LONDON — Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson will not attend Saturday’s funeral for Prince Philip to allow as many members of the royal family as possible to be present amid coronavirus restrictions, his office said in a statement Saturday.
“Only 30 people can attend the funeral of HRH The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh,” the statement said. “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.”
Although England is set to come out of its latest Covid-19 lockdown on Monday, there are still substantial restrictions on mass gatherings, including limitations to how many people can attend funerals and weddings.
Attendees will also have to respect social distancing guidelines and keep 6 feet apart from people outside their household, the rules state.
Prince Philip’s funeral will be a much more subdued affair than was originally planned due to, in large part, the pandemic restrictions, but also his own wishes.
Buckingham Palace said Saturday that the ceremonial funeral will take place in St. George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle where he died at 99 on Friday, without any public access.
The procession will take place entirely within the grounds of the 11th century palace and will be broadcast live from the small town around 30 miles west of the capital.
It will not be a state funeral, reserved for ruling monarchs, and his body will not lie in state.
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The palace said Philip’s naval cap and sword will be placed on top of his coffin before it is transported from the castle to the chapel in a purpose-built Land Rover that he helped to design. Prince Charles and other senior royals will follow on foot.
Ahead of the ceremony, a national minute’s silence will be observed.
On Saturday, Prince Charles, the heir to the British throne, thanked the public for their condolences following his father’s death, saying his “dear papa” will be missed “enormously.”
Since Philip’s death, flowers and messages of support have been piling up outside Windsor Castle and Buckingham Palace, but the royal family has asked people to make donations to charities instead over pandemic concerns. Gun salutes rang out in Philip’s honor across the nation on Saturday.
Members of the royal family also visited the grieving Queen Elizabeth II at Windsor Castle.
“The queen has been amazing,” said a tearful Sophie, the Countess of Wessex, as she left with her husband Prince Edward, the youngest son of the monarch.
Prince Harry, one of Prince Philip’s eight grandchildren, is expected to travel from the U.S., where he now lives with his wife Meghan Markle, for the funeral, a Buckingham Palace spokesperson said Saturday. However, Markle, who is pregnant with their second child, has not received medical clearance to travel from her physician, according to the palace.
All eyes will be on Harry and his interactions with his family after the couple’s bombshell interview with Oprah Winfrey last month, exposing a raft of allegations about the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s lives before and after their split with the royal family.
The palace said Prince Harry will be following Covid-19 protocols for travel to and from the U.K.
Under current regulations, travellers arriving from the U.S. have to quarantine for 10 days, but they have an option of taking a Covid-19 test after five full days of isolation and end their quarantine early if the test is negative.