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Princess Anne Reacts to Seeing Photo of Queen Elizabeth Sitting Alone at Prince Philip’s Funeral

Ryan McLachlan
Photo Credit: Jonathan Brady / WPA Pool / Getty Images
Photo Credit: Jonathan Brady / WPA Pool / Getty Images

The coronation of King Charles III and Queen Camilla is a time filled with patriotic sentiments and celebrations, both public and private. We are also reminded that in a span of just 18 months, both Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, and Queen Elizabeth II passed away.

After Prince Philip’s funeral, a powerful image circulated around the world. It shows the queen, dressed in black and wearing a face covering, sitting alone with her eyes fixed upon her late husband’s coffin. In a recent CBC interview, Princess Anne, the Princess Royal, weighed in on seeing the most moving image from that day.

The heartbreaking photograph

Queen Elizabeth II look on as her late husband, Prince Philip's coffin is brought into St. George's Chapel by eight Royal Marine pallbearers.
Funeral of His Royal Highness, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. April 17, 2021 (Photo Credit: Jonathan Brady / WPA Pool / Getty Images)

CBC chief correspondent Adrienne Arsenault sat down with Princess Anne to discuss various topics, including the effect the pandemic had on the royal family and the queen being forced to sit alone at Prince Philip’s funeral.

Princess Anne remarked, “In some ways, I’m glad we didn’t see that moment. And when you see the photograph, it’s much worse somehow.” The moment she spoke of was when the queen sat alone in the pews of St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle due to the United Kingdom’s guidelines for social distancing.

Her Royal Highness continued to Arsenault, “And you saw more of that than we did, [since we were] accompanying the coffin.”

‘Lost a husband and a best friend’

Queen Elizabeth in a green suit following the Platinum Pageant on June 5, 2022
Queen Elizabeth II stands on the balcony of Buckingham Palace following the Platinum Pageant on June 5, 2022 in London, England. (Photo Credit: Max Mumby / Indigo / Getty Images)

In her book, The Other Side of the Coin: The Queen, the Dresser, and the Wardrobe, the queen’s personal stylist and dressmaker Angela Kelly remembered that “no words were spoken” when she helped the queen with her coat after the funeral. According to Kelly, Queen Elizabeth “walked to her sitting room, closed the door behind her, and she was alone with her own thoughts.”

The staff who worked with the queen and Prince Philip also felt this sorrow. As noted by Kelly, “You could see the expression of sadness on everyone’s faces to see such a great and well-respected man making his last journey.” She continued, saying that their thoughts were with Queen Elizabeth, “knowing she had lost a husband and a best friend. The nation shared the grief, and their hearts went out to Her Majesty.”

Kelly summed up the feeling of the royal household staff, as well as many viewers’ sentiments upon seeing the image of the queen alone: “I’m sure some of the prayers that were offered were by those who had never prayed before. I think those prayers were offered to keep The Queen strong throughout the months to come when she would be without her husband.”

The pandemic’s effect on Prince Philip

In the CBC interview, Arsenault told the Princess Royal that in Canada, many people described the pandemic “as a thief, in that it stole from a lot of people.” And asked, “Did it steal from you?”

Princess Anne remarked, “I suppose I tend to think it stole a bit from my father, who lost a lot of the people who would’ve gone to see him and talk to him and had those conversations that kept him interested. And he lost all of that.” She added that “I’m sure there are lots of families that would tell you the same thing, that, for the older generation, losing those contacts… online didn’t do it for everybody.”

More from us: Queen Elizabeth’s Historic Life in Photos

The image of the queen sitting alone at Prince Philip’s funeral is as heartbreaking now as it was in April 2021. But now, with the coronation fast approaching, Royalists have far more joyous events to look forward to.

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Ryan McLachlan

Ryan McLachlan is a historian and content writer for Hive Media. He received his Bachelor of Arts in History and Classical Studies and his Master of Arts in History from the University of Western Ontario. Ryan’s research focused on military history, and he is particularly interested in the conflicts fought by the United Kingdom from the Napoleonic Wars to the Falklands War.

Ryan’s other historical interests include naval and maritime history, the history of aviation, the British Empire, and the British Monarchy. He is also interested in the lives of Sir Winston Churchill and Admiral Lord Nelson. Ryan enjoys teaching, reading, writing, and sharing history with anyone who will listen.

In his spare time, he enjoys watching period dramas such as Murdoch Mysteries and Ripper Street and also enjoys reading classical literature and Shakespeare. He also plays football and is an afternoon tea connoisseur.