Princess Anne on Queen Elizabeth Sitting Alone at Prince Philip's Funeral: 'I'm Glad We Didn't See That'
"When you see the photograph, it's much worse somehow," said the Princess Royal
For Princess Anne, seeing the moment her mother Queen Elizabeth sat alone at Prince Philip's 2021 funeral was a difficult moment.
As part of a recent conversation with CBC chief correspondent Adrienne Arsenault, the Princess Royal, 72, discussed how the COVID-19 pandemic affected her family — and, in turn, the memorial services for her father, who died on April 9, 2021, one month shy of his 100th birthday.
"In some ways, I'm glad we didn't see that moment. And when you see the photograph, it's much worse somehow," Princess Anne said of the moment the Queen, who died the following year, sat alone in the pews of St. George's Chapel to say goodbye to her husband of 73 years due to social distancing guidelines.
"And you saw more of that than we did, [since we were] accompanying the coffin," Princess Anne told Arsenault during their conversation, which aired Monday right.
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In an update to her bestselling book The Other Side of the Coin: The Queen, the Dresser and the Wardrobe, the Queen's personal stylist and dressmaker Angela Kelly recalled how "no words were spoken" between herself and the monarch following Prince Philip's funeral service, adding that after she helped the Queen take off her coat, the monarch "walked to her sitting room, closed the door behind her, and she was alone with her own thoughts."
Kelly recalled that staff "stood to attention" as they watched Prince Philip's coffin be placed in the specially designed Land Rover that the Duke of Edinburgh had a hand in creating.
"You could see the expression of sadness on everyone's faces to see such a great and well-respected man making his last journey," she said. "Their thoughts, I'm sure, were for The Queen, knowing she had lost a husband and a best friend. The nation shared the grief and their hearts went out to Her Majesty."
Many of Prince Philip's pages and valets walked behind his coffin.
"We all felt their pain as they had worked with him for so long and we had worked alongside them. It was hard to watch our own friends saying goodbye to their amazing boss, His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh," Kelly continued.
She added, "I'm sure some of the prayers that were offered were by those who had never prayed before. I think those prayers were offered to keep The Queen strong throughout the months to come, when she would be without her husband."
Related: Prince Philip's Funeral: Tearful Moments as Queen Elizabeth Sits Alone and William and Harry Come Together
In her interview with Arsenault, Princess Anne reflected on feeling that even aside from his pared-down funeral, COVID "stole a bit from [her] father" in the final year of his life.
"I suppose I tend to think it stole a bit from my father, who lost a lot of the people who would've gone to see him and talk to him and had those conversations that kept him interested. And he lost all of that," she said.
The royal added, "I'm sure there are lots of families that would tell you the same thing — that, for the older generation, losing those contacts … online didn't do it for everybody."
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