Prince Philip: What are the plans for his funeral?
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Prince Philip: What are the plans for his funeral?

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image captionThe funeral will take place at St George’s Chapel, Windsor

Funeral preparations are under way for Prince Philip, Queen Elizabeth II’s husband, who died on Friday aged 99.

The ceremonial royal funeral will be held at St George’s Chapel, in the grounds of Windsor Castle, at 15:00 BST on Saturday, 17 April. The event will be televised.

Here’s what we know about plans for the day:

Where will the funeral take place?

Prince Philip is reported to have requested a funeral of minimal fuss and will not lie in state – where members of the public would have been able to view his coffin.

Instead, he will lie at rest in the private chapel at Windsor Castle until the day of the funeral.

The duke’s coffin is draped in his personal flag, his standard. The flag represents elements of his life, from his Greek heritage to his British titles. A wreath of flowers has also been placed on the coffin.

When the duke got engaged to the then Princess Elizabeth in 1946, he renounced his Greek title and became a British citizen, taking his mother’s anglicised name, Mountbatten.

The Mountbatten family is therefore also represented on the standard, alongside the castle from the arms of the City of Edinburgh – he became Duke of Edinburgh when he married.

What will happen on the day?

The duke will have a ceremonial funeral, rather than a state funeral. There is a subtle difference – state funerals are usually reserved for monarchs, although wartime Prime Minister Winston Churchill was given a state funeral. The Queen Mother had a ceremonial funeral in 2002, as did Diana, Princess of Wales in 1997.

Coronavirus restrictions on crowds and numbers attending funerals mean the duke’s ceremonial funeral will be much lower key than if it had happened in other times – although the Palace says this very much “reflects the duke’s wishes” and it will still “celebrate and reflect” a life of service.

On the day of the funeral, the coffin will be moved from the private chapel to the State Entrance of Windsor Castle. It will be placed on a modified Land Rover, that the duke himself helped design, to be carried the short distance to St George’s Chapel.

At 14:40 BST, the coffin will be carried out onto the Quadrangle and placed onto the Land Rover.

At 14:45 BST, the procession begins. The Land Rover, will be flanked by pallbearers from the Royal Marines and other regiments and corps associated with the duke. Members of the Royal Family, including the Prince of Wales, will walk behind the coffin. The Queen will travel separately to the chapel for the service.

The procession, led by the band of the Grenadier Guards, will move from the Quadrangle to Chapel Hill and down to Horseshoe Cloister.

The route will be lined by personnel from the Royal Navy, Royal Marines, The Highlanders, 4th Battalion Royal Regiment of Scotland and the Royal Air Force.

Guns will be fired by The King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery from the East Lawn throughout, as a bell tolls in the Curfew Tower, at the west end of the castle.

At 14:53 BST, the Land Rover will arrive at West Steps of St George’s Chapel, and met by a guard of honour and band from the Rifles Regiment, who will play the national anthem.

Members of the Household Cavalry will line the West Steps and a Royal Navy “piping party” will pipe a nautical call known as “the Still” as the coffin is carried up the steps to the chapel.

The coffin, draped with the duke’s standard, with a wreath and the duke’s naval cap and sword on top, will be met by the Dean of Windsor, together with the Archbishop of Canterbury, for the service.

Only the members of the Royal Family and the duke’s private secretary will enter the chapel – the rest of the procession will remain outside.

15:00 BST: A minute’s silence will be held nationwide, in memory of the duke.

Inside the chapel, the funeral service will begin as the coffin is carried to the Quire, and placed on a platform called a catafalque.

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The duke’s insignia – medals and decorations awarded to him by the UK and Commonwealth countries – his Field Marshal’s baton, Royal Air Force Wings and insignia from Denmark and Greece will be displayed on cushions on the altar in St George’s Chapel.

After the service, the duke will be interred in the royal vault.

Who will attend the funeral?

Coronavirus restrictions in England mean only 30 people, socially distanced, are allowed to attend funerals. Attendees are expected to wear masks in line with government advice. The pallbearers and clergy are not included in the number of attendees.

Details of the invited guests or family members are yet to be announced. Prince Harry will attend but his wife Meghan, who is pregnant, will not make the trip from the US, on medical advice. The Duke of Sussex is living in the US with the Duchess of Sussex and has not returned to the UK since stepping down as a senior royal last year.

Under earlier arrangements for the days after the duke’s death, codenamed Forth Bridge, thousands of people would have been expected to gather in London and Windsor, with some even camping out to get a vantage point to watch the military procession.

Hundreds of members of the armed forces would also have lined the streets in honour of the duke, alongside thousands of police officers to keep control of the crowds.

But since the pandemic began, organisers have been working on contingency plans which would avoid attracting mass gatherings in the event that the duke died.

What happens next?

The country is now in a period of national mourning, that will end on the day of the funeral.

Union jacks and national flags will fly at half-mast on all government buildings. Union jacks on royal buildings, where the Queen is not in residence, will also fly at half-mast.

The Royal Standard, which represents the sovereign and continuation of the monarchy, never flies at half-mast and will be flown at full-mast where the Queen is present. The Royal Family will observe two weeks of mourning – but members will continue to attend engagements and wear black mourning bands where appropriate.

Gun salutes took place across the UK and in Gibraltar at midday on Saturday. Military guns fired 41 rounds at one round every minute for 40 minutes in Edinburgh, Cardiff, London, Hillsborough Castle in Northern Ireland and at Devonport and Portsmouth naval bases.

Royal Navy ships at sea, including HMS Diamond and HMS Montrose, also fired the salute, a tribute to the duke, who served as a naval officer during World War Two and held, among other titles, the office of Lord High Admiral.

image copyrightGetty Images

Out of respect, the main political parties in England, Scotland and Wales have suspended campaigning for next month’s elections. The House of Commons will sit on Monday for MPs to pay their tributes to the duke.

How can the public pay their respects?

Coronavirus restrictions on mass gatherings in England mean the long-held plans for the days leading up to the funeral, and the funeral itself, have been amended.

Members of the public have been asked not to try to attend any of the funeral events, in line with public health advice.

The Royal Family has also asked people not to leave flowers and tributes at royal residences.

On the Royal Family website, members of the public are asked to consider making a donation to a charity instead of leaving floral tributes in memory of the duke. An online book of condolence is also available for the public to post their personal tributes.

A plaque that was displayed outside Buckingham Palace, announcing the duke’s death, was later removed because of concerns it would attract crowds. However, people have left flowers, cards and tributes outside the palace and at Windsor Castle, despite requests not to do so.

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