Prince Philip helped design Land Rover that will carry his coffin

Vehicle believed to be modified Defender 130 Gun Bus

Tom Batchelor@_tombatchelor
Sunday 11 April 2021 10:50
Prince Philip leaves hospital

The Land Rover that will be used to transport the Duke of Edinburgh's coffin in a ceremonial funeral procession through the grounds of Windsor Castle next week was designed with help from him, it has emerged.

In a tribute to Prince Philip, the cortege will see a purpose-built vehicle used that was specially modified to carry a coffin in a project that the duke helped with more than a decade ago.

The vehicle is believed to be a modified Defender 130 Gun Bus, which was commissioned in 2005. In 2016, Foley Specialist Vehicles said it delivered a totally rebuilt Gun Bus to Philip for use on his estates.

It was made to his specifications in traditional deep bronze green, and built onto a galvanised chassis and hand–built rear body.

The Land Rover will process through the grounds of the castle ahead of the duke's funeral on Saturday at St George's Chapel.

A bearer party from the Grenadier Guards will place the coffin on the Land Rover at the state entrance of the castle, before the vehicle begins the eight-minute journey – at walking pace – to the west steps of the chapel.

It will be flanked by pall bearers reflecting the duke's special relationships with the military – the Royal Marines, Regiments, Corps and Air Stations.

Immediately behind the Land Rover, the Prince of Wales and other members of the royal family, likely to be the duke's other children and some of his grandchildren, will proceed on foot.

The Duke of Edinburgh, then aged 97, was left “very shocked” and shaken when the Land Rover Discovery he was driving was involved in a collision with a Kia as he drove near the Queen’s Sandringham estate

In 2019, the duke, then 97, was driving a Land Rover Freelander when he was involved in a serious car crash involving a mother and a baby.

The car Philip was driving was hit by another vehicle when he pulled out of a driveway on the Sandringham estate in Norfolk on to a busy A road, after being dazzled by the low sun.

The duke's car flipped over and he was trapped, and had to be rescued through the sunroof by a passing motorist. He was miraculously unscathed.

The baby was unhurt, but both women in the other vehicle had to be treated in hospital, and one broke her wrist.

Three weeks after the crash, Buckingham Palace announced that Philip's driving days on public roads were finally over and that he had voluntarily surrendered his driving licence.

The CPS later confirmed Philip would face no action over the crash.

The Land Rover's role in the funeral proceedings always formed part of Operation Forth Bridge – the codename given to the plans following Philip's death.

But before the pandemic, it was planned the vehicle would transport the duke's coffin from Wellington Arch in central London to Windsor, and travel up the Long Walk, with members of the royal family joining the procession part way and walking through Windsor town centre to the castle.

All public elements of the funeral have been removed – including large-scale processions through London and Windsor – so as not to draw crowds during the coronavirus crisis.

A Palace spokesman said: “The duke had a great interest in design so that is where the involvement of the Land Rover comes from.

”The Land Rover was very much part of the original plans as approved by the duke.“

A senior Palace official added: ”The Duke of Edinburgh had a hand many years ago in the design of these vehicles.“

Following the duke's death at the age of 99 on Friday, Jaguar Land Rover paid tribute, highlighting Philip's ”significant contribution to UK manufacturing, engineering and design“.

The firm said on Twitter: ”We are deeply saddened by the passing of His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.

“Our thoughts are with Her Majesty The Queen & Royal Family. The Duke devoted his life to public service & made a significant contribution to UK manufacturing, engineering & design.”

Additional reporting by PA

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