the Duke that their long letters to one another were eventually published as a book called ‘A Windsor Correspondence’.
Having been in post now for 24 years, David Conner could be said to have known the Duke as well as any of them.
‘Like the rest of us,’ he went on, ‘he was part of flawed humanity. Unlike most of us however, he was one of those rare people who remained true to, and guided by, what you might call ‘an inner spiritual compass’.’
Ms Sonibare talking to the Queen at Prince Philip’s memorial service
One of the first duties which the Queen had given the Duke on her accession was running all the royal estates.
Though he never said so, he was always proud of the job he did with all of them.
So, the clergy from all of them had been invited to say a prayer yesterday.
Unfortunately, a last-minute Covid diagnosis meant that the poor rector of Sandringham was stuck at home.
The music – especially the hymns – was every bit as sublime as the Duke had wanted.
And afterwards, the Queen left in manifestly good spirits.
She paused, with a big smile, to thank Miss Sonibare for her kind words before returning directly to Windsor, accompanied yet again by the Duke of York.
The various family groups then boarded a fleet of buses.
The European royals were taken to St James’s Palace for a reception with the Prince of Wales and other members of the family.
The German cousinhood – who had assembled before the service at Buckingham Palace – were bussed down to Windsor Castle for lunch with the Dean.
The Duke’s sisters, who had all married German nobility, had all been debarred from the Duke’s wedding in 1947, on the grounds that it was too soon after the end of the Second World War.
He had remained devoted to them and their offspring, however.
All the royal children and grandchildren have grown up close to their network of little-known continental cousins.
Just three representatives of this broad diaspora had been able to attend his funeral.
Yesterday, there were 31.
As well as lunch, they were all given their chance, at long last, to pay their respects at the spot where Uncle Philip now rests beneath St George’s Chapel.
The Prince of Wales was then due to join them all for tea.
Like everyone else in the Abbey, they found yesterday to be a glorious completion of that sad, unfinished business, left over from April 2021.
‘A very special occasion beautifully enacted,’ reflected Commodore Anthony Morrow, the last captain of the Royal Yacht, on his way out of the Abbey.
‘We all just felt very honoured to be a part of it.’