A Land Rover designed by Prince Philip himself in a project that he began 18 years ago will fittingly transport his coffin from Windsor Castle to St. George's Chapel for Saturday's funeral ceremonies.
Philip, who died at 99 on April 9, loved the rugged, British-made vehicles, and he even had a hand in creating the Land Rover that has been modified to hold a coffin.
Watch TODAY All Day! Get the best news, information and inspiration from TODAY, all day long.
"His Royal Highness’s coffin will be carried in a purpose-built Land Rover - which The Duke was involved in the design of - flanked by military pall bearers, in a small ceremonial procession from the State Entrance to St. George’s Chapel, for the funeral service," Buckingham Palace announced last week.
The palace released more details about the hearse on Thursday, specifying that it was built using a Land Rover Defender TD5 130 chassis cab vehicle made in 2003 and then modified to hold a coffin. An open top rear section was custom built to Philip's specification and will carry his coffin, according to the palace.
ITV reporter Chris Ship shared a first look at the specially-designed vehicle on Twitter Thursday.
The vehicle was painted dark bronze green, the color used by many military Land Rovers, at Prince Philip's request. Other final modifications to the vehicle were made in 2019.
"We are deeply privileged to have enjoyed a very long and happy association with The Duke of Edinburgh over many decades," Thierry Bolloré, Jaguar Land Rover’s CEO, said in a statement. "We are also honoured that the Land Rover which The Duke designed will be used at the funeral on Saturday.
"The Duke was a tremendous champion for design, engineering and technology. During his visits to our sites he engaged with hundreds of employees and demonstrated his impressive knowledge and deep interest in vehicle design, engineering and manufacturing. The Duke was a truly remarkable man and will be greatly missed.”
The funeral ceremony will not involve the usual long, public process in the streets of London because of Philip's wishes and the royal family wanting to avoid large crowds gathering during the pandemic.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Monday that the special Land Rover is a fitting symbol for the prince because it's a reminder that he "could take something very traditional … and find a way, by his own ingenuity, to improve it, to adapt it for the 20th and the 21st century."
Land Rover also paid tribute to Philip on the day of his death.
"We are deeply saddened by the passing of His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh," the company tweeted. "Our thoughts are with Her Majesty The Queen & Royal Family. The Duke devoted his life to public service & made a significant contribution to UK manufacturing, engineering & design."
The Duke of Edinburgh was often seen behind the wheel of Land Rovers from the 1970s until only two years before his death.
When he was 94, he hopped into the driver's seat of a Range Rover and served as an impromptu chauffeur for President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama during a 2016 visit to Windsor Castle, according to The Guardian. The president rode shotgun, while the first lady and Queen Elizabeth II sat in the back for a short drive from Marine One to the castle.
Philip was also behind the wheel of a Land Rover when his public driving days effectively came to an end after a frightening crash in 2019. Philip, who was 97 at the time, flipped his Land Rover after colliding with another vehicle on a road near Sandringham Estate.
A 9-month-old baby was in the back seat of the other car but did not sustain any injuries, while the driver had cuts to her knees and a passenger suffered a broken wrist.
The duke did not suffer any injuries, but he surrendered his driver's license, ending his days on public roads.