Prince Philip’s final farewell will be a royal funeral like no other, with the Queen and her family following guidelines and wearing face masks and socially distancing as they gather to pay tribute.
Buckingham Palace announced that Philip’s ceremonial royal funeral will take place on April 17 in St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle, and a national minute’s silence will be observed in Britain as it begins at 3pm.
The duke’s grandson Prince Harry will attend from California, returning to the UK for the first time since stepping down as a senior royal, but his wife Meghan will not.
Meghan Markle has been advised by her physician not to travel to the UK for the funeral, a Palace spokesman said.
It is understood that Meghan, who is pregnant with her second child, had made every effort to join her husband but was not given clearance to travel by her doctor.
It will also be the first time Harry has seen his family in person since his and Meghan’s tell-all interview with Oprah Winfrey, in which they accused the royal family of racism and the institution of failing to support Meghan.
The duke’s coffin will be transported from the castle to the chapel in a specially modified Land Rover he helped to design, and followed by the Prince of Wales and senior royals on foot, a senior Palace official said.
The Queen has approved Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s recommendation of a national week of mourning, which began on April 9 and runs until the day of the funeral.
Only 30 people – expected to be the Duke’s children, grandchildren and other close family – will attend as guests.
Originally 800 people would have been due to gather to pay their respects to the nation’s longest serving consort, but Philip is known to have wanted a low key affair.
All public elements of the funeral have been cancelled. It will be televised but take place entirely in the grounds of the castle, the Palace said.
The Queen has decided the royal family will enter two weeks of royal mourning, and engagements will continue appropriate to the circumstances, a senior royal official said.
Public elements of Operation Forth Bridge – the codename for the duke’s funeral plans – were abandoned for fear of drawing crowds through London and Windsor.
The plans for the funeral are in line with His Royal Highness’s own personal wishes.
The occasion will recognise and celebrate The Duke’s life and more than 70 years of service to The Queen, the UK and the Commonwealth. pic.twitter.com/cDEx5nGbcc
— The Royal Family (@RoyalFamily) April 10, 2021
Philip died peacefully in his sleep at Windsor Castle on Friday, two months before his 100th birthday, leaving the Queen and the royal family “mourning his loss”.
The Earl and the Countess of Wessex spent around an hour with the Queen at the castle on Saturday, with a tearful Sophie telling reporters as she left: “The Queen has been amazing.”
A Palace spokesman said the royal family hoped the coming days would be seen as a chance to celebrate the duke’s “remarkable life”.
“While this is naturally a time of sadness and mourning for the royal family and the many others who knew or admired the Duke of Edinburgh, it is hoped that the coming days will also be seen as an opportunity to celebrate a remarkable life – remarkable both in terms of his vast contribution and lasting legacy,” the spokesman said.
PM Johnson will not attend the funeral to make room for as many family members as possible under pandemic rules, which limit funerals to 30 guests.