The picture in question captured Queen Elizabeth II completely alone in St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle, as she as she waited for the funeral procession carrying the Duke of Edinburgh’s coffin to arrive.
Even in normal circumstances, this image would stir emotions in the most stoic of folk. But the picture prompted an outpouring of grief as people were moved by the sight of the Monarch sitting solo in the empty wooden stalls of the quire which – were it not for coronavirus rules – would have been packed.
Although other family members were later seated nearby, the Queen had to say goodbye to her husband of 73 years while physically distanced from the handful of other guests at the ceremony. In accordance with Covid rules, Prince Andrew – who sat closest to her – was two seats to her left.
The stark image is a powerful reminder of the pain caused by the pandemic and highlights the extra suffering so many have endured as grief is compounded by separation from loved ones.
During the event, which took place this afternoon, the duke was described as enriching the lives of all those he knew with his “kindness, humour and humanity”.
The funeral procession made its way through the precincts of the castle. Philip’s children – Prince of Wales, Princess Royal, Duke of York and Earl of Wessex – walked behind his coffin carried by a Land Rover Defender hearse the Queen’s consort helped design.
They were joined by the duke’s grandsons the Duke of Sussex, Duke of Cambridge and Peter Phillips and Vice Admiral Tim Lawrence, the Princess Royal’s husband, and the Queen’s nephew the Earl of Snowdon.
The royals walked in step as a military band played and all stared straight ahead into the sun as they made their way to duke’s final resting place.
Philip had followed the Queen throughout her reign as he supported her as head of state, but now she followed him, travelling for part of the procession at the rear of the cortege in a state Bentley.
As fitting an end as possible in the strangest of circumstances.