In life, Prince Philip relished getting behind the wheel of a Land Rover and taking the rugged British vehicles out for a drive.
Now, he will be ferried to his funeral Saturday in a bespoke Land Rover hearse that he helped design.
Instead of the traditional black, the Duke of Edinburgh’s casket will be transported to St. George’s Chapel in a vehicle painted a shade that Buckingham Palace called a dark bronze green.
It’s the same color that the British military uses for many of its Land Rovers and which the prince, who gave up his Navy career after his wife ascended the throne, insisted on as part of the design.
“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 chief executive said in a statement released by the palace. “We are also honored that the Land Rover which the duke designed will be used at the funeral on Saturday.”
Philip began consulting on the design with Land Rover’s engineers some 18 years before he died April 9 at age 99, the palace said.
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Built in 2003 on a Defender TD5 chassis at Land Rover’s factory in Solihull, northwest of London, the rear of the vehicle was modified to make it more like a pickup truck capable of carrying Philip’s coffin and “was designed and custom-made to the duke’s specification,” the palace said.
Further modifications, which reportedly included rubber grips designed to keep the casket in place, were made up until 2019, the palace said.
Bolloré referred to Philip's lifelong interest in technology and how it could transform people's lives.
“The duke was a tremendous champion for design, engineering and technology,” he said. “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.”
Philip had a keen interest in cars, especially British-made ones like the Land Rover which got his personal seal of approval, or “Royal Warrant,” 40 years ago. He also visited Jaguar Land Rover’s manufacturing plants numerous times and accompanied Queen Elizabeth II in 2014 when she formally opened the company’s new engine plant in Wolverhampton.
As a newlywed, Philip favored British sports cars and fell in love with the Range Rover when it was first introduced in the 1970s, according to Car and Driver magazine.
That love affair lasted the rest of his life.
In 2016, when then-President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama arrived at Windsor Castle by helicopter for lunch with the queen, Philip surprised reporters by hopping behind the wheel of a Range Rover and insisting on driving America’s first couple and the queen to the castle. It was only about a 400-yard drive, but Philip was 94 at the time.
Philip reluctantly surrendered his driver’s license just two years ago after he got into a car accident that left the woman at the wheel of the other vehicle, a Kia, with a broken arm.
The prince, who was not injured in the wreck, was driving a Land Rover.