London, Apr 3: The Queen paid her respects to Sir Edmund Hillary at a service of thanksgiving hosted at St George's Chapel in the grounds of Windsor Castle.
The Princess Royal and the Countess of Wessex accompanied her. The service was also attended by Sir Edmund's widow and son, Helen Clark, the Prime Minister of New Zealand, and surviving members of the 1953 expedition. Also present was the son of Tenzing Norgay, the Sherpa with whom Sir Edmund climbed Mount Everest in May 1953. The news of their success reached London on the day of Her Majesty's Coronation.
Sir Edmund's son Peter said that the wonderful coincidence of the two events lifted a nation ravaged by war.
In a moving address he told the congregation of 500 how grateful his father was for his "friendship" with the royal family.
"His association with the royal family was something that gave him great pleasure and honour. He was very grateful for that friendship," The Telegraph quoted Peter, as saying.
Helen Clark, the Prime Minister of New Zealand, said of the Queen and Sir Edmund: "They shared a history."
Sir Edmund, who died in January, aged 88, was made a Knight of the Garter in 1995.
Meanwhile, Prince Philip pulled out of the memorial service for Sir Edmund because he was unwell.
"The Duke didn't want to infect everybody with his cold, which is quite bad," a royal aide said.
The Duchess of Wessex and the Duke of Gloucester also stayed off the service because of cold.