LONDON: Arrangements of Prince Philip’s funeral have been revised due to the Covid-19 pandemic, to exclude lying in state and other ceremonies with public participation, the College of Arms said on Friday.
“The funeral will not be a State Funeral and will not be preceded by a Lying-in-State. His Royal Highness’s body will lie at rest in Windsor Castle ahead of the funeral in St George’s Chapel,” the College of Arms said in a statement.
“This is in line with custom and with His Royal Highness’s wishes. The funeral arrangements have been revised in view of the prevailing circumstances arising from the Covid-19 pandemic and it is regretfully requested that members of the public do not attempt to attend or participate in any of the events that make up the funeral.”
Final recommendations regarding the format and timeframe of the funeral will be given by the United Kingdom government, following consultations of Lord Chamberlain Andrew Parker, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Queen Elizabeth II. After that, the date of the funeral will be announced by Buckingham Palace.
Rules of pandemic
In line with restrictions, imposed in the country back on January 4, the number of participants in a funeral ceremony must not exceed 30.
According to Press Association, Her Majesty will have to compile the list of royal family members who will be allowed to attend the ceremony.
Due to the current pandemic, the funeral will not be attended by honorary guests, whose participation would otherwise be obligatory: members of other royal dynasties, envoys of other Commonwealth nations, high-ranking state and military officials.
Prince Philip, who died at the age of 99 on Friday, took part in planning his own future funerals and joked sarcastically that many of those who helped him passed away long before him.
As the royal consort, Prince Philip is entitled to a State Funeral but wished the ceremony to be more private and less troublesome. Even a relatively modest ceremony would have envisaged mass gatherings and enhanced security measures in central London, but no public mourning will be held in the British capital due to the pandemic.
The prince will be laid to rest in the Royal Mausoleum at Frogmore, alongside Queen Victoria (1819-1901), her spouse Prince Albert (1819-1861) and Elizabeth II’s uncle, Edward VIII (1894-1972), who abdicated in 1936.
The nationwide mourning period will last eight days. All members of the parliament will be required to wear black armbands, and male MPs will have to wear black ties as well.
All official flags will be flown at half-mast until 8:00 on the day following the funeral (10:00 Moscow time).
One flag that will not fly at half-mast is the Royal Standard, which signals the presence of the monarch at a royal residence. It represents the monarchy and is never flown at half-mast even upon the Demise of the Crown, as there is always a sovereign on the throne.
“All official flags, including the Union Flag, will be flown at half-mast from now until 8:00 on the day following the funeral,” the College of Arms said.
Flags are to be lowered in other nations of the Commonwealth, including Australia, Canada, and New Zealand.
The royal court and Her Majesty’s family are expected to observe a 30-day mourning period, after which Elizabeth II will return to her royal duties. However, the final decision on how long the mourning would last is up to the queen.
Earlier in the day, the Westminster Abbey tolled their bell 99 times for Prince Philip. The church rang its bell once a minute starting at 18:00 local time (20:00 Moscow time).
Buckingham Palace informed earlier in the day that on Friday morning, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, passed away at Windsor Castle.
He married Queen Elizabeth II at the age of 26 and their marriage lasted 73 years. The couple has four children, eight grandchildren, and 10 great-grandchildren.