Brigadier-General Paul Doyle, former commander of 4 Wing Cold Lake, represented the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) at the funeral of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh on Saturday.
Doyle commanded 4 Wing and CFB Cold Lake from 2016 to 2019. He is currently the commander and defence adviser at the Canadian High Commission’s Defence Liaison Staff in London.
Prince Philip had left detailed instructions for the funeral. With the number of attendees limited by Covid restrictions, foreign heads of state did not attend. But it was Prince Philip’s wish that the Canadian Armed Forces be represented.
“The Duke of Edinburgh specifically asked for representatives from four countries to be there, with the links that he had with those countries over the years,” Doyle said. Those links include his roles as a Colonel-in-Chief or as a patron.
“There was myself, the defence advisers from Australia and from New Zealand, and the acting High Commissioner from Trinidad and Tobago,” Doyle said.
“It’s hard to explain exactly the honour and the pride of being there. To be able to represent the Forces to someone who had such affinity with us in uniform, and with Canada, was humbling.”
There were only 30 people, mostly family members, attending the funeral service at St. George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle. Doyle and a small number of other invitees participated in a military parade on the castle grounds prior to the chapel service.
“After the Band of the Grenadier Guards had passed by, after the band had gone through a horseshoe cloister at the base of the steps going into St. George’s Chapel and the Land Rover hearse came in, it was an incredibly silent,” Doyle said. “That really drove home to me how solemn and moving that moment was, wanting to pay respects to the Duke of Edinburgh.
“And to be included in that, to be inside right at that last part of this military ceremony, is very difficult to describe other than I was just so appreciative and so proud to be there as a member of the Canadian Armed Forces.”
Prince Philip’s naval career is well-known, but he had ties to army and air force entities as well. Doyle noted that Prince Philip flew four or five thousand hours as a pilot; his Royal Air Force wings insignia was displayed on the altar alongside other military symbols.
All of this underlines the profound connection between the Canadian military and the Crown, Doyle said.
Prince Philip’s insistence on the Canadian Armed Forces being represented at the funeral also demonstrates his affinity with the country, he said.
“It underlines how significant it was that the Duke of Edinburgh wanted to make sure there was someone to represent the Canadian Armed Forces at his funeral, because it was a point of pride for him. Our association with him was definitely one of mutual respect and admiration.
“The opportunity to be there was an incredible experience for me, and I was very proud to be there to represent,” he said.