The ceremonial funeral of the Duke of Edinburgh will see his coffin being transported to Windsor Castle chapel by a bespoke Land Rover Defender TD5 130, partially designed by the prince himself.
The specially-built hearse was in the works at Land Rover’s factory, in Solihull, in the West Midlands, since 2003, when the duke first approached Jaguar Land Rover with the idea. The vehicle is now ready to fulfil its intended function – albeit with the pandemic having altered original plans for the hearse to be driven to the castle from London.
The Defender has always been designed for functionality - from conflict zones to humanitarian disasters, far-flung research projects to domestic farmsteads. Because it was designed to operate in all terrains and all weathers, the SUV has come to represent a vision of an industrious, intrepid Britain.
Commentators believe it symbolises Prince Philip’s passion for engineering and practicality – but it’s also a vehicle that belongs to the same era, possessing something of the same aura, as the departing duke.
The duke saw to it that his funeral hearse would bear several features of his own choosing. Most significantly, he reportedly designed the Defender’s open top rear section, including the rubber and silver fittings that will secure his coffin on its journey to St George’s Chapel.
The military also feature. On the duke’s behest, the livery has been changed from the original Belize Green to Dark Bronze Green – the shade of green used by the military. Other details, such as the matching green hubs and black front grille, give the Defender a further stripped-back, martial quality.
The last royal funeral was held for the Queen Mother back in 2002, during which a more familiar horse-drawn hearse transported her coffin. So the duke’s funeral will certainly be distinctive, swapping hooves for off-road tyres, and mourning black for military green.