Amid the emotional funeral service for Prince Philip over the weekend, one small detail seemed to stand out for observers — Queen Elizabeth’s handwritten letter, which she placed atop her late husband’s casket. As it turns out, the touching missive was even more meaningful than many realized.
ET spoke with royal expert Katie Nicholl, who explained the significance of Queen Elizabeth’s special signature on the private, sealed letter.
“I think one of the most touching things in the whole of the service — and there were many very poignant moments — but certainly seeing the duke’s naval cap, his ceremonial sword, that beautiful wreath of flowers, his favorite flowers, white roses and freesia, chosen by the queen that sat atop the coffin with a carefully positioned handwritten note,” Nicholl recalled.
“You actually really couldn’t make out much of the writing but we know it was from the Queen,” she explained. “We believe that it was signed ‘Lilibet’ which was the duke’s name for the Queen.”
“He is probably the last person to have called her Lilibet. It’s not a name that anyone else uses and I think there will be great poignancy in that,” Nicholl shared. “She will never be called Lilibet again.”
The couple, who got married in 1947, famously penned love letters to each other over the course of their relationship. Their romance started when Elizabeth was just 13 years old and continued until Philip’s death.
During Philip’s service, the queen sat alone in the pews of St. George Chapel, where she would regularly be seen with her husband by her side.
The members of the royal family gathered to say goodbye. In attendance at the service was Prince Charles, grandsons Prince William and Prince Harry, Kate Middleton, Camila, Duchess of Cornwall and many others. Philip died on April 9 at the age of 99, leaving behind four children, eight grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren.
The service was an intimate affair with only 30 people in attendance. Before his death, Philip had a hand in making his own funeral plans, opting for a smaller gathering rather than a state funeral, which he was entitled to as the queen’s consort.
For more on the late royal, see below.
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