Members of the British royal family gathered on Tuesday to celebrate the life of Prince Philip, who died aged 99 nearly a year ago.
Queen Elizabeth led the Royal Family at the Thanksgiving service at Westminster Abbey for Philip, her husband of more than 70 years.
The 95-year-old Queen has battled health issues in recent months – including COVID-19 and a brief hospital stay for what Buckingham Palace called “preliminary enquiries” – so her presence was all the more remarkable.
The Queen entered Westminster Abbey using a cane and holding the arm of her son Prince Andrew, who last month agreed to settle a sexual assault trial. The last time Andrew appeared in a public capacity with the Royal Family was last April when the family gathered in London for Prince Philip’s funeral.
Joining the Queen in celebrating Philip, in addition to Andrew, the couple’s three other children – Princes Charles and Edward and Princess Anne – and many of their grandchildren, including Prince William and his wife, the Duchess Kate.
Several of the Queen and Philip’s great-grandchildren, including William and Kate’s two eldest children, Prince George and Princess Charlotte, also attended the service.
Prince Harry, who stepped down from his main royal role in 2020 and now lives in California with his wife, Meghan, and their two children, was notably absent from the service. A spokesperson for Harry, the Duke of Sussex, confirmed earlier this month that he would not be attending.
Harry, who attended his grandfather’s funeral last April, said he was concerned about his safety in the UK. Earlier this year he filed a legal challenge asking the UK government to allow him to pay for his own police protection while in the UK.
The Thanksgiving service that Harry missed was a much larger affair than Prince Philip’s funeral, which took place at St George’s Chapel in Windsor and had to be changed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The Queen was “actively involved” in planning the Thanksgiving service for her husband, “with many elements reflecting Her Majesty’s wishes”, according to Buckingham Palace.
The Thanksgiving service, led by the Dean of Westminster, was designed to “pay tribute to the Duke of Edinburgh’s contribution to public life and his unwavering support for the more than 700 charities with which His Royal Highness has been associated throughout throughout his life,” according to the palace.
Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, was known as one of the hardest-working members of the royal family during his tenure alongside the country’s longest-serving monarch, Queen Elizabeth.
When he retired in 2017, at the age of 96, Philip had performed 22,219 solo engagements since 1952, given 5,496 speeches while traveling to more than 76 countries, written 14 books, sponsored 785 organizations and made 637 solo visits abroad, Buckingham Palace said at the time.
Tuesday’s service also highlighted a beloved program from Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, which he started in the 1950s to encourage “young people to serve their communities” and “live the adventure”, according to the royal family’s website.
The only non-clergyman to speak at the service was Doyin Sonibare, recipient of the Duke of Edinburgh’s award, according to the palace.
In addition to members of Philip’s family, Tuesday’s service also brought together royals from around the world, including Spain, Sweden, Bahrain, Romania, Serbia, Norway and Greece, according to Buckingham Palace.
Philip was born in Greece, in 1921, as the only son of Prince Andrew of Greece and Princess Alice of Battenberg. His family was exiled from Greece when he was a baby and he spent part of his childhood in France.
He was known as Prince Philip of Greece until he became a British subject in 1947 and relinquished his titles, becoming Philip Mountbatten.
Upon his marriage to Elizabeth in 1947, he became Duke of Edinburgh.
A decade later, in 1957, the Queen made Philip a “Prince of the United Kingdom”.