UK: Prince Philip to have solemn, yet restricted, funeral due to pandemic
The Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Philip, will have a funeral with bands and a military escort that will take place on Saturday afternoon within the grounds of Windsor Castle. Only 30 of his relatives will be allowed to attend the ceremony due to restrictions in the United Kingdom because of the coronavirus pandemic and there will be a minute’s silence across the country at 4 pm (UK time).
Philip, who died on Friday, April 10th, at the age of 99, had asked for a simple ceremony, to be held in St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle. In fact, British royals will wear civilian clothes with their military medals during the funeral.
The most important state funeral in the UK in recent years will be both the most restricted in length, number of attendees and social distancing measures.
Queen Elizabeth II has given the go-ahead for an official ceremony calculated in detail to reconcile the general public’s desire to pay tribute to her husband, Philip of Edinburgh, with a national pandemic situation, which remains very delicate.
The Duke, who served as a naval officer in the Second World War and had close links with the armed forces, wanted a strong military-style ceremony, including buglers.
The coffin will not be carried in a hearse but in a military green Land Rover designed according to Philip’s instructions, who provided it with an open rear section to carry the coffin and even designed the metal pins that should prevent it from moving. At 2:41 pm (UK time), the coffin bearing the remains of the Duke of Edinburgh will leave through the main gate of the castle. The various members of the royal family and the royal household service who form part of the funeral procession will take their respective positions. Eight members of the Grenadier Guards, four on each side of the Land Rover, will symbolically carry the remains. Nine dignitaries, in four rows, will stand behind: Prince Charles of Wales and his sister, Princess Royal, Anne of the United Kingdom; in the second position, Prince Andrew, Duke of York and Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex; then the Queen’s grandchildren, Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and his brother, Prince Henry, Duke of Sussex.
This will be one of the most symbolic images of the event, which has already caused controversy, because in the middle of the two brothers – grandchildren of the Duke and personally estranged for months – will be Peter Philips, Princess Anne’s son.
The Queen’s late husband, to whom she was married for 73 years, was a lifelong fan of Land Rovers, engineering and design.
Buckingham Palace also said that all British royals will wear civilian clothes with their military medals.
At 4 pm, a minute’s silence will be observed across the UK. This will be followed by the funeral Mass, which will be jointly officiated by the Dean of Windsor and the Archbishop of Canterbury. The mortal remains of Philip of Edinburgh will rest, until the future death of Queen Elizabeth II, in the crypt of the chapel.
Sixty-nine years after the last royal funeral – King George VI’s in 1952–, the death of Prince Philip in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic and the growing popularity of social media and online contact, has led to a scenario completely different.
In addition to severe restrictions to crowds, coupled with distancing measures to be observed even by the Queen, expressions of condolence on Twitter seem to have become the new norm.
Britain’s Royal Family has opened an online book for people to express their sympathies as an alternative.