And the sun shined – oh how it shined. The images from Windsor Castle today were sensational the powerful natural light illuminating the ancient walls and towers. And when the mourners and the catafalque arrived they too were bathed in natural light. If Steven Spielberg had been directing it it could not have been better lit.
We were in unknown territory today in more ways than one. The first funeral of a reigning monarch’s consort since Prince Albert. Did Victoria have to sit alone at the funeral as her successor did today? I doubt it.
The Duke apparently choreographed what happened and by doing so revealed a wicked sense of humour and a rejection of the sentimental. The converted Land Rover that transported his coffin was a Pythonesque master stroke. The lack of triumphalist bombast was equally impressive.
I defy the gutter press to find much to object to. Peter Philips, The Duke’s grandson, cleverly walked a half pace behind his fellow grandsons William and Harry and whatever visual divide there might have been between the two Dukes was eliminated. Even Piers Morgan will struggle to find evidence of a rift there.
The music was well chosen and the ceremony was low key, but appropriate to the times. The wearing of masks, including by HMQ, was a leveller. As was the Queen’s decision (allegedly) to ban her offspring from the wearing of uniforms. If Andrew had appeared as an Admiral it would have turned an impressively classy event into a Gilbert and Sullivan opera.
Quite how Queen Elizabeth had to sit on her own I’ve no idea. Maybe it was her choice but it went beyond the poignant into the tragic. Did her suffering have to be quite so intense and visible?
There will be those who will say that the funeral was quintessentially British. This would reek of English exceptionalism to me. It was respectful and well organised and moving. I don’t think that any nation has a monopoly on those virtues.