With the shock and sad news of Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh’s death on 9th April, a week on and the world’s attention now turns towards the royal family’s funeral arrangements.
For those who did not already know, Prince Philip was renowned for having a sharp sense of humour and a love of design and engineering, including the classic shape of the Land Rover Defender. Part of this character is evident in the choice of a 2003 Land Rover Defender TD5 130 as a hearse, which over a relaxed period of 16 years, the Duke had a hand in designing. The modified Land Rover will be the proud bearer of his coffin on the day of his funeral which will take place at St George’s Chapel in the grounds of Windsor Castle on Saturday 17 April 2021.
This rather special and unique one-off TD5 130 custom chassis cab has been maintained over the period of the Duke’s ownership by Land Rover, with the final tweaks to the vehicle being made as recently as 2019. The unlikely hearse is painted in military Dark Bronze Green, which replaces the standard Belize Green, as chosen by the Duke of Edinburgh himself echoing the many years of association with the armed forces that the Duke had during his lifetime. Of course, the Duke also fought during World War 2, having trained as an officer in Dartmouth at the Royal Navy College in 1939. He went on to fight in the battle of Crete in 1941 serving aboard HMS Valiant.
The Duke’s Land Rover has an open rear allowing for the coffin to be easily moved and carried and visible. Prince Philip’s involvement in the design even went as far as overseeing the design of the rubber stops that sit on silver pins to stop the coffin moving during transportation.
On Saturday 17 April, the Land Rover flanked by Royal Marine pallbearers will proceed in a slow funeral procession through the grounds of Windsor Castle to the Galilee Porch entrance to St George’s Chapel, led by the band of the Royal Grenadier Guards and military commanders and chiefs of staff. The royal family will follow on foot, but the Queen will travel in the royal State Bentley at the rear of the procession. The procession will also include various military units with the route being lined by the Royal Marines, The Highlanders, 4th Battalion Royal Regiment of Scotland, Royal Air Force and of course, the Royal Navy. Due to current restrictions, what would likely have been a much larger funeral service itself, has been reduced to just 30 mourners. This will be a ceremonial funeral rather than a state funeral.
After 16 years of careful tweaking and design, the Duke’s custom Land Rover TD5 130 will finally get to be used for its one and only task.
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