Prince Philip

Prince Philip Funeral: RAF Wings And Field Marshal Baton To Feature On Altar Display

More details of the funeral have been announced, including the Duke's modified Land Rover hearse, which he had repainted in military green.

The Duke of Edinburgh's Royal Air Force wings and Field Marshal baton will feature on a cushion that will make up part of the altar display at his funeral.

In addition to his Royal Navy careerPrince Philip was a qualified pilot, and gained his Air Force wings in 1953, as well as holding the rank of Field Marshal – the most senior appointment in the British Army.

The Duke personally selected the regalia which also includes his chosen insignia and the medals and decorations conferred on him by the UK and Commonwealth countries.

They will be pre-positioned on nine cushions on the altar in St George's Chapel at Windsor Castle where the funeral will take place in its entirety. 

The Duke also included insignia from Denmark and Greece – Order of the Elephant and Order of the Redeemer respectively – in a nod to his birth heritage as a Prince of Greece and Denmark.

Insignia, orders, decorations and medals are a way of a country recognising someone's achievements and conveying thanks to them.

Stephen Segrave, Secretary of the Central Chancery of the Orders of Knighthood, said: "There will be nine cushions with insignia placed on pre-positioned around the altar at St George's Chapel in Windsor.

Prince Philip in cockpit Oct 2014
The Duke gained his RAF wings in 1953, helicopter wings in 1956 and private pilot's licence in 1959 (Picture: MOD).

"They represent British and Commonwealth orders and decorations, and the final cushion with orders from Greece and Denmark, for obvious reasons.

"The Duke of Edinburgh had, I think, 61 decorations and awards from 53 different other countries, and there simply just wasn't the space to have them all on display at the funeral."

Mr Segrave added that the chosen insignia would have "absolutely" meant a great deal to Prince Philip.

The plans for Philip's funeral – codenamed Operation Forth Bridge – have been in place for many years, and were updated and reviewed regularly by Buckingham Palace staff in consultation with the Queen and the Duke.

The insignia are sewn in place on the cushions with fishing wire as it is transparent and therefore tends not to show up in the way coloured thread would.

The regalia was sewn on to the cushions at St James's Palace by two seamstresses earlier this week.

Among the chosen pieces are the Order of the Garter which consists of a collar made out of 22-carat gold, a badge with Saint George slaying the dragon known as the greater George, a sash with a badge called the lesser George, a breast star with the motto of the order, "Honi soit qui mal y pense", which translates as "Evil to him who evil thinks", and the garter itself.

Military personnel have been preparing for their role in the funeral on Saturday.

Others include the Royal Victorian Order collar and badge, British Empire collar and Grand Masters badge, Royal Victorian Chain and Order of Merit.

The funeral will have a major military presence, with more than 730 service members from all three services taking part.

Personnel practised their ceremonial duties on Wednesday in their first full rehearsal. 

The Duke, who served in the Royal Navy during the Second World War, had a close affiliation with the military and held a number of honorary roles.

Meanwhile, Prince Philip's Land Rover Defender TD5 130 chassis cab vehicle which he got modified into his own hearse has been unveiled for the first time.

His project to custom build the vehicle spanned 16 years, with Philip requesting a repaint in military green and designing the open-top rear and special "stops" to secure his coffin in place.

The Duke, who died aged 99 on Friday, made the final adjustments in 2019, the year he turned 98.

He first began the long-lasting venture to create his own bespoke hearse in collaboration with Land Rover in 2003, the year he turned 82.

The vehicle was made at Land Rover's factory in Solihull in 2003, with Prince Philip overseeing modifications in the years after.