Queen honours Wigan soldier who drove hearse at Prince Philip's funeral

A Wigan-born soldier who drove the hearse at the Duke of Edinburgh's funeral has been honoured by the Queen.

Thursday, 10th June 2021, 10:30 pm

In a special set of Demise awards issued in the wake of the duke’s death and poignantly announced on what would have been his 100th birthday, the Queen recognised the service of those closest to Prince Philip and members of the military involved in his funeral.

Among them was Corporal Louis Murray, from Atherton, who drove the hearse - a specially-adapted Land Rover Defender - from Windsor Castle to St George’s Chapel.

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Corporal Louis Murray

Both men, who serve in the Corps of Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, have been awarded the Royal Victorian Medal (Silver) for their vital roles.

Corporal Murray, 29, described being involved in the funeral in April as "a great privilege and a once-in-lifetime thing to do".

He told the Army's website at the time: “My grandad, who passed away, was very, very fond of Prince Philip, he thought he was a great man and there are not many people who can say they drove the vehicle that carried His Royal Highness’s coffin.

"It is an honour to do so.”

Other honours were given to the duke’s long-serving private secretary Brigadier Archie Miller-Bakewell, who was made a Commander of the Royal Victorian Order (CVO). He was the duke’s right hand man for 11 years, taking on the role in 2010.

William Henderson, who was the duke’s page, has become a Lieutenant of the Royal Victorian Order (LVO).

Philip’s valet David Berwick, who worked for the Queen’s consort for 46 years, joining his staff in 1975, has been made a Member of the Royal Victorian Order (MVO).

All three devoted years of service to the duke and royal family, and were invited to process behind his coffin as it was ferried through the grounds on the Land Rover hearse.

Brigade Major Lieutenant Colonel Guy Stone of the Welsh Guards, who was in overall charge of the military arrangements, has been made an LVO for his service.

Garrison Sergeant Major Andrew “Vern” Stokes of the Coldstream Guards was responsible for setting the discipline standards and seeing to the practical side of the military’s involvement.

It was his job to make sure the distances between troops were kept exactly to the plan and that the execution of the displays was immaculate. He has been made an MVO.

Twelve members of the Royal Marines and 12 Grenadier Guards who formed the two bearer parties for the coffin have also been named as award recipients.

Most have received the Royal Victorian Medal (Silver), with some being made MVOs including Warrant Officer Class 1 Robert Henderson and Captain Mark Thrift of the Royal Marines, and Lieutenant Alec Heywood and Warrant Officer Class 2 Vandell McLean of the Grenadier Guards.

The Queen’s Company, 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards bearer party was responsible for carefully moving the coffin from Windsor’s private chapel to the inner hall and then on to the hearse.

Following the procession, the Royal Marines bearer party lifted the coffin from the vehicle and carried it up the steps and into and through St George’s Chapel.

Others honoured included the duke’s correspondence secretary Suzy Lethbridge, his assistant private secretary Rachel Loryman and his archivist and librarian Alexandra McCreery, who were all made LVOs.

The Royal Victorian Order and Royal Victorian Medal are in the Queen’s gift and are given to people who have served the Queen or the monarchy in a personal way.

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