Queen steps out for late husband Philip’s memorial service

The Queen has joined other members of the British royal family to remember her “remarkable” late husband.

It was the Queen’s first public appearance at a major event in nearly six months.

She was driven from Windsor Castle to Westminster Abbey in central London for the thanksgiving service for Prince Philip, who died at age 99 last year.

The Queen used a walking stick and was supported by her son Prince Andrew, who was making his first public appearance since settling a civil lawsuit in the US with the woman who accused him of sex abuse.

Joining the family in the congregation were foreign kings and queens, friends of the late duke, politicians including British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, military figures and more than 500 representatives from charities and other organisations he championed.

Some of the Queen and Philip’s great-grandchildren – including Prince George and Princess Charlotte – also attended the service.

The Queen walked in with son Andrew. Photo: Getty

The memorial service was the first time such a large crowd could gather to farewell the Queen’s husband, who died last April. At the time, only 30 mourners were allowed at funerals in England – meaning a grieving Queen poignantly sat alone as her husband of 73 years was lowered into the Royal Vault of St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle.

The Queen’s health has been in focus since she spent a night in hospital in October for an unspecified ailment and was then instructed by her medical team to rest.

In February she caught COVID-19 and suffered mild cold-like symptoms and has since cancelled some in-person engagements.

It was the first time Princess Charlotte had been to such a major royal event. Photo: Getty

Buckingham Palace had remained tight-lipped leading up to the service about whether the 95-year-old monarch would be there. Confirmation she would attend came only in the last hours before the service was due to begin.

The Queen arrived via a side entrance to the Abbey. She used a walking stick and was aided by Andrew for the short walk to her seat.

Grandson Prince Harry, who has moved to live in the United States with his wife Meghan, did not attend the service following a disagreement with the government over security protection.

“A man of rare ability and distinction, rightly honoured and celebrated, he ever directed our attention away from himself,” David Hoyle, the Dean of Westminster, said of Philip.

Prince William’s family was there but Prince Harry stayed in the US. Photo: Getty

The Queen was reportedly heavily involved in selecting music for the memorial, as well as floral arrangements inspired by the couple’s wedding service at the same venue in 1947.

Philip, who married Elizabeth in 1947 at the Abbey where she was also crowned six years later, helped his wife adapt the monarchy to the changing times of the post-World War II era as the loss of empire and the decline of deference challenged the world’s most prominent royal family.

On their golden anniversary, she described Philip, who was known for his no-nonsense attitude and a propensity for occasional gaffes, as her “strength and stay”.

Forced to carve out a role for himself as there was no clear precedent, he focused on helping young people through his Duke of Edinburgh Awards scheme, and promoting environmental issues.

It was “a long life lived fully”, Reverend Hoyle said.

-with AAP

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