London, Apr 16 (PTI) Buckingham Palace on Friday released further details of the bespoke Land Rover, designed by Prince Philip over a 16-year project, which will double up as a hearse to carry his coffin to St George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle for the royal ceremonial funeral on Saturday.
As the central feature of a funeral the Duke of Edinburgh planned himself with military precision, the modified Land Rover Defender TD5 130 chassis cab vehicle was unveiled for the first time on Thursday.
His modifications include an open-top rear section, where his coffin will rest, and a military green colour given his affiliation to the armed forces and having served as a naval officer in the World War II.
Queen Elizabeth II’s husband Prince Philip, who passed away peacefully in his apartment at Windsor Castle last Friday aged 99, first began the venture to create the bespoke vehicle in collaboration with Land Rover in 2003, the year he turned 82 and five years before the luxury car brand was taken over by Tata Motors.
He made final adjustments to the vehicle in 2019, the year he turned 98.
The Defender was made at Land Rover's factory in Solihull in the West Midlands region of England, with the Duke overseeing the modifications in collaboration with Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) through the intervening years.
“We are deeply privileged to have enjoyed a very long and happy association with the Duke of Edinburgh over many decades. We are also honoured that the Land Rover which the Duke designed will be used at the funeral on Saturday,” said JLR CEO Thierry Bolloré.
“The Duke was a tremendous champion for design, engineering and technology. During his visits to our sites, he engaged with hundreds of employees and demonstrated his impressive knowledge and deep interest in vehicle design, engineering and manufacturing. The Duke was a truly remarkable man and will be greatly missed,” he said.
Among his many requests was that the original Belize Green bodywork be switched to Dark Bronze Green, a colour used for many military Land Rovers in the UK. Since its modification, Land Rover kept the vehicle and has worked with the royal household to prepare it for the funeral.
The running order released by the palace notes that the coffin will be moved from the private chapel to the State Entrance of Windsor Castle and placed on the specially-designed Land Rover to be carried the eight-minute distance to St. George's Chapel.
All four children of the late royal: Prince Charles – the Prince of Wales, Princess Anne – the Princess Royal, Prince Andrew – the Duke of York and Prince Edward – the Earl of Wessex and Forfar, and grandchildren Peter Phillips flanked by Princes William and Harry will walk alongside and behind the Land Rover in the funeral procession.
The procession will also reflect the Duke’s special relationship with the military, the Royal Marines, Regiments, Corps and Air Stations.
The plans for Philip's funeral – codenamed Operation Forth Bridge – have been in place for many years and now adapted to meet the coronavirus lockdown restrictions in a much scaled-back format.
The royal himself had wished for a low-key ceremonial funeral as opposed to a state funeral and left behind detailed instructions, which the palace says will be reflected in Saturday’s ceremony. PTI AK CPS