The Queen has signalled her support for the Duke of York by arriving with her disgraced son for the Duke of Edinburgh’s memorial service which paid tribute to a “remarkable man”.
Andrew provided a steady arm for the Queen as she walked into Westminster Abbey to remember the life of her husband, a few weeks after reaching a multimillion-pound out-of-court settlement in a civil sexual assault case.
The event at Westminster Abbey was an opportunity for Philip’s close family, European kings and queens, charity bosses and young people, whose generation were championed by the duke, to say their final goodbyes after his funeral was restricted to 30 mourners due to Covid regulations.
By the end, as the National Anthem was played, the Queen – attending her first major public event in more than five months – looked emotional, blinking several times as her family sung around her.
The Dean of Windsor, the Right Rev David Conner, gave the main address and paid tribute to Philip’s abilities and also highlighted his shortcomings – just as the duke would have wanted.
He described Philip as a man of “passionate commitment” who devoted his “intellectual and physical energy” to a “host of down-to-earth enterprises”, but he could also be “abrupt” in a “robust conversation, forgetting just how intimidating he could be”.
Among those attending were the Prince of Wales, 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 Queen, 95, had been determined to make the appearance at the deeply personal occasion on Tuesday in honour of her “strength and stay” Philip, with her attendance only confirmed the same morning.
The prominent and symbolic role played by Andrew – long-rumoured to be the Queen’s favourite child – was described by some commentators as a practical decision, but others have suggested it is a move towards rehabilitation for the duke.
Former BBC royal correspondent Peter Hunt told the PA news agency: “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.
“So she has chosen, in essence, to remind people that he hasn’t admitted any wrongdoing, he’s not guilty of anything, he’s innocent. And she’s very clearly stating that he has a role at family occasions.”
The memorial service was an emotional event for some, with Andrew’s daughter Beatrice crying during the first hymn, shortly after the Queen arrived with the Duke of York.
She held her hand to her face, but was unable to hold back her tears, covering her face with her order of service. She was comforted by husband Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi, who placed his hand on his wife’s back as she reached for a tissue from her purse.
The Queen, Camilla and Anne all paid tribute to the duke by wearing outfits in Edinburgh green – Philip’s livery colour.
The monarch had a reminder of her husband on her left shoulder, a yellow gold, ruby and diamond scarab brooch, designed by Andrew Grima, which was a gift from her consort in 1966.