Why photo of the Queen alone at Prince Philip's funeral hit home in Covid times even as we 'get back to normal'

It was the heartbreaking image that truly paints a thousand words.

Sunday, 18th April 2021, 11:24 am
Updated Sunday, 18th April 2021, 11:44 am
The Queen sitting alone during Prince Philip's funeral struck a chord with many who have lost loved ones during the Covid pandemic. Photo: PA/Jonathan Brady

Grieving and alone, the powerful photograph of the Queen on one of her loneliest days will stick in the minds of many.

In a symbolic moment, she was pictured sitting alone in St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle, as she waited for the funeral procession carrying the Duke of Edinburgh’s coffin to arrive.

Dressed in black and wearing a face mask - a blessing perhaps to hide her face from the eyes of the world - with her black handbag occupying the empty seat next to her, she watched on as she bid a final farewell to her beloved husband of 73 years.

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Prince Philip's coffin being interred

Philip was the man she met as a young girl in a love story that has endured over the decades.

The Duke of Edinburgh was her closest confidant during the most difficult of times, he was her best friend and, above all, the bedrock of her happiness.

Whether you are a royalist or not, it’s hard not to feel moved by the image of what is essentially a grieving wife, parted from the rest of her family, mourning the loss of her husband at a funeral like no other.

And sadly this is a scene that has been repeated so many times over the last year. This photograph highlights the stark reality of a funeral during Covid times.

It is indiscriminate and cruel - nobody has been left untouched by this difficult period, not even the Royal family.

Every grieving family is faced with the difficult decision of who can and can’t be there on that final journey. This strict number in itself poses a dilemma at such a distressing time.

Yet sadly they are the lucky ones.

For those whose lives have been torn apart during the pandemic, so many more people have been denied the chance to say goodbye.

For many a funeral is the chance to not only celebrate the lives of those we have lost but it also provides a semblance of closure during a dark time.

Grief impacts us all in different ways but it is compounded further because people haven’t had the chance to say goodbye in the way they would have wanted.

And support during this time is going to be more important than ever as we continue to emerge from this unprecedented crisis.

As the haunting image of the Queen sitting alone was beamed across the global airwaves, so many people enjoyed their first weekend of freedom.

It was a refreshing sight to see new life breathed back into our city centre as nonessential retail and the outdoor hospitality sector burst back into life once more.

But we must make sure we don’t take these new found freedoms for granted, as we continue to emerge from the latest lockdown. We still have to remain cautious.

And as the nation and the city of Leeds raises a glass to the continued return towards ‘normality’, we must also spare a moment to remember the heartache so many families have endured over a year like no other.