Prince Philip's inside joke with the Queen that inspired his Land Rover hearse

PRINCE Philip’s Land Rover hearse was inspired by an inside joke with the Queen.

The Duke of Edinburgh’s final journey during his funeral at Windsor yesterday was on the back of a modified Land Rover he helped design rather than a traditional gun carriage.

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This detail was in line with what he had requested under Operation Forth Bridge.

And the idea for the hearse started out as a joke; according to reports from the Mirror, Philip once told the Queen that when he died she should “just stick me in the back of a Land Rover and drive me to Windsor”.

In preparation for his funeral, the Duke decided to turn this into a reality.

Speaking to the Mirror, the chief engineer who worked on the vehicle, Steve Routly, said the vehicle had been designed in a hush-hush operation.

Few people knew about the vehicle, other than the 30 engineers who had worked on it.

The vehicle was kept in a temperature-controlled compound a few miles from the Jaguar Land Rover HQ in Coventry for years after it was finished.

“The Duke’s Land Rover had been in there for a decade, being regularly serviced and looked after for when it might be needed,” Routly said.

Routly said the coffin was made at the same time, because the rollers had to be measured to the exact size.

Philip was ferried in the vehicle, flanked by military pall bearers, at walking pace for eight minutes on a route inside Windsor Castle grounds to St George's Chape yesterday.

Senior Royals including Prince Charles followed behind on foot, with Princes William and Harry in tow, along with Princess Anne and Princes Edward and Andrew.

The Land Rover was a green modified Defender 130 Gun Bus.

Prince Philip is believed to have chosen the Land Rover out of his love for them, having been a driver of the four-wheel drive vehicles for decades.

It was worked on by Foley Specialist Vehicles, based in Harlow, Essex, after a 45-minute meeting with the Duke at Sandringham.

He had a close relationship with the firm’s bosses and is said to have frequently visited the team after starting the design of the hearse when he was 83.

In a further nod to the Duke of Edinburgh’s green credentials, the modified Land Rover Defender 130 Gun Bus he had a hand in designing was a hybrid.

A senior Buckingham Palace official said: “The Duke of Edinburgh had a hand many years ago in the design of these vehicles.”

The Palace website adds: "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."

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