Buckingham Palace has on Saturday announced that Prince 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 as it begins at 3pm.
The Queen and her family will follow the COVID-19 guidelines, wearing face masks and socially distancing as they gather to pay tribute.
A local tabloid, Daily Mail reports that 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 the Prime Minister’s recommendation of national mourning, which began on April 9 and runs until and including the day of the funeral.
Only 30 people – expected to be the Duke’s children, grandchildren and other close family – will attend as guests, but the Duchess of Sussex, Meghan has been advised by her physician not to travel to the UK for the funeral, a Palace spokesman said.
It is understood Meghan made every effort to be able to travel with Harry, who will be among the mourners, but has not received the medical clearance to board a plane.
Meanwhile, a statement from a Downing Street spokesman says: “As a result of the coronavirus regulations, only 30 people can attend the funeral of HRH The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.
The prime minister has throughout wanted to act in accordance with what is best for the royal household, and so to allow for as many family members as possible will not be attending the funeral on Saturday”.
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 including the long-held arrangements for military processions through London and Windsor.
Instead, the proceedings will take place entirely in the grounds of Windsor Castle, televised, but away from public view and with no access for royal fans.
The duke 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’.
Gun salutes have been fired across the UK, in Gibraltar and at sea in tribute to the duke.
The royal family has appealed to people who wish to pay their respects in person to stay at home instead.
The Palace spokesman said: ‘While there is sadness that the public will not be able to physically be part of events to commemorate the life of the duke, the royal family asks that anyone wishing to express their condolences do so in the safest way possible and not by visiting Windsor or any other royal palaces to pay their respects.
‘The family’s wish is very much that people continue to follow the guidelines to keep themselves and others safe.
‘His Royal Highness’s funeral will be broadcast to enable as many people as possible to be part of the occasion, to mourn with us and celebrate a truly extraordinary life.’