United Kingdom

Choir of four whose voices rang out from the socially distant nave at Prince Philip's funeral

Just four voices filled St George's Chapel yesterday with music carefully chosen by the Duke of Edinburgh.

Three lay clerks of St George's Chapel Choir – singers who are not members of the clergy – were joined by classical soprano Miriam Allan to perform the programme, which included the seafaring hymn Eternal Father, Strong To Save.

Australian-born Ms Allan has appeared as a soloist with orchestras all over the world and is married to another of the Chapel's lay clerks, Richard Bannan.

Her husband is in no doubt about where the family's talents lie, saying in 2018: 'It's humbling. Things many of us find difficult to do, she can do without blinking.

Just four voices filled St George's Chapel yesterday with music carefully chosen by the Duke of Edinburgh

Three lay clerks of St George's Chapel Choir – singers who are not members of the clergy – were joined by classical soprano Miriam Allan (pictured) to perform the programme 

'She can operate at such a high level and answer a call on weeks or days' notice to do a job I'd be stressed about for months and months.'

In her spare time Ms Allan volunteers at the Breastfeeding Network which helps struggling new mothers.

Singing alongside her in the quartet, which performed away from the congregation in the Nave, were New Zealand-born tenor Nicholas Madden, alto Tom Lilburn and bass Simon Whiteley, all of whom live within the castle walls. 

They are also all members of the Queen's Six, a classical musical group established in 2008 on the 450th anniversary of the accession of Queen Elizabeth I.

At the moment, Covid restrictions prohibit congregational singing in places of worship.

The Duke was said to have been the guiding force behind many of the musical choices – played both before and during the service – and picked a wide range from Johann Sebastian Bach to Ralph Vaughan Williams.

The funeral also featured two pieces of music he commissioned from celebrated composers. 

The Jubilate in C was written by Benjamin Britten at the Duke's request in the early 1960s and has gone on to become a staple in cathedrals and churches across the country.

Prince Philip's funeral service included a hymn to honour his service at sea, a psalm that was sung at his 75th birthday party and buglers from the Royal Marines who played the Navy's 'Action Stations' battle signal. Pictured: The Queen watches on as the Duke of Edinburgh's coffin is placed on a catafalque on a marble slab in the Quire

After Philip's coffin was lowered into the 200-year-old vault in the chapel, buglers from the Royal Marines sounded both the Last Post and Action Stations - the signal played to crew on board a Royal Navy ship telling them to be ready for battle

Funeral guests also heard the choir sing Psalm 104, which was set to music by guitarist and composer William Lovelady at Philip's request.

Composed as a cantata in three movements, it was first sung in honour of the Duke's 75th birthday in 1996.

While yesterday's music was understandably more sombre in tone, the choir are not averse to covering more modern or upbeat music.

Mr Whiteley, who is a fan of rock band Nirvana, once suggested they might even perform the band's grunge hit 'Smells Like Teen Spirit' in front of the Queen.

The pared-down choir were conducted by James Vivian, the director of music at St George's Chapel.

The Queen and Prince Philip attending a gala performance of Our Extraordinary World at The Royal Opera House on October 30, 2012 in London. The Duke is pictured with a pocket square. There is no suggestion she kept this pocket square on her

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