Dressed head to toe in black, except for the trim on her mask, Queen Elizabeth II’s face was barely visible as she said goodbye to Prince Philip, the man who had shown her unwavering loyalty for so many decades.
Her solitude was apparent from the start of proceedings, when, in a departure from royal protocol, she entered a state Bentley to travel at the end of the procession, rather than the head.
After so many years standing by the Queen’s side, and in her shadow, the prince’s final journey had him leading the family, his coffin draped in his personal standard, naval cap and sword on the back of a Land Rover he had custom built.
As the procession arrived at St George’s Chapel, the Queen returned to her customary place at the head of her family and the nation.
Pausing briefly on the precipice as the final Minute Gun fired, she entered the gothic cathedral first and quietly took her place alone in the pews, perhaps the most striking image in a day of poignant moments.
Following strict social distancing rules during the pandemic, the invited royals were seated in their own households in spaces around the chapel in accordance with coronavirus rules.
The Queen, with Prince Philip no longer by her side, was no exception.
Prince William and Prince Harry, who reunited publicly following the service, were seated opposite each other inside the cavernous chapel.
But while William was with his wife, the Duchess of Cambridge, Harry was alone.
“With grateful hearts we remember the many ways in which his long life has been a blessing to us,” Dean of Windsor David Conner said, beginning the service.
“We have been inspired by his unwavering loyalty to our Queen, by his service to the nation, and the Commonwealth, by his courage, fortitude and faith.”
Just 30 mourners were allowed to attend the service at St George’s Chapel on the grounds of Windsor Castle, where the queen has shielded from COVID-19.
Royal commentator Katie Nicholl said the Queen’s face mask “may have been a blessing”, as it shielded her grief.
“There will be people watching at home who will recognise what the Queen has gone through and I think everybody’s sympathies will be with her.
“She was stoic but she was very much solo and I think it was quite heartbreaking to see her sitting there all alone, a very sombre image and one I think that everyone will be reflecting on today.”