It’s been a tumultuous year for the Royal Family and, given Prince Philip’s death on April 9, 2021, things are only getting harder. Philip died at the age of 99 years old after being hospitalized many times in the months before, per The New York Times. Buckingham Palace said that he died “peacefully,” but it will likely be a bit more hectic for the family to plan a funeral service for the patriarch of the royal family in the middle of a pandemic.
Given his role as consort to Queen Elizabeth and service in the Royal Navy, there are many different kinds of official and ceremonial services that could be held for him. And of course, there are his own personal wishes for how he wants to be memorialized to contend with, and knowing the kind of man Prince Philip was (one with opinions, at the very least), he most surely had some.
Per the BBC, Buckingham Palace was meant to make an official statement about Philip’s funeral plans the day after his death. By late in the afternoon of April 9, some details were leaked about what the public could expect. Given the fact that he was older, plans for his death, codenamed “Operation Forth Bridge,” have been in place for years, via NBC News. So what will the funeral look like?
Plans are already underway for Prince Philip's funeral
The death of Prince Philip initiated an eight-day mourning period in the United Kingdom, but because of the coronavirus pandemic, officials are asking the public to not gather. However, when it comes to the royal family, it seems that people threw caution to the wind, as there were reports of crowds gathering at Buckingham Palace to show their respects hours after the news broke, per the BBC. The palace also revealed that Philip will not lie in state or have a state funeral. Instead, his body will lie in rest at Windsor Castle, and there will be a ceremonial funeral in St. George’s Chapel. No date had been set at the time of this writing. Per the New York Post, he would be buried at Frogmore Gardens.
If you are old enough to remember, that means his funeral will be similar to those of the Queen Mother in 2002 and Princess Diana in 1997, even though she no longer had a royal title at the time of her death. Royal ceremonial funerals are also held for any heir to the throne or for members of the family that have a military rank. It’s not a slight that Philip won’t have a state funeral or lie in state; that’s something that is usually reserved for sovereigns, per the outlet. The College of Arms, the organization that puts together funerals, says that this is what Philip wanted. And indeed, he had previously stated that he wanted no fuss over his funeral.
Prince Philip did not want any pageantry
After a bout of illness in 2013, it was reported by the The Times that the Duke of Edinburgh did not want any pageantry when it came to his funeral. Usually, he would have lied in state for a full state funeral at Westminster Hall, but he reportedly did not want any “fuss” and believed that he wasn’t important enough for such fanfare. Don’t be fooled though by his humility — as the case with all things royal, his ceremonial funeral will still be quite the spectacle.
Still, it will definitely be less of a spectacle than it would have been if the pandemic wasn’t still in full swing. For one, there will not be television cameras allowed in the chapel, per the New York Post, so the actual services won’t be televised. In addition to that, because of coronavirus restrictions, funerals in the UK are limited to just 30 people, so the guest list will be smaller than it would be. You have to imagine that in normal times, even for a smaller, ceremonial funeral all of the grandkids and great-grandkids and extended family and friends would show up. Given international travel restrictions and crowd control, Queen Elizabeth will have to pare down the guest list.
Prince Harry will likely attend the funeral
Despite the restrictions, it is expected that Prince Harry will fly to the UK from California to attend his grandfather’s funeral. He would just have to quarantine for a couple of days before joining his family. People reported that it is unclear if Meghan Markle, who is currently pregnant, will attend. Given her condition and the 30 people max limit, it would be an easy out for her. Otherwise, her lack of attendance could look like a snub, especially after her tell-all interview with Oprah Winfrey.
Meghan and especially Prince Harry were close to Prince Philip. Harry and Philip were often seen together at events and, despite Philip’s sentiments towards Princess Diana, Philip really stepped in to help care for Harry and William after her death. In the Diana Chronicles by Tina Brown (via The Independent), it was reported that “A member of the Balmoral staff noted that Prince Philip, who had effectively lost his own mother at the age of ten when she was committed for three years to an asylum in Switzerland, was brilliantly effective with his grandsons, offering them gruff tenderness and outdoor activities like stalking and hiking to tire them out.”
No matter what Philip’s funeral looks like, his family will surely celebrate his life and legacy properly.
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