Ship of Fools: Funeral of His Royal Highness The Prince Philip Duke of Edinburgh, St George’s Chapel


imageShip of Fools: Funeral of His Royal Highness The Prince Philip Duke of Edinburgh, St George’s Chapel, Windsor, England

Prince Philip laid to rest amid an unswerving focus on God

Read the full Mystery Worshipper report here


Comments

  • The TV presenter could be avoided by using the BBC "Red Button" channel.
  • Box PewBox Pew Shipmate
    I watched later on You Tube and there was no BBC voice-over to interrupt the ceremony. It is ironic that since his death, the Prince's deep sense of religion has, for many, come as a revelation. It was a personal faith and he was recorded variously as being frustrated by the structures of the Church of England. But there was throughout his life ample evidence of it and it is an indictment of present-day journalism - that doesnt 'do God' - that it was kept out of the huge quantities of coverage about him. Until he died.
  • StephenStephen Shipmate Posts: 48
    edited April 20
    It was rather unfortunate that the presenter didn't seem to know the difference between Ecclesiastes and Ecclesiasticus, Tut, tut and thrice tut. Apart from that I thought it was OK - the commentary I mean. The Service itself was beautiful - almost Cistercian in its austerity - but no less moving for that. I thought it was a nice gesture too to invite their German cousins.

    The Duke has sometimes been painted as being somewhat of a Philistine ( I can see The Organist shaking his head!!) but the fact that two works were commissioned by him seems to give the lie to that.
  • The organ underwent a comprehensive re-ordering in 2019 by Nicholsons.

    The musical choices gave a glimpse into the late Duke's interest in liturgical music. He also chose the organ music: he was a frequent attendee of the chapel's organ recitals, slipping into a seat in the Quire unobserved.
  • Alan29Alan29 Shipmate
    I found the piper the most moving bit, and the lady soprano the most annoying (I have a strong aversion to wobbly sopranos.)
    Overall I thought it rather impersonal and the reading out of his styles and titles at the end to be hollow in the face of death before which we are all equal.
    The sight of the socially distanced 30 was so like the many funerals I have played at during this pandemic poignant in the extreme.
    Is that the Dean's usual liturgical voice or a special one he employs for funerals?
  • If you watch the royal weddings he's done you'll find its his usual mode of delivery - a style one if my Godfathers labelled Parsonic 😈
  • SojournerSojourner Shipmate
    Will respectfully agree to disagree with Alan29’s description of the sop’s voice as wobbly. She sang straight and had the power to blend well with the men.
  • Box PewBox Pew Shipmate
    The Dean's fixed po-face at the marriage of Harry and Meghan stood out a mile - and it seems he hasn't let up a bit since. The voice belongs with the facial expression.

    At the end, the sight of the ladies nervously stepping down from their stalls in the highest of heels reminded me of the Jack Lemon line in Some Like It Hot as he tries on stilletos: "How can women walks in these things?!".

    I loved everything about this service except the plump little chappie in Gilbert and Sullivan costume who read out the stuff about Orders, Garters and Knights. This made me think its time that we, as a country, grew out of our fancy dress phase. Dare I say I think Philip, as a moderniser, would agree.
  • Gee DGee D Shipmate
    Alan29 wrote: »
    Overall I thought it rather impersonal and the reading out of his styles and titles at the end to be hollow in the face of death before which we are all equal.

    You may remember the practice at Hapsburg funerals - the cortege reaches the doors to the crypt; all the titles of the deceased are read out, along with a demand that the door be opened. Of course nothing happens and the list is read again with a second demand. Still nothing happens. At the next try, the call is simply "Here is Otto, a sinner" (or something very similar), a simple request for entry and the door is opened.
  • Box Pew wrote: »
    I loved everything about this service except the plump little chappie in Gilbert and Sullivan costume who read out the stuff about Orders, Garters and Knights. This made me think its time that we, as a country, grew out of our fancy dress phase. Dare I say I think Philip, as a moderniser, would agree.

    That was the chirf Garter King at Arms, referred to by some members of the RF as The playing cards.

    The tradition of reading out the styles and titles in such a way goes back to the time when all state appointments were rendered null and void on the death of a member of the RF: had Philip been formally Prince Consort his Chamberlain would have snapped his wand and placed the pieces on top of the coffin, as happened at the funeral of The Queen Mother.

    I suspect that Philip included it in his funeral partly tongue-in-cheek, but also in full knowledge of the symbolism that there is now a new guiding pater familias in the RF, Prince Charles.

  • HelenEvaHelenEva Shipmate
    Sojourner wrote: »
    Will respectfully agree to disagree with Alan29’s description of the sop’s voice as wobbly. She sang straight and had the power to blend well with the men.

    Likewise. All four singers did an amazing job.
  • I thought she was great as well. Acknowledging that this is me imposing my values on St. George’s Windsor, I thought they should have had her vested. There’s probably some rule I’m not aware of that would make that tricky. But I think that the tradition and importance of boy trebles can co-exist with an acknowledgement that women can and should have an equal position in church music.
  • The initials *RF* remind me of the well-known class of London Transport/Green Line single-deck bus/coach of the 1950s and 1960s, rather than the Royal Family...

    Just saying.
  • SojournerSojourner Shipmate
    I thought she was great as well. Acknowledging that this is me imposing my values on St. George’s Windsor, I thought they should have had her vested. There’s probably some rule I’m not aware of that would make that tricky. But I think that the tradition and importance of boy trebles can co-exist with an acknowledgement that women can and should have an equal position in church music.


    I agree re the vesting however since the choir of St George’s chapel consists of men & boys it is likely that the men are lay clerks in the choir ( hence vested) and the sop as a blow-in for the occasion was togged up in black. Better her than a reedy little boy!
  • Amanda B ReckondwythAmanda B Reckondwyth Mystery Worship Editor
    Sojourner wrote: »
    Better her than a reedy little boy!

    Fie! There's nothing sweeter than a properly trained boy soprano. The Blessed Mother saw to it that the boy Jesus was properly trained, and the tradition continues.

  • SojournerSojourner Shipmate
    I’ve hear better girl sops thanks
  • That amount of Fairly difficult music on live TV without any part support would have been a BIG ask for a 12 year old.
  • The fact that the service was rendered so well - despite the various minor imperfections perceived by some - is surely a credit to all concerned.

    I daresay plans were laid, as it were, some time ago, but there was only just over a week between HRH's death and the funeral.
  • Alan29Alan29 Shipmate
    edited April 22
    The UK boasts many sopranos trained to produce a pure tone. A shame they didnt pick one.
    https://youtu.be/_tiyDiIo4dg
  • StephenStephen Shipmate Posts: 48
    The initials *RF* remind me of the well-known class of London Transport/Green Line single-deck bus/coach of the 1950s and 1960s, rather than the Royal Family...

    Just saying.

    I've always thought it meant Radio Frequency.........!
  • HelenEvaHelenEva Shipmate
    That amount of Fairly difficult music on live TV without any part support would have been a BIG ask for a 12 year old.

    Agree - it would have been a huge unfair strain to put on a child. If they'd wanted to use a treble sound they would have needed a small group of them.
  • Actually none of it was particularly difficult, and a boarding chorister (St George's has it's own Choir School, the choral foundation mirrors that of a cathedral) wouldn't have experienced any problems.
  • Interesting comments from John Rutter here: https://johnrutter.com/latest-blog/did-they-mention-the-music
  • Amanda B ReckondwythAmanda B Reckondwyth Mystery Worship Editor
    Good Lord, is he still alive? (And he was born the same year as I was.) At least I learned something from his article that I didn't previously know -- that Her Majesty plays the piano.
  • Nick TamenNick Tamen Shipmate
    edited April 23
    Alan29 wrote: »
    The UK boasts many sopranos trained to produce a pure tone. A shame they didnt pick one.
    https://youtu.be/_tiyDiIo4dg
    I confess to being reminded of Anna Russell”s description of the “particularly English” “clear white, or nymphs-and-shepherds style. It’s characteristic is . . . its utter purity.”

    Seriously, I do think there may be cultural differences and expectations at play. The pure tone exemplified in the video is lovely and well-controlled, but it’s not particularly popular here (the States), and I suspect the same may be true in Oz. Many people here would describe it as a woman trying to sound like a boy. Likewise, most musicians here would not describe Miriam Allen’s well-controlled vibrato as a “warble.” I thought her voice was beautiful.

    Neither style is “right” or “wrong”—just different.

    But of course, it was a British funeral, so there’s no reason why people shouldn’t expect the voices to meet British tastes and expectations.

  • Someone, somewhere (perhaps on another Prince Philip thread) wondered about the colour of the officiants' copes.

    Looking at the images, they would appear to be either black, or very deep purple, or else a subtle combination of the two IYSWIM.

    Some might say that Eastertide white or gold might have been appropriate, but we've had that discussion before. Maybe the colour was also what HRH wanted?
  • Nick TamenNick Tamen Shipmate
    Don’t know whether they were what the Duke wanted, but they certainly looked black to me.
  • The Dean's cope was black with bands heavily embroidered in gold, plain black shield bound with thin gold rolled edge.

    The Archbishop's was blue with gold embroidered black velvet bandx and a silver and jet clasp. I think part of the set made for the funeral of Queen Victoria. It was a bit too big for him but I assume he wore it in preference to one of the newer set because it was shorter (he'sonly 5' 7").

    The Dean's cope is one of a leter set made sometime after the funeral of the Duke of Windsor in 1972, partly because the victorian set are all rather short!
  • Thanks for that - I only looked at pix of the Dean, not realising that the Archbishop's cope was different.

    My bad.

    Do you have a suitable link to a photo?
  • Here's a picture of the Dean and here's the archbishop. Looking at the ABofC more closely it may be all black?
  • EnochEnoch Shipmate
    Gee D wrote: »
    You may remember the practice at Hapsburg funerals - the cortege reaches the doors to the crypt; all the titles of the deceased are read out, along with a demand that the door be opened. Of course nothing happens and the list is read again with a second demand. Still nothing happens. At the next try, the call is simply "Here is Otto, a sinner" (or something very similar), a simple request for entry and the door is opened.

    It goes further than that. The first time it is all the illustrious honours and titles that are read out, with the demand that the door be opened. When that doesn't work, the second time what is read out is a list of the deceased's personal achievements. In Otto's case, that included all his European endeavours. That doesn't work either. It's only the final one, Otto, a sinner seeking God's mercy that works as the Open Sesame.

    I found the sombre simplicity of it all very apt and moving, much more so than a typical occasion with massed politicians etc., each in their finery and trying to elbow their way into the cameras, would have been.

    I've commented elsewhere that I like the way the number limited choirs of lockdown have meant we get single adult female sopranos in place of boy trebles, particularly when there's only one voice per part.

  • Gee DGee D Shipmate
    Thanks for your clarification of the second demand.
  • Gee DGee D Shipmate
    Nick Tamen wrote: »
    But of course, it was a British funeral, so there’s no reason why people shouldn’t expect the voices to meet British tastes and expectations.

    Don't forget that he was the spouse of our beloved monarch, as well as that of over a dozen more countries.

  • Here's a picture of the Dean and here's the archbishop. Looking at the ABofC more closely it may be all black?

    I suspect there may be a subtle touch of purple and/or blue in these rather sombre, yet splendid, copes.

    Whether or not one sees the other colours might depend on one's eyesight, or the light!
  • Nick TamenNick Tamen Shipmate
    Gee D wrote: »
    Nick Tamen wrote: »
    But of course, it was a British funeral, so there’s no reason why people shouldn’t expect the voices to meet British tastes and expectations.

    Don't forget that he was the spouse of our beloved monarch, as well as that of over a dozen more countries.
    Very true, and I that’s one reason I thought it very apt to have an Australian soprano and a New Zealander tenor.

  • SpikeSpike Admin Emeritus
    Good Lord, is he still alive? (And he was born the same year as I was.)
    Very much so and I’ve had the pleasure of meeting him a few times as he regularly uses my church to make recordings of his choir
  • My word what a bland and monotone voice with which to conduct a funeral. He might have been announcing the weekly takings of a shoe shop
  • [/quote]
    Box Pew wrote: »
    I loved everything about this service except the plump little chappie in Gilbert and Sullivan costume who read out the stuff about Orders, Garters and Knights. This made me think its time that we, as a country, grew out of our fancy dress phase. Dare I say I think Philip, as a moderniser, would agree.

    That was the chirf Garter King at Arms, referred to by some members of the RF as The playing cards.

    The tradition of reading out the styles and titles in such a way goes back to the time when all state appointments were rendered null and void on the death of a member of the RF: had Philip been formally Prince Consort his Chamberlain would have snapped his wand and placed the pieces on top of the coffin, as happened at the funeral of The Queen Mother.

    I suspect that Philip included it in his funeral partly tongue-in-cheek, but also in full knowledge of the symbolism that there is now a new guiding pater familias in the RF, Prince Charles.
    Do you think he does parties too? I'm booking him for mine if he does.

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