Prince Philip’s custom-made Land Rover hearse that he designed himself unveiled

It started off as a joke with the Queen in the 80s, but now Prince Philip's custom-built Land Rover hearse has been unveiled for the first time just days before his funeral.

The specially-modified Defender will be used to transport the Duke of Edinburgh's coffin on Saturday following his death aged 99 last Friday.

Philip's project to custom-build the TD5 130 chassis cab has spanned 16 years and saw him request it repainted in military green with special "stops" to secure his coffin in place.

The Queen's husband of 73 years also designed the open-top rear and only made the final adjustments in 2019.

Philip, who has loved the vehicles for more than 70 years, joked with her majesty when planning his funeral more than 30 years ago, saying "when I'm gone just throw me in the back of a Land Rover".

Now two days before his final farewell at Windsor Castle, it has emerged he first began the long-lasting venture to create his own bespoke hearse in collaboration with Land Rover in 2003, the year he turned 82.

A polished, sturdy, utilitarian vehicle, with heavy-duty wheels and angular structure, it stands as a showcase for the duke's practical nature and his passion for functional design and engineering.

The Defender was made at Land Rover's factory in Solihull in 2003 and Philip oversaw the modifications throughout the intervening years.

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Philip, who served with distinction in the Second World War and held special associations with all the Armed Forces, requested that the original Belize Green bodywork be switched to Dark Bronze Green, a colour used for many military Land Rovers.

He also designed the open-top rear section where his coffin will rest, made to his exact specifications, including the rubber grips on silver metal pins known as the "stops" or "stoppers" which perform the crucial task of preventing the coffin from moving.

Details on the vehicle include matching green hubs, a black front grille, a single cab and no registration plates.

Eighteen years after the duke began the Land Rover project, the vehicle will finally be used for its intended function on Saturday.

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The vehicle will ferry Philip's coffin in a slow procession from the state entrance of Windsor Castle through the grounds to the west steps of St George's Chapel, followed by the Prince of Wales and other members of the royal family on foot.

Land Rover has maintained the vehicle since it was built and has prepared it for the funeral in collaboration with the Royal Household.

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Thierry Bollore, Jaguar Land Rover's chief executive hailed Philip's "impressive knowledge and deep interest in vehicle design, engineering and manufacturing".

He said: "We are deeply privileged to have enjoyed a very long and happy association with the Duke of Edinburgh over many decades.

"We are also honoured that the Land Rover which the duke designed will be used at the funeral on Saturday.

"The duke was a tremendous champion for design, engineering and technology."

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