It is a very different mode of transport from other royal ceremonial funerals. The coffins of Princess Diana and the Queen Mother were both carried by horse-drawn gun carriage.
But Philip was known as a tinkerer and champion of engineering. And Land Rover is a vehicle that was connected to him throughout his life.
The duke, who died April 9, worked in collaboration with Land Rover to adapt one of their vehicles — the Defender TD5 130 chassis cab — to include an open-top rear section that could hold a coffin and rubber grips to secure it in place.
The vehicle was also painted, at the prince’s request, dark bronze green, like many military Land Rovers.
The project spanned 16 years, beginning in 2003, the year prince turned 82. The final alterations were made in 2019.
On Saturday afternoon, the Land Rover will carry Philip’s coffin for a short journey through the grounds of Windsor Castle to St. George’s Chapel.
In Parliament earlier this week, Prime Minister Boris Johnson hailed the duke as an innovator: someone who designed jewelry for his wife, modernized the royal household and dazzled prime ministers with a bespoke barbecue that included a rotisserie and compartments for sauces.
Referring to the modified Land Rover, Johnson said the vehicle’s “unique and idiosyncratic silhouette” will remind the world that “he was, above all, a practical man, who could take something very traditional, whether a machine or indeed a great national institution, and find a way by his own ingenuity to improve it, to adapt it for the 20th and 21st century.”
The British royal family has had a long love affair with Land Rovers. Forty years ago, Philip granted his “Royal Warrant” to the British firm, a kind of seal of approval that tells the world that the senior royals do regular business with the company.
When Queen Elizabeth II opened Jaguar Land Rover’s new engine manufacturing center in 2014, Philip was there by her side.
He was also driving a Land Rover when he was involved in an accident near the Sandringham estate in 2019. He said he was blinded by the low sun when he collided with another car. Days after the accident, Philip, who was 97 at the time, was photographed behind the wheel of a different Land Rover not wearing a seat belt. Not long afterward, Buckingham Palace released a statement saying that he had taken the decision to “voluntarily surrender his driving licence.”
Under the original funeral plans — code name Operation Forth Bridge — the modified vehicle was supposed to transport Philip’s casket 23 miles from Wellington Arch in London to the town of Windsor. But those plans were scrapped because of the pandemic. The palace says that although the funeral has been altered to comply with lockdown guidelines, “the ceremonial aspects of the day and the Funeral Service itself are in line with The Duke’s wishes and will reflect His Royal Highness’s personal and military affiliations.”
The duke reportedly wanted little fuss at his funeral. According to British media reports, Philip once told the queen of the arrangements: “Just stick me in the back of a Land Rover and drive me to Windsor.”