Prince Philip's coffin lowered into Royal Vault in unprecedented moment never seen on TV before

PRINCE Philip’s coffin was lowered into the Royal Vault in front of millions of viewers in an unprecedented move which saw it televised for the first time ever.

The Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral service saw the groundbreaking moment when his coffin was lowered by an electric motor to mark a first in British Royal history.

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Usually the movement of the coffin being placed into the vault beneath the floor of the Quire of St George's Chapel takes place in private. 

But for the first time the BBC broadcasted the poignant moment, after millions tuned in to watch Prince Philips final journey. 

As it was lowered into the Royal Vault, the Garter King of Arms proclaimed the Duke’s “styles and titles” which were read out in full. 

As planned by Philip himself, the naval call to arms, Action Stations, was played as the coffin was lowered. 

Joe Little, managing editor of Majesty magazine, described the moment as "unique in British royal history".




At George VI's funeral in 1952, the King's coffin was lowered into the Vault but the proceedings were not televised so the working operation of the motor has not been broadcast before.

Photographs of the occasion taken from a distance show the new Queen Elizabeth II standing in front of the space on the floor after the coffin had descended.

She sprinkled earth into the vault and stood with the widowed Queen Mother, her sister Princess Margaret and the King's sister Princess Mary.

Philip's coffin rested on a catafalque in the Quire and was draped with his personal standard, and decorated with a wreath of flowers and his Naval cap and sword.

The sword was given to him by King George VI on the occasion of his marriage to Princess Elizabeth in 1947 and is engraved with a message from his father-in-law.

It comes as:  

  • Queen arrives at Prince Philip’s funeral on ‘her saddest day’ as his coffin is moved into chapel
  • Prince Harry stands apart from William at Philip’s funeral as he’s seen in Britain for first time since Oprah interview
  • Britain pauses for national minute’s silence to honour Prince Philip on day of mourning
  • Absent Meghan Markle leaves handwritten note to Prince Philip as family gather to say goodbye
  • Queen’s special relationship with Prince Andrew proven once again as she seats him in prime spot for Philip funeral  
  • Meghan Markle watches Prince Philip’s funeral on live-stream from US with Archie after doctors said she couldn’t attend

The duke also personally selected the regalia – the medals and decorations conferred on him by the UK and Commonwealth countries – together with his Royal Air Force wings and Field Marshal's baton.

The Royal Vault at Windsor was created between 1804 and 1810 for George III, who died in 1820 and is buried along with George IV and William IV.

Others buried there include George III's wife Queen Charlotte and their daughter Princess Amelia, who was the first to be interred there. 

George IV's daughter Princess Charlotte and Queen Victoria's father the Duke of Kent were also placed in the vault.

Princess Margaret, who died in 2002, was cremated and her ashes were initially placed in the Royal Vault, before being moved to the George VI memorial chapel with her parents' coffins when the Queen Mother died just weeks later.



The vault is not the duke’s final resting place, as he will be transferred to the church's King George VI memorial chapel to lie alongside his devoted wife of 73 years when she dies.

The tiny chapel houses the remains of George VI, the Queen Mother and Princess Margaret.

George VI was interred into the Royal Vault first and moved to the memorial chapel annex when it was built 17 years later.

The Quire was the first part of the chapel to be completed, with the aisles finished and roofed between 1477 and 1483. 

Originally there were fifty stalls for the Knights and Cannons, but in the late eighteenth century two further stalls were added to take it to fifty two. 

In the centre of the Quire a ledger stone site to mark the burial place of King Henry VIII and King Charles I. 

Jane Seymour, one of Henry VIII wives is also buried with them, and the chamber was discovered during restoration works in 1837. 

King William IV instructed that the stone should be placed there to mark to spot.



Architect James Wyatt had the area below the chapel dug out to create the new vaulted crypt. 

It was designed so that a coffin could be taken via a lift and shaft from the quire directly into the vault itself.

In 1817  George IV requested that an entrance be made behind the altar,

which is now the main entrance to the Royal Vault.

The vault, which is not accessible to the public, is 82 ft long, 28 ft wide and 13 ft  high.

 

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