In May 2017, Britain’s The Guardian newspaper made headlines when it revealed the plan for how the government will handle Queen Elizabeth II’s death. But there is also a plan in place for the death of Prince Philip, her husband of 74 years.
Buckingham Palace announced he died Friday morning at Windsor Castle. Britain’s oldest and longest-serving royal spouse in 10 centuries was 99.
Prince Philip’s funeral will take place April 17 at St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle in a family service that will be closed to the public, Buckingham Palace said in a release Saturday. Prince Philip will be laid to rest with all the honors due a prince of the United Kingdom and a consort to Queen Elizabeth II.
“The Duke of Edinburgh’s coffin, covered with His Royal Highness’s Personal Standard and dressed with a wreath of flowers, is resting in the Private Chapel at Windsor Castle, where it will remain until the day of the Funeral,” Buckingham Palace’s statement read.
Palace officials said that the ceremony would be conducted strictly in line with government COVID-19 guidelines, which restrict the number of people attending funerals. They declined to say whether the royal family would be required to wear masks.
The coronavirus pandemic means it will be a more low-key farewell than has marked many royal deaths. The pandemic has required changes to the well-prepared plans for Philip’s passing, code-named Operation Forth Bridge.
“During the coronavirus pandemic, and in light of current government advice and social distancing guidelines, modified Funeral and ceremonial arrangements for His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh are being considered by Her Majesty The Queen,” Buckingham Palace said in a statement Friday.
His death was marked with 41-gun salutes at noon on Saturday at locations across the country, including the Tower of London and Edinburgh Castle, as well as in Gibraltar and on Royal Navy ships at sea.
When Philip retired from public life at age 96 in August 2017, media outlets began tracking down the details for his funeral and burial. Here’s an idea of what to expect, as well as answers to common questions.
Will Prince Philip get a state funeral?
No. Technically, as the consort to the sovereign, Philip is entitled to a ceremonial funeral, the same type used to honor the Queen Mother and Princess Diana. However, he reportedly doesn’t want that kind of “fuss” made over him.
That means he’s passing on the usual service at Westminster Abbey or St. Paul’s Cathedral and won’t lie in state at Westminster Palace.
In 2013, the Sunday Times reported that Philip had informed officials there that they do not need to go through the stress of arranging such a ceremony, often on only a few hours notice. They last hosted a royal lying-in-state in 2002, when the Queen Mother died, drawing some 200,000 mourners.
How do state and ceremonial funerals differ?
While Prince Philip won’t have either, there are some differences between state and ceremonial funerals.
Both usually involve lying in state and a service at Westminster Abbey or St. Paul’s Cathedral, but the latter is usually reserved for the sovereign and distinguished figures such as Winston Churchill. However, ceremonial funerals don’t require parliamentary approval and funding.
Remember how Princess Diana’s coffin was transported through the streets of London by a horse-drawn gun carriage? That is the other distinguishing characteristic of a ceremonial funeral, according to Parliament documents. When the queen dies, hers will be drawn by sailors from the Royal Navy, a tradition dating back to the funeral of Queen Victoria in 1901.
Where will his body be kept before the funeral?
Buckingham Palace officials confirmed in a release Saturday that The Duke of Edinburgh’s coffin is resting at the Private Chapel in Windsor Castle where it will stay until the day of the funeral.
On April 17, “The Duke of Edinburgh’s coffin will be moved by a Bearer Party found by The Queen’s Company, 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards,” the release said. “Positioned in the Quadrangle at Windsor Castle will be representative detachments drawn from His Royal Highness’s military special relationships.”
Where will his funeral be?
The funeral will take place April 17 at Windsor Castle, according to the palace.
The College of Arms, the body that oversees ceremonial protocol, said Friday that the duke’s body will lie at rest in Windsor Castle, where Philip spent his final weeks with the queen. His funeral will be held in St. George’s Chapel at the castle, the site of centuries of royal burials, and the same 800-capacity castle on the grounds of Windsor Castle that hosted the May 2018 wedding of his grandson, Prince Harry, and the former Meghan Markle, now Duke and Duchess of Sussex.
“The service will be preceded by a Ceremonial Procession inside the grounds of Windsor Castle,” the palace’s statement read.
Under current COVID-19 restrictions, up to 30 people are permitted at funerals and 15 may attend wakes as of April 12, the BBC reports, though the government says that number may shift based on venue capacity and does not include workers. The new Phase 2 reopening guidelines raises the limit on wake attendees from six.
Funerals may happen indoors or outdoors and crematoriums and cemeteries remain open.
Members of the public are asked to avoid gathering in crowds and consider making a donation to charity in lieu of floral tributes, according to a statement from Buckingham Palace. There will also be an online Book of Condolence for those who wish to leave messages for the late Duke of Edinburgh available on the Royal website.
Who will be invited?
“The Funeral Service will be attended by Her Majesty The Queen and Members of the Royal Family,” Buckingham Palace said in a release.
The list of invitees is likely to be on the small side due to COVID-19, which has already impacted the royal family personally; Prince Charles and Prince William both tested positive for the virus last year.
Will Prince Harry and Meghan Markle attend?
Harry and Meghan, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, stepped back from their roles as senior working royals last year and relocated to California.
Prince Harry, who is the queen’s grandson, will attend the service along with other members of the royal family, though Meghan, who is pregnant, has been advised by her doctor not to attend, the Associated Press reports.
According to its Border Control website, the United Kingdom currently requires anyone entering the country to quarantine at their destination lodging or in designated quarantine hotel for 10 days. However, they can leave their quarantine location for compassionate grounds in order to attend funerals. They must quarantine at all other times.
Where will he be buried?
Prince Philip will be interred at the royal vault in St. George’s chapel, according to the palace.
The queen is also expected to be laid to rest at Windsor in the royal vault in St. George’s Chapel. Another possibility could be she will be buried alongside her parents and sister, Princess Margaret, in the King George VI Memorial Chapel, a small annex named for her father within the larger St. George’s Chapel.
Philip’s mother, Princess Alice of Greece, was initially buried in St. George’s Chapel in 1969, but her body was moved to a church on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem in 1988, as per her wishes.
But the Duke of Windsor was buried at Frogmore, after his body was returned to Britain in 1972 from Paris where he had been living in exile following his abdication in 1936. His American wife, Wallis Simpson, Duchess of Windsor, was buried next to him in 1986.
Frogmore Gardens is also the final resting place of Britain’s last reigning queen, Victoria, who chose to be buried alongside husband Prince Albert, who died in 1861, rather than in Westminster Abbey or in the royal vault at St. George’s Chapel.
Will there be an official period of national mourning?
Yes, in fact, this appears to be the one part of the royal funeral protocol that will be observed. Traditionally, it lasts from the day of the death until the day of the funeral. It’s not immediately clear how COVID-19 may impact the length of the mourning period. In the case of the Queen Mother, it lasted for eight days. Until the funeral, traditionally affairs of state and any new law awaiting the queen’s royal assent are put on hold and books of condolences are usually made available at embassies around the world for the public to sign.
Will flags be lowered in his honor?
Yes, flags on government buildings and royal residences were lowered to half-mast, with one notable exception. The Royal Standard flies only when the queen is in residence and is never lowered because it signifies the continuity of the monarchy. It won’t even be lowered when she dies because her heir, Prince Charles, will have ascended to the throne.
Flags on government buildings and royal residences were lowered to half-mast Friday and British television networks canceled scheduled programs to allow for special coverage after Philip’s death.
After Diana died, the queen was criticized for not lowering the flag at Buckingham Palace. Typically, the only flag flown there is the Royal Standard, which was not on display because she was vacationing at Balmoral. Eventually, she agreed to fly the Union Jack at half-staff there.
When will Queen Elizabeth return to duty?
Although she will reopen her famous red boxes of government paperwork after that initial eight-day mourning period, she is not expected to fully resume public life until after a 30-day mourning period.
Contributing: Rasha Ali and Maria Puente, USA TODAY; The Associated Press