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Sailors and Marines' key role in Duke of Edinburgh's funeral

Sailors and Marines' key role in Duke of Edinburgh's funeral
17 April 2021
Sailors and Royal Marines will today join hundreds of fellow Service personnel paying their respects at the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral.

After a week of intensive training at HMS Collingwood and the Army’s base at Pirbright in Surrey, they will form part of the 750-strong military presence in the final act of the Duke’s long, dutiful life in Windsor.

In addition, guns will fire in Portsmouth, Devonport and Royal Navy warships deployed overseas to mark the beginning and end of one minute’s silence to remember Prince Philip.

Four Royal Marines buglers will sound both the Last Post and, at the Duke’s request, the wartime rallying call Action Stations during the service in St George’s Chapel.

Also performing are the Band of Her Majesty’s Royal Marines from the Commando Training Centre at Lympstone in Devon under the direction of the Principal Director of Music Lieutenant Colonel Jason Burcham RM and led by Corps Drum Major Warrant Officer 1st Class Colin Brown.

Royal Marines of 40 Commando at Norton Manor, near Taunton, and from Lympstone will also form up on the grass in the Quadrangle of Windsor Castle, alongside sailors from HMS Magpie plus the Royal Fleet Auxiliary, naval bases HMS Sultan and Collingwood, Royal Naval Air Station Yeovilton and 1710 Naval Air Squadron.

And Charlie Company from 40 Commando, plus Royal Marines from Lympstone, and sailors from HMS Queen Elizabeth, Magpie, Nelson, Sultan and RNAS Yeovilton will line the route of procession.

In many cases, personnel were recalled from Easter leave on the day of the Duke’s death and have been preparing for their participation in today’s funeral since last Saturday.

Three sailors are representing survey ship HMS Magpie – named after the only warship Prince Philip commanded during his 14-year Naval service.

The Duke never had the opportunity to visit the hi-tech craft, which conducts detailed surveys of key harbours and ports around the UK, but he received regular updates on Magpie’s deeds and among one of his last acts was to approve the ship’s motto (lux in tenebris lucet – shine light into darkness) earlier this year.

Magpie’s new Commanding Officer Lieutenant Commander Hywel Morgan will lead the Royal Navy contingent in the military Guard of Honour formed for today’s ceremony.

Even though he was a man of few words, the great thing about Prince Philip is how relatable he made you feel. He made you feel calm and welcome in his presence.

Sergeant Jamie Ritchie

“Our affiliation on HMS Magpie with the Duke of Edinburgh runs deep. It seems right and proper to be Captain of the Royal Navy’s Guard of Honour contingent as the nation bids him farewell,” said the 33-year-old from the Rhondda Valley.

“The State Ceremonial team have done their absolute best to help us get into shape. It’s been an intense period with people coming from all over the country to begin training on Saturday morning, getting to grips with rifle drills, working together, moving around the parade ground as one.”

Leading the Royal Marines Buglers is Sergeant Jamie Ritchie from Dundee, who performed on several occasions for the Duke in the latter’s capacity as Captain General Royal Marines and also presented the 31-year-old with his medal for service in Afghanistan.

“Even though he was a man of few words, the great thing about Prince Philip is how relatable he made you feel. He made you feel calm and welcome in his presence,” he said.

Much of the last week’s training has focused on ensuring all four buglers sound in unison; both calls are more typically performed individually.

“We know the Last Post inside out – but it is a little different when four people play it. So we’ve been making sure we are ‘dialled in’ to each other right down to the millisecond,” Jamie added.

“I know I will always look back on this as such an honour and privilege. Prince Philip was our Captain General for over 64 years and a highly-respected member of the Royal Family with a strong Royal Navy heritage.”

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