On April 17th the royal family will say an official goodbye to Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh who passed away at age 99 late last week. Arrangements for a funeral service and other events have been made with COVID-19 attendance restrictions in place that limit the number of guests and mourners permitted to be present. The entire day of mourning will take place on the grounds of Windsor Castle and out of view in an effort to discourage the public from gathering at the property in crowds.
But, a spokesperson for the royal family insisted, the scaled-down plans for the ceremony “are still very much in line with The Duke’s wishes.” The proceedings will be broadcast on television and radio.
"Ironically, it is probably how he would have liked," Ailsa Anderson, a former palace spokesperson told People. "No fuss, no bother. Right through his life, he never knew what all the fuss was about."
Much “fuss” however, has been made of the news that Prince Harry will return to the U.K. from his home in Los Angeles, leaving pregnant wife Megan Markle behind — on doctor’s orders. The Duke and Duchess of Sussex suffered a miscarriage last summer so the extra, no-flying-allowed precautions aren’t surprising.
What is surprising is that during the procession set to follow Philip’s coffin from the family’s private chapel at Windsor Castle to St George’s Chapel, brothers William and Harry will not walk side by side. The procession will see Princess Anne and Prince Charles head the group with Edward and Andrew following. Behind them, Prince Harry and Prince William will walk divided by Anne’s son Peter Phillips. Anne’s husband, Vice Admiral Sir Timothy Laurence, and the Earl of Snowdon will follow along, and at the rear will be some of the palace staff who were dear to Philip. A specially designed Land Rover will carry the Prince’s coffin.
“The ceremonial arrangements are a reflection of The Duke’s military affiliations and personal elements of His Royal Highness’s life,” said the spokesperson (via Harper’s Bazaar). That said, the royal men with military backgrounds (like Harry) will eschew their uniforms for suits.
Despite the fact that it’s been more than a year since William and Harry have seen each other they will not be seated together during the service, either. The arrangement was okayed by the Queen herself with no reason provided for the division between Sussex and Cambridge. The public, however, can place reasonably safe bets on the notion that it had something to do with the conversation Harry and Megan had with Oprah Winfrey last month.
Funeral guests will don face masks during the service inside the chapel while a paired-down choir of just four singers stand at a safe distance away. The afternoon ceremony, which will wrap up in under an hour, will be led by the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Dean of Windsor. The funeral will conclude with Philip’s coffin being lowered into the royal vault.
A national moment of silence in remembrance of Prince Philip will take place at the start of the funeral at 3 pm BST on Saturday.
[video_embed id='2180957']BEFORE YOU GO: Queen Elizabeth returns to royal duties after Philip’s death[/video_embed]