An extremely rare set of honours were bestowed on the late Duke of Edinburgh’s most devoted and steadfast aides. Her Majesty presented these unique honours on what would have been Prince Philip’s 100th birthday.
These special awards, referred to as ‘Demise’ awards, were given to the longest-serving and closest people to the Duke, in recognition of their service to him. This gesture is a very personal one from The Queen, now a widow.
The Duke of Edinburgh’s long-time private secretary, treasurer and right-hand-man since 2010, Brigadier Archie Miller-Bakewell, was made a Commander of the Royal Victorian Order (CVO), the top rung of the order.
It was Miller-Bakewell who also registered the royal death in April, having been present at Philip’s passing. He can be seen standing behind The Earl of Snowdon in the photo below.
For his role as valet to The Queen’s husband, David Berwick, who joined Prince Philip’s staff in 1975 and continued in service for 46 years, received a Member of the Royal Victorian Order (MVO). Berwick is one of the two men at the back of the procession.
The Royal Victorian Order was founded by Her Majesty’s great-great grandmother in 1896, and is in The Queen’s gift. It recognises distinguished personal service to the Monarch of the Commonwealth realms, members of the Monarch’s family, or to any viceroy or senior representative of the Monarch.
The RVO has five classes from member as the entry level award, to Knight or Dame Grand Cross, its highest.
William Henderson has become a Lieutenant of the Royal Victorian Order (LVO) for serving as a page to Prince Philip. Henderson is one of the two men in the second row from the back of the procession, one of them hidden.
All three men were invited by the Royal Family to partake in the funeral procession and walk behind the coffin with them. Following behind The Prince of Wales, The Duke of Cambridge, The Princess Royal and other family members, the men processed through the grounds of Windsor Castle behind a Land Rover hearse, specially designed by the Duke of Edinburgh himself, to carry his coffin. It would be their last act of duty for a man to whom they were truly devoted.
Additionally, awards were also given out to others who served Prince Philip over the years.
For his role of organising the overall charge of military arrangements for the funeral, Brigadier Major Lieutenant Colonel Guy Stone of the Welsh Guards was made an LVO.
Considering the funeral as being the pinnacle of his career, Lt. Col. Stone shared: “I’ve never been involved in anything where everyone was working so hard, regardless of their role, to make it so right and that made me exceptionally proud to be part of the Armed Forces.”
Prince Philip himself was closely connected with the Armed Forces. He served as Captain General of the Royal Marines for 64 years and was also Colonel of the Grenadier Guards from 1975 – 2018, in addition to his active service in the Royal Navy during the Second World War.
The two bearer parties for the Duke’s coffin were distinguished as well. 12 members from the Royal Marines and 12 from the Grenadier Guards were honoured for their services during the funeral.
Prince Philip was known to have an extremely loyal team of staff surrounding him and their devotion to The Queen’s husband was exemplified by the sheer number of years they continued to work for him.
The Duke’s correspondence secretary, Suzy Lethbridge, his assistant private secretary Rachel Loryman and his archivist and librarian Alexandra McCreery were all made Lieutenants of the Royal Victorian Order (LVO).
It has been 19 years since The Queen last awarded Demise Honours. In 2002, Her Majesty recognised those who served her mother, Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother and her sister, Princess Margaret. Awards were given in a combined list to their private secretaries, ladies in waiting and the bearer parties for each of their separate funerals.
Just a couple of weeks ago, Elizabeth II was presented with a rose named after her husband, to mark what would have been his 100th birthday.