Prince Philip's Funeral April 17 04/10 12:21
LONDON (AP) -- Prince Philip's royal ceremonial funeral will take place
April 17 at Windsor Castle -- a slimmed-down service amid the COVID-19 pandemic
that will be entirely closed to the public.
Philip, also known as the Duke of Edinburgh, took part in planning his
funeral and its focus on family was in accordance with his wishes. The
99-year-old duke, who died Friday, also took part in designing the modified
Land Rover that will carry his coffin.
"Although the ceremonial arrangements are reduced, the occasion will still
celebrate and recognize the duke's life and his more than 70 years of service
to the Queen, the UK and the Commonwealth," a palace spokesman said Saturday
while speaking on condition of anonymity in line with policy.
Prince Harry, Philip's grandson who stepped away from royal duties last year
and now lives in California, will attend the service along with other members
of the royal family. His wife, the duchess of Sussex, who is pregnant, has been
advised by her doctor not to attend.
Palace officials said the ceremony would be conducted strictly in line with
the British government's COVID-19 guidelines, which restrict the number of
people attending funerals to 30. They declined to say whether the royal family
would be required to wear masks.
The palace appealed to the public not to gather in Windsor, and for those
who wished to pay their respects to Philips to stay at home instead.
"While there is sadness that the public will not be able to physically be
part of events to commemorate the life of the duke, the royal family asks that
anyone wishing to express their condolences do so in the safest way possible
and not by visiting Windsor or any other royal palaces to pay their respects,''
the palace spokesman said. "The family's wish is very much that people continue
to follow the guidelines to keep themselves and others safe.''
The announcement comes after military teams across the U.K. and on ships at
sea fired 41-gun salutes Saturday to mark the death of Philip, honoring the
former naval officer and husband of Queen Elizabeth II whom they considered one
of their own.
Batteries in London, Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast -- the capitals of the
four nations that make up the United Kingdom -- as well as other cities around
the U.K. and the Mediterranean outpost of Gibraltar fired the volleys at
one-minute intervals beginning at midday. Ships including the HMS Montrose, a
frigate patrolling the Persian Gulf, offered their own salutes.
"The Duke of Edinburgh served among us during the Second World War, and he
remained devoted to the Royal Navy and the Armed Forces as a whole," Gen. Nick
Carter, chief of the defense staff, said in a statement. "A life well-lived.
His Royal Highness leaves us with a legacy of indomitable spirit, steadfastness
and an unshakeable sense of duty."
Members of the Commonwealth, a group of 54 countries headed by the monarch,
were also invited to honor Philip. The Australian Defense Force began its
salute at 5 p.m. local time outside Parliament House in Canberra, and New
Zealand planned to offer its own tribute on Sunday.
Philip joined the Royal Navy as a cadet in 1939 and once had a promising
military career. In 1941, he was honored for his service during the battle of
Cape Matapan off the coast of Greece, when his control of searchlights aboard
the HMS Valiant allowed the battleship to pinpoint enemy vessels in the dark.
Philip rose to the rank of commander before he retired from active duty.
Two years after the war ended, Philip married Elizabeth at Westminster Abbey
when she was 21 and he was 26. Philip's naval career came to an abrupt end when
King George VI died in 1952 and his wife became queen.
At the queen's coronation in 1953, Philip swore to be his wife's "liege man
of life and limb" and settled into a life supporting the monarch. The couple
had four children -- Charles, the heir to the throne, Anne, Andrew and Edward.
Before he retired from official duties in 2017, the prince carried out more
than 22,000 solo public engagements and supported over 780 organizations,
including the Duke of Edinburgh's Award for young people.
Members of the public continued to honor Philip's life of service on
Saturday, leaving flowers outside Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle despite
appeals from authorities and the royal family to refrain from gathering.
"I think everyone would like to pay their respects," Maureen Field, 67, said
outside Windsor Castle. "Because of the virus, a lot of people have to stay
away. He didn't want a big funeral. He wanted a very private time with his
family to say their goodbyes. So, we've all got to respect that."
Mike Williams, 50, traveled from his home in Surrey, southwest of London, to
Buckingham Palace to honor the prince.
"He's a massive loss to the country and to the world, I think, so we wanted
to come and pay respects," Williams said. "I don't know what it achieves, but
it just felt like the right thing to do."