Prince Philip: What will his funeral look like and will Harry and Meghan return?

Duke of Edinburgh died on Friday morning, Buckingham Palace announces

Clea Skopeliti
Friday 09 April 2021 15:22
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Prince Philip obituary: The Duke of Edinburgh dies aged 99

The coronavirus pandemic is expected to significantly affect plans for Prince Philip’s funeral, after the Queen’s husband died at the age of 99 on Friday.

In pre-pandemic times, the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral would have included a military procession through London, with thousands flocking to watch the event.

Since the pandemic began, organisers have been detailing a contingency strategy in case the duke died during the crisis.

The sendoff for the Queen’s consort will inevitably look rather different in order to stay in line with Covid-19 regulations. 

The duke would have approved of the “pared-back” funeral plans, royal commentator Joe Little has said, adding that the royal “didn’t want all the pomp and pageantry”.

When will the funeral take place?

Prince Philip’s funeral is expected to take place at Windsor Castle’s St George’s Chapel eight days after his death.

This would likely set the date for the ceremony as Saturday 17 April.

Buckingham Palace aides will confirm the finalised plans for the events to commemorate the duke in the coming days.

Prince Philip is expected to be buried in the Royal Vault in St George’s Chapel on the day of the funeral in a private service, attended only by the Queen and senior members of the royal family.

What will the funeral look like?

Due to the coronavirus crisis, organisers are understood to be “desperately anxious” not to attract large crowds of people.

The event, which will be televised, will be a ceremonial royal funeral rather than a state funeral, in line with royal protocol.

The funeral was due to have a strong military presence in recognition of his naval career and his links with the armed forces. However, in line with England’s coronavirus restrictions, processions are not expected to be held in London or Windsor.

The funeral will be held at Windsor Castle, and any military involvement will take place within the castle’s grounds rather than in public.

The Metropolitan Police will be tasked with preventing mass gatherings as well as security detail.

The duke’s coffin will not lie in state, in line with his own wishes. 

Who will attend?

England’s current coronavirus restrictions place a limit of 30 attendees on funerals, who must follow social distancing rules if they do not live together or share a support bubble.

Normally, world leaders, foreign leaders and military chiefs would be among those to attending the prince’s final farewell, but this will not be possible given the coronavirus situation.

Following the Sussexes’ decision to step down from royal duties, there has been some speculation about whether the couple, who now live in California, will come to the funeral. 

The Daily Mail cites an unnamed source close to the family as saying that Prince Harry will “absolutely do his utmost” to return to the UK and be with the family.

The source told the newspaper that the Duke of Sussex “will want nothing more than to be there for his family and particularly his grandmother, during this awful time”.

They added that Meghan Markle, who is pregnant, will likely have to take advice from her doctor about whether she is able to travel from California.

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