Queen Elizabeth will honour explorer Sir Edmund Hillary with a special memorial service.

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The queen – who was “deeply saddened” by Sir Edmund’s death last week – will hold the ceremony in St George’s Chapel at her Berkshire residence, Windsor Castle, for the intrepid New Zealand adventurer’s family in April.

Sir Edmund was made a Knight of the Garter, the most prestigious rank in the British honours system, in 1995.

Because of his title a banner displaying Sir Edmund’s coat of arms was hung in St George’s Chapel, but this will be taken down during the memorial in the traditional ‘laying up’ of the banner.

After the service, Sir Edmund’s family will attend an audience with the queen. The great explorer – who became the first man to conquer Mount Everest with Sherpa Tenzing Norgayin in 1953 – will receive the honour of a state funeral in his native New Zealand next Tuesday (22.01.08).

The queen will be represented at the funeral by the Governor-General of New Zealand Anand Satyan and is also expected to send a personal wreath. The queen sent a personal message to the family of Sir Edmund after he passed away last Friday (11.01.08) aged 88.

Sir Edmund’s ascent of Everest was announced on the eve of Elizabeth’s coronation in June 1953, and he was knighted in the same year.

The queen met the adventurer on a number of occasions, the last being the annual Garter ceremony at Windsor Castle in 2004, where Knights of the Garter meet to witness new knights being bestowed with the honour.