Prior to his passing, Prince Philip arranged for the royal family photographer to be situated inside a fake church pillar to allow him to capture personal moments during Prince’s funeral.
Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, and Queen Elizabeth’s late husband was personally involved in making arrangements for his own funeral, which included asking Arthur Edwards — a photographer who has captured the royal family for over 40 years — to document the funeral up-close and personal, by hiding inside a fake church pillar at the top of the stairs leading to St. George’s Chapel, as reported by the NZ Herald.
Edwards, who works for the British tabloid newspaper The Sun, specializes in photographing the royals. After he first took photographs of teenage Princess Diana in 1980, he began forming a relationship with the royals and so far has documented more than 200 royal tours across 120 countries, and has been present for several royal births, weddings, and funerals. His status as one of the royal family’s preferred photographers was confirmed in 2003 when the Queen made him a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) for “outstanding service to newspapers.”
Upon close examination of the photos from the funeral, Edwards can be seen behind a pillar, on the top left corner of the steps, looking through “a letterbox-shaped slit,” which reminds him of “the bird-watching hides where Prince Philip spent hours of his retirement at Sandringham.” The position gave the photographer an opportunity to capture moments “just two yards away from the raw emotion of the Royal Family,” including Prince Charles’ emotional goodbye to his father without disturbing the event.
With Edwards’ close relationship to the royals, the photographer explains that it was an emotional task to photograph the funeral procession, especially as he witnessed the family’s grief up close. Although hidden away in the pillar, Edwards explains that when seeing Prince Philip’s coffin go past, he was “overwhelmed with memories of an incredible man” whom he had documented for 40 years during his career.
The Duke’s funeral took place on 17 April 2021. The royal ceremony respected Prince Philip’s wishes for a “no fuss” celebration of the 99-year old’s life, including a request to transport his coffin in a Dark Bronze Green Land Rover Defender hearse, which he had designed himself.
Image credits: Header image by Myles Cullen via Wikimedia Commons.