Sailors and Royal Marines mustered at HMS Collingwood in Fareham on Saturday and have now moved to the Army Training Centre Pirbright, in Surrey, to finalise preparations for Saturday’s funeral of the Prince Philip.
The funeral will take place at St George’s Chapel, Windsor, preceded by a ceremonial procession inside the grounds of Windsor Castle.
The duke’s coffin will be covered with his personal standard and will bear his naval cap and sword. Positioned in the quadrangle at Windsor Castle will be representative detachments from His Royal Highness’s special military relationships.
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The sailors and Royal Marines have been drawn from selected establishments and units to maintain Covid-secure bubbles. They are Charlie Company of Taunton-based 40 Commando, HMNB Portsmouth, RNAS Yeovilton and Devonport-based HMS Magpie – a ship with a special connection to the Duke.
The previous HMS Magpie, a frigate, was the only vessel the Duke of Edinburgh commanded. He completed his naval career in 1953, later holding the titles of Honorary Admiral of the Fleet and Captain General of the Royal Marines.
Senior instructors of both fighting arms have been directing the training, using floodlights at HMS Collingwood to drill into the night on their solemn duties.
Warrant Officer First Class Eddie Wearing, the Royal Navy’s state ceremonial training officer based in Portsmouth, has previously trained sailors to take part in Remembrance Day services in London.
He said: ‘Training is very intense and very demanding; but as naval ratings we rise to the challenge, as we always do, and make sure we are prepared.’
Royal Marines First Drill, WO1 Steve Payne, said the Commandos were honoured to take part in the funeral.
He added: ‘The Royal Marines have the honour of bearing the coffin of our former Captain General, His Royal Highness, from the hearse and up into St George’s Chapel, the final part of the ceremonial aspect of the funeral.
‘The training comes thick and fast this week to get ourselves up to speed. Personally, I’ve had a lot of high points of my career, but as a drill instructor there can be nothing better than helping to send off the former Captain General in the very best way possible.’
The Duke of Edinburgh had a long affiliation with the Royal Navy and Royal Marines, having trained at Britannia Royal Naval College in Dartmouth before deploying in HMS Ramillies, HMS Kent and HMS Shropshire during the Second World War.