Prince Philip: Duke of Edinburgh’s custom-built Land Rover hearse unveiled for first time ahead of funeral
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Philip’s project to custom design his very own Land Rover hearse spanned 16 years, with the Duke requesting a repaint in military green and designing the open top rear and special “stops” to secure his coffin in place.
The duke, who died aged 99 on Friday, made the final adjustments in 2019, the year he turned 98.
He first began the long-lasting venture to create his own bespoke hearse in collaboration with Land Rover in 2003, the year he turned 82.
The polished sturdy, utilitarian vehicle, with its heavy duty wheels and angular structure, stands as a showcase for the duke’s practical nature, and his passion for functional design and engineering.
The Defender was made at Land Rover’s factory in Solihull in 2003 and Philip oversaw the modifications throughout the intervening years.
The duke, who served with distinction in the Second World War and held special associations with all the Armed Forces, requested that the original Belize Green bodywork be switched to Dark Bronze Green, a colour used for many military Land Rovers.
He also designed the open top rear section where his coffin will rest, made to his exact specifications, including the rubber grips on silver metal pins known as the “stops” or “stoppers” which perform the crucial task of preventing the coffin from moving.
Details on the vehicle include matching green hubs, a black front grille, a single cab and no registration plates.
Eighteen years after the duke began the Land Rover project, the vehicle will finally be used for its intended function on Saturday.
The vehicle will ferry Philip’s coffin in a slow procession from the state entrance of Windsor Castle through the grounds to the west steps of St George’s Chapel, followed by the Prince of Wales and other members of the royal family on foot.
Land Rover has maintained the vehicle since it was built and has prepared it for the funeral in collaboration with the Royal Household.
Thierry Bollore, Jaguar Land Rover’s chief executive hailed Philip’s “impressive knowledge and deep interest in vehicle design, engineering and manufacturing”.
“We are deeply privileged to have enjoyed a very long and happy association with the Duke of Edinburgh over many decades,” he said
“We are also honoured that the Land Rover which the duke designed will be used at the funeral on Saturday.
“The duke was a tremendous champion for design, engineering and technology.
“During his visits to our sites he engaged with hundreds of employees and demonstrated his impressive knowledge and deep interest in vehicle design, engineering and manufacturing.
“The duke was a truly remarkable man and will be greatly missed.”
The duke used Land Rovers throughout his adult life and granted his Royal Warrant to Land Rover over 40 years ago.
Palace officials have told how the duke’s interest in design sparked his desire to make the Land Rover and include it in his funeral plans, codenamed Operation Forth Bridge.
Two Land Rovers were made for “belt and braces” in case a backup was needed.