Naval battle cry Action Stations to sound at funeral at duke’s request

The military warning will be played by Buglers of the Royal Marines.

Duke of Edinburgh death
Duke of Edinburgh death

Action Stations, sounded on naval warships to signal all hands must go to battle stations, will be played at the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral at Philip’s specific request.

Buglers of the Royal Marines will perform the wartime alert, a tradition sometimes associated with naval funerals, in honour of Philip’s active service in the Royal Navy during the Second World War.

And the Last Post will be played to signify “a soldier has gone to his final rest”.

Duke of Edinburgh death
The bugler leading The Last Post at the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral, Sergeant Bugler Jamie Ritchie, I/C Corps of Drums, Royal Marines (Victoria Jones/PA)

A senior Palace official said: “Action Stations is a naval tradition and it is an announcement that would be made on a naval warship to signify that all hands, all those serving, on that warship should go into battle stations.”

The duke wanted the call to echo around the vast 15th century St George’s Chapel as his family gathered for his ceremonial royal farewell on Saturday.

A Palace spokesman said: “I think it just goes to show the level of detail that the duke went into around his own funeral service.

“It is a fitting testimony to remind many people who might not realise that the duke saw active service in the Second World War aboard a ship in the Royal Navy.”

The official added: “The Last Post bugle call signifies the end of the day’s activities, or, on this occasion, that a soldier has gone to his final rest.”

The duke, who died on Friday aged 99, was mentioned in despatches for his service during the war.

He was a midshipman aboard HMS Valiant off the southern coast of Greece when he earned his honourable citation.

The duke in Malta
Philip transferring between ships by jackstay in Malta (PA)

A young naval officer, he was praised for his actions in the decisive Battle of Cape Matapan against the Italian fleet in March 1941.

Philip had been in control of the searchlights as the ship battled an Italian cruiser when he spotted an unexpected second enemy vessel nearby.

At the age of 21, Philip was one of the youngest officers in the Royal Navy to be made First Lieutenant and second-in-command of a ship, the destroyer escort HMS Wallace of the Rosyth Escort Force.

In July 1943, Wallace was dispatched to the Mediterranean and provided cover for the Canadian beachhead of the Allied landings in Sicily.

Philip also served as First Lieutenant on the destroyer HMS Whelp in the Pacific, where he helped to rescue two airmen in 1945.

Had the duke not married Princess Elizabeth, some believe he would have been First Sea Lord, the professional head of the Royal Navy.

He once spoke of his fascination with the sea in a rare interview in 1998 to mark his 50 years as trustee of the National Maritime Museum.

Referring to it as “an extraordinary master or mistress”, he declared: “It has such extraordinary moods that sometimes you feel this is the only sort of life and 10 minutes later you’re praying for death.”

Action Stations will be sounded near the end of service.

The duke, in his Naval uniform, with the Queen
The duke, in his Naval uniform, with the Queen (PA)

The Dean of Windsor will give the Commendation as the coffin is lowered into the Royal Vault, beneath the Quire, using a mechanical motor.

The Garter Principal King of Arms will then proclaim Philip’s Styles and Titles from the Sanctuary.

A Lament will then be played by a pipe major of the Royal Regiment of Scotland, and the Last Post will be sounded by Buglers of the Royal Marines from the west end of the Nave.

After a period of silence, the Reveille, used to wake the military at sunrise, will be sounded by the State Trumpeters of the Household Cavalry from the west end of the Nave.

The Buglers of the Royal Marines will sound Action Stations, which will be followed by the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Blessing and the singing of the National Anthem by only the four members of the choir.

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