United Kingdom

Land Rover hearse that Philip designed himself is unveiled

For 16 years Prince Philip tinkered and toiled on a secret project he knew he would never live to see used - the hearse to carry his own coffin.

Now, two days before his funeral on Saturday, the custom-made Land Rover designed by the Duke has been unveiled for the first time.

His work on the bespoke Land Rover Defender TD5 130 chassis cab begun in 2003, the year he turned 82, and was finished aged 98 in 2019.

The open top rear has been modified to fit his coffin and equipped with special rubber grips on silver pins - known as the 'stops' - to keep it secure while it makes the journey through Windsor to St George's Chapel.  

A military man to his core, Philip also requested the original Belize Green paintwork was changed to Dark Bronze Green like those used by the armed forces. 

Now, two days before his funeral on Saturday, the custom-made Land Rover designed by the Duke has been unveiled for the first time

The Land Rover Defender hearse that will carry Philip's coffin is seen for the first time as it is driven into Windsor Castle today

His work on the bespoke Land Rover Defender TD5 130 chassis cab begun in 2003, the year he turned 82, and was finished aged 98 in 2019

The open top rear has been modified to fit his coffin and equipped with special rubber grips on silver pins - known as the 'stops' - to keep it secure while it makes the journey through Windsor to St George's Chapel

For 16 years Prince Philip tinkered and toiled on a secret project he knew he would never live to see used - the hearse to carry his own coffin

The military green repaint was one of many modifications Philip made to the vehicle, that was first built a the manufacturer's Solihull factory.  

With heavy duty wheels and angular structure, the sturdy design stands testament to the Duke's penchant for engineering and functionality. 

Indeed, Jaguar Land Rover's chief executive has admired Philip's handiwork, hailing his 'impressive knowledge and deep interest in vehicle design, engineering and manufacturing'. 

Land Rover has maintained the vehicle since it was built and has prepared it for the funeral in collaboration with the Royal Household.

Chief executive Thierry Bollore said: 'We are deeply privileged to have enjoyed a very long and happy association with the Duke of Edinburgh over many decades.

'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 military green repaint was one of many modifications Philip made to the vehicle, that was first built a the manufacturer's Solihull factory

Details on the vehicle include matching green hubs, a black front grille, a single cab and no registration plates

With heavy duty wheels and angular structure, the sturdy design stands testament to the Duke's penchant for engineering and functionality

Details on the vehicle include matching green hubs, a black front grille, a single cab and no registration plates. 

The Duke used Land Rovers throughout his adult life and granted his Royal Warrant to Land Rover over 40 years ago.

He visited Jaguar Land Rover's manufacturing facilities on numerous occasions over the decades and accompanied the Queen when she opened Jaguar Land Rover's new Engine Manufacturing Centre in Wolverhampton in 2014.

The Land Rover's original role would also have been to transport the duke 22 miles from Wellington Arch in central London to Windsor, but the coronavirus pandemic curtailed the long-held plans for military parades in honour of Philip through the streets of both the capital and the Berkshire town.

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

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.

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.

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