Four proud military Salopians play key roles at Prince Philip's funeral

Four proud Salopians played key roles as the Duke of Edinburgh was laid to rest at Windsor Castle in a service watched by millions of viewers around the world.

Guardsman Sam Tudor, 21, of Telford, of the 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards (second on the right) carries the duke's coffin
Guardsman Sam Tudor, 21, of Telford, of the 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards (second on the right) carries the duke's coffin

Warrant Officer Class One Garrison Sergeant Major Andrew ‘Vern’ Stokes, from Telford, was responsible for organising the ceremonial military parade.

Taking part as a pall bearer was Guardsman Sam Tudor, of Wellington, of the 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards who said on Sunday that his participation had not yet sunk in.

The 21-year-old was pictured helping to carry the coffin when it was first seen in the Windsor Castle quadrangle and was chosen for the job due to his height.

The former Ercall Wood School pupil, who joined up almost five years ago, explained: "I had been on a number of parades attended by the Royal Family previously including the weddings of Princess Eugenie and Princess Beatrice, two Trooping of the Colours. And I was there when the Duke handed over being the colonel of the regiment to Prince Andrew.

"As far as carrying his coffin is concerned, we look at it from the perspective that it's someone's husband, dad and grandad, and so we wanted it to go a well as possible. It was an honour to be a part of it, although it still hasn't really sunk in.

"I was chosen to to take part because I'm one of the tallest in the Queen's Company. Our height, how we look in our uniform and other things all get taken into account."

The military ceremony was organised by Sergeant Major Andrew ‘Vern’ Stokes, from Telford

His parents Dave and Kerry Tudor, of Wellington, Telford, said they were "super proud" of his achievements.

"He went in at 16 and he’s accomplished so much since," his mother Kerry said.

Meanwhile Able Seaman Sam Tait, 17, from Telford, was the youngest member of the military involved in the procession, and stood to attention outside St George's Chapel in Windsor Castle as the Royal Family walked behind the Duke of Edinburgh's coffin.

His father, Royal Marines drill instructor Colour Sergeant Graham Tait was one of the pall bearers who took the duke's coffin from the custom built bronze green Land Rover hearse into the chapel.

Royal Marines carried the coffin into the chapel on Saturday

Sam's mother Andrea watched on proudly from home and said: "It's massive for all the family. Sam phoned me afterwards and said he was in awe of what's just happened.

"He said it was the most amazing feeling to be part of it. He said he has volunteered to do the Remembrance Parade in November. It was very moving. I thought it was really fitting and appropriate."

There is a long military history in the family. Sam, who is an aircraft engineer technician based at HMS Heron in Yeovil, Somerset, is doing the same job at the same location as his late great-grandfather Peter Moth did many years ago, and was so keen to join the forces he signed up at the Shrewsbury recruitment centre in the Square on the first day he could, aged 15 and nine months.

The Duke of Edinburgh died at Windsor Castle on April 9, aged 99. His life and legacy were remembered during a funeral service reflecting his naval career, passion for engineering and dedication to the Queen.

The military event is one of many that Sergeant Major Stokes has helped organise and follows the funeral of Vera Lynn last summer.

All branches of the military were represented in Windsor

Sergeant Major Stokes, who is based in London but has a family home in Ironbridge, has military responsibility for important state occasions such as Trooping of the Colour and state visits such as that of French president Macron last year.

During Saturday's funeral, the duke was described as enriching the lives of all those he knew with his "kindness, humour and humanity".

The day was one of contrasts, a spectacle of pomp and pageantry provided by the many regiments and military units associated with Philip during his long association with the Armed Forces who took part.

In bright brilliant sunshine the funeral procession made its way through the precincts of the castle.

Among the pall bearers was Colour Sergeant Graham Tait, of Oswestry

Philip's children - Prince of Wales, Princess Royal, Duke of York and Earl of Wessex - walked behind his coffin carried by a Land Rover Defender hearse the Queen's consort helped design.

They were joined by the duke's grandsons the Duke of Sussex, Duke of Cambridge and Peter Phillips and Vice Admiral Tim Lawrence, the Princess Royal's husband, and the Queen's nephew the Earl of Snowdon.

The royals walked in step as a military band played and all stared straight ahead into the sun as they made their way to the duke's final resting place past Able Seaman Sam Tait and members of all branches of the military.

Cutting a solitary figure at the front of the quire, nearest the altar, the Queen sat apart from her children during the service in St George's Chapel, while William and Harry were seated opposite one another.

The Duke's love of the sea and long association with the Royal Navy permeated the service reduced choir of four singing the hymn "Eternal Father, Strong to Save" - traditionally associated with seafarers and the maritime armed services.

The duke's coffin was also slowly lowered into the royal vault as his titles were read out.

It was draped with his personal standard and alongside the wreath was his Admiral of the Fleet Naval cap and sword.

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