Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh and husband of Queen Elizabeth II who died last week at age 99, will be laid to rest on Saturday after a funeral service at St. George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle. His send-off will be highly unusual — in part because coronavirus restrictions meant the ceremony had to be scaled back, but also because it comes just after a very public airing of a family rift.
Pandemic rules in Britain have meant that the funeral will be pared down, with adjustments that include a limit of 30 guests at the church service. The queen and select family members will all be wearing masks and seated six feet apart.
The subdued service will reflect not only the reality of life in a pandemic, but also Philip’s own wishes for the ceremony, Buckingham Palace said in a statement this week. The prince was deeply involved in the organization of the event, which was years in the planning.
Before the ceremony — which will be live-streamed from nytimes.com and in this briefing from about 2:30-4 p.m. London time — Philip’s coffin will be moved on Saturday afternoon from a private chapel in Windsor Castle to the castle’s Inner Hall, where prayers will be said.
The ceremony will be rich with symbolism and nods to Philip’s life of service to the royal family and to the nation. The Grenadier Guards, a centuries-old regiment of the British Army, which the Duke of Edinburgh served as a colonel for more than four decades, will place his coffin on a hearse that the prince helped design. The vehicle, a modified Land Rover Defender, will then lead a small procession toward St. George’s Chapel, also on the grounds of Windsor Castle.
The process of designing the hearse began 18 years ago, and tweaks were still being made up until 2019. The open-top rear section was custom-made to Philip’s specifications, and the original vehicle was repainted “dark bronze green,” typical of military use, at his request.
Philip served in the Royal Navy, seeing combat during World War II, and his naval cap and sword will be placed on his coffin before the funeral service. The coffin will be draped in his personal flag, which pays tribute to his Greek heritage and his British titles. A variety of other military groups will be represented during the procession, and a team of Royal Marines will carry the coffin into St. George’s Chapel.
Members of the royal family — including Philip’s four children, Charles, Anne, Andrew and Edward, and some of his grandchildren, including William and Harry — will walk behind the coffin as it is driven to the chapel. Those with honorary military titles are expected to wear suits displaying their medals rather than uniforms, reportedly in deference to Prince Harry, who was forced to give up his military titles when he stepped away from royal duties.
The queen will arrive at the chapel by car. Before the service begins, there will be a national minute of silence at 3 p.m. local time.
There was much speculation about how the family dynamic would play out, as the funeral will be the first time that Prince Harry has returned to Britain since stepping down as a senior royal. The service also comes just weeks after he and his wife, Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, gave a bombshell interview to Oprah Winfrey in which they laid bare their problems with the royal family.
The funeral service will last less than an hour, and Prince Charles is expected to deliver the eulogy. A choir of four will sing music chosen by Prince Philip. They will be located some distance from the seated guests, in line with public health guidelines, Buckingham Palace said.
His body will then be interred in the royal vault in St George’s Chapel. Flags in Britain that have flown at half-staff at royal residences since his death will remain that way until Sunday.
John Stillwell/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
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Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh who married the future queen in 1947, brought the monarchy into the 20th century.
Almost 24 years ago, the world watched as a pair of brothers, age 15 and 12, walked a mile through the grounds of Windsor Castle behind a horse-drawn carriage holding their mother’s coffin.
The image of the boys, Prince William and Prince Harry, heads bowed as they walked slowly alongside their father, uncle and grandfather, became seared into Britain’s national consciousness.
On Saturday afternoon, the eyes of the country and the world will again turn to the brothers at a different funeral — that of their grandfather, Prince Philip.
This time, much of the interest is centered on the relationship between the princes, weeks after Harry and his wife, Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, gave a searing interview to Oprah Winfrey and spoke of their differences with the royal family. Harry also described his brother and father, Prince Charles, as being “trapped” by their roles.
William and Harry will both walk behind their grandfather’s coffin during a procession to the funeral service, but Prince Philip’s eldest grandchild, Peter Phillips, will walk between the brothers, according to plans released by Buckingham Palace.
Speculation about whether their grandfather’s funeral will help heal the brothers’ apparently strained relationship has swirled since Philip’s death on April 9. Prince Harry returned to Britain this past week from his home in California, his first visit since stepping down as a senior royal last year. Meghan, who is pregnant, remained at home on doctor’s orders, Buckingham Palace said.
In the days leading up to the funeral, the British tabloids pored over the brothers’ relationship, with the Daily Mail asking, “If you were William, could you forgive Harry?” But in public statements, both men focused on the personal loss of their family’s patriarch.
In his statement, William said of his grandfather, “I feel lucky to have not just had his example to guide me, but his enduring presence well into my own adult life — both through good times and the hardest days.”
“I will miss my grandpa, but I know he would want us to get on with the job,” he added.
Harry, in a separate statement, said that Philip had been “authentically himself” and was a man who “could hold the attention of any room due to his charm.” He added that his grandfather would be remembered “as the longest-reigning consort to the monarch, a decorated serviceman, a prince and a duke.”
“But to me,” Harry added, “like many of you who have lost a loved one or grandparent over the pain of this past year, he was my grandpa: master of the barbecue, legend of banter, and cheeky right ’til the end.”
Alan Cowell, a longtime New York Times correspondent, reflects on the death of Prince Philip and his funeral.
Elizabeth and Philip were married the year I was born — 1947 — when Britain’s deference toward its royal family had not yet been exposed to the merciless shredding that was to come. Back then, my own family might almost have seen itself reflected, albeit remotely, in their lives.
Like Prince Philip, whose funeral is on Saturday, my father had served in World War II, on deployments that were so protracted that, my mother recalled, she went three years without seeing him. In London, Buckingham Palace was bombed. So, too, were the rowhouses in Barrow-in-Furness in northwestern England where my aunts, uncles and grandparents lived, close to the shipyards targeted by the German Air Force.
When Elizabeth was crowned Queen Elizabeth II in 1953, we clustered around a small black-and-white television at a neighbor’s home to follow what was billed as the country’s first coronation to be broadcast live. Certainly, it was a moment of pomp that seemed to fete Britain’s re-emergence from postwar deprivation.
But by the time Prince Philip died last week, Britons had long ceased to march quite so closely in step with the royals. The mirror had become distant, supplanted by the oft-voiced questions: When did the sovereign family and its subjects begin to go their separate ways? And what does that bode for the future of the monarchy?
Amid coronavirus restrictions, Britain has had to adjust how it grieves over the past year. And with current rules allowing for just 30 people at funerals, the royal family scaled back plans for the service for Prince Philip.
A select handful of his closest family members will be the only ones allowed in St. George’s Chapel. They will be required to wear masks, follow social-distancing guidelines and refrain from singing, Buckingham Palace has said.
So who will those 30 people be?
First, of course, there is Queen Elizabeth II. Like the rest of the family, she will wear a face covering and sit at least six feet from other attendees.
Several family members will take part in the procession behind Philip’s coffin before they enter the chapel. The custom-built hearse will be followed by his daughter, Anne, the Princess Royal; and by his son Charles, the Prince of Wales. Directly behind them will be their younger brothers, Prince Edward, the Earl of Wessex; and Prince Andrew, the Duke of York.
Then some of Philip’s grandchildren will follow: Prince Harry, the Duke of Sussex; Peter Philips, the son of Princess Anne; and Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge, in that order.
Behind them will be the final two in the procession: Vice Admiral Tim Lawrence, Princess Anne’s husband; and David Armstrong-Jones, the Earl of Snowdon and son of Princess Margaret, the queen’s deceased sister.
Other family members will gather inside the church. Charles’s wife, Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, will be seated with him, and Prince Edward will be joined by his wife, Sophie, the Countess of Wessex, and their two children, Lady Louise Windsor and James, Viscount Severn.
Prince William’s wife, Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge, will also join him in the church. Prince Harry’s wife, Meghan, who is pregnant with their second child, did not travel with him from their home in California.
Zara Tindall, Princess Anne’s daughter; and the Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie, the daughters of Prince Andrew — along with their spouses — are also scheduled to be present.
Princess Margaret’s daughter, Lady Sarah Chatto, and her husband, Daniel Chatto, will attend, as will three of the queen’s cousins who regularly carry out official royal duties: Prince Richard, the Duke of Gloucester; Prince Edward, the Duke of Kent; and Princess Alexandra.
Three of Prince Philip’s German relatives will also be in attendance: Bernhard, Hereditary Prince of Baden; Donatus, Prince and Landgrave of Hesse; and Philipp, Prince of Hohenlohe-Langenburg.
And there was room for one more distant family member, Penelope Knatchbull, Countess Mountbatten, who was a close friend and carriage-driving partner of Prince Philip. She is married to the grandson of Lord Louis Mountbatten, Philip’s uncle, who was much beloved by the royal family. Lord Mountbatten was killed by the Irish Republican Army in 1979.
With Covid-19 restrictions limiting the numbers of mourners at Prince Philip’s funeral, Prime Minister Boris Johnson is one of the most prominent figures to miss Saturday’s ceremony in Windsor Castle.
Under regular circumstances, Mr. Johnson would have been high on the list of several hundred people invited to pay their last respects at the ceremony, a significant moment in Britain’s national life.
But as soon as attention began to focus on the practicalities of holding the funeral under pandemic rules, Downing Street said that Mr. Johnson would not attend.
“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,” Downing Street said in a statement last weekend.
Given that his government designed the coronavirus restrictions, Mr. Johnson’s decision to make space for family members looks well judged, and at least allows him to say that he will watch the event like most Britons, on a screen.
British political leaders must tread a fine diplomatic line in dealings with their monarch, who is their head of state and leads a royal family that attracts worldwide interest.
Participating in royal ceremonies usually raises the prestige of politicians, but there are dangers in being considered eager to exploit the attention generated by royal occasions — particularly when a member of the royal family has died.
That is something that Mr. Johnson will recall from his previous career as a journalist.
In 2002, the Spectator and the Mail on Sunday accused Downing Street of intervening in arrangements for the funeral of the Queen Mother to try to secure a more prominent role for Tony Blair, who was prime minister at the time.
Downing Street denied the claims, saying it had sought only to clarify what role Mr. Blair would play rather than seeking to expand it. It even protested to a press watchdog but ultimately withdrew its complaint after much negative publicity in the aftermath of the Queen Mother’s funeral.
That was at least a partial victory for the Spectator, whose editor at the time was Mr. Johnson.
NAIROBI, Kenya — At a state lodge in Kenya’s central highlands, Prince Philip in February 1952 delivered to his wife of four years, then known as Princess Elizabeth, the news that would change their lives forever: Her father, King George VI, had died, and she was to be queen.
Philip, who died on April 9 at age 99, spent the next seven decades not only as the queen’s consort, but also in a central role in reshaping Britain’s monarchy for the modern era. Known as the Duke of Edinburgh, he was a patron or member of hundreds of organizations, devoted himself to educational and scientific projects, and attended public events to support the queen — participating in more than 22,000 solo engagements before his retirement in 2017.
But in parsing Philip’s legacy, his most visible role for much of the world outside Britain was in complementing the queen as she fulfilled her duties as head of the Commonwealth. The organization, largely composed of colonies once under the British Empire, has defined Queen Elizabeth II’s 70-year reign.
From the onset, Philip recognized the monarchy’s “centrality” in the Commonwealth, said Sean Lang, a senior lecturer in history at Anglia Ruskin University in Britain. And over the next few decades, he established initiatives like the Commonwealth Study Conferences to examine and find solutions for global challenges, in addition to founding the Duke of Edinburgh award program, which helped millions of young people build self-confidence and hone their outdoor skills.
The projects not only “transformed lives,” Mr. Lang said, but also “helped to associate the monarchy with shaping the future instead of living in the past.”
Yet the concept of the Commonwealth, aimed at projecting and preserving British influence, has come under increasing scrutiny in recent years, particularly in the wake of the recent interview Prince Harry and his wife, Meghan, gave to Oprah Winfrey. In it, they related that a member or members of the royal family had said they did not want the couple’s child, Archie, to be a prince or princess, and expressed concerns about how dark his skin would be.
The Black Lives Matter protests in the United States have also revived debates in Britain around racism and the legacy of empire, even as more Commonwealth nations mull abandoning the queen as their head of state, or declare themselves a republic.
As Philip is being lauded for supporting the queen in upholding the Commonwealth, that depiction represents a kind of romantic fixation that detracts from history, said Patrick Gathara, a political commentator and cartoonist in Kenya.
“It’s made to seem that we should be invested in this institution rather than in the history that it actually represents,” Mr. Gathara said, adding, “The Commonwealth is born of colonialism and imperialism.”
After his death, Prince Philip’s sometimes offensive and racist remarks have also been revisited. During his tours around Commonwealth nations, he reportedly remarked to a former president of Nigeria, who wore a traditional dress, “You look like you are ready for bed.” He once asked, “You are a woman, aren’t you?” after accepting a gift from a woman in Kenya.
While different people will remember the comments differently — from blunders to jokes to derogatory statements — Mr. Gathara said the remarks expressed something deeper about privilege and power structures that continue to shape the world.
“If we had much more cognizance of the racist nature of the world’s system that grew out of colonialism, then these sort of statements, we wouldn’t see them as curiosities,” Mr. Gathara said. “We would see them as what they are: a real reflection of how the world works.”
Shortly after Prince Philip died on April 9, the BBC cut away from its schedule to broadcast special coverage across its television channels and radio stations for the entire afternoon and night.
As popular shows were taken off the air — including an episode of “EastEnders,” a soap opera that has run since 1985, and the final episode of “MasterChef,” a cooking competition show — the BBC was flooded with expressions of displeasure. To be exact: It received 109,741 complaints, the BBC said on Thursday, making it the most complained-about moment in the BBC’s history.
As Britain’s public broadcaster, the BBC has a pre-eminent position in the British media, and its funding from the public via a license fee puts it in a difficult position. It is frequently attacked for being too liberal, and too conservative, while its access to public funding is controlled by the government, currently a Conservative administration.
The BBC tries to reflect the mood of the nation, but recently a fierce debate about the role of the royal family bubbled up after Oprah Winfrey’s interview with Prince Harry and Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex.
Too little coverage of tributes to Philip, and the BBC would have run the risk of not showing proper respect for his life. Still, the broadcaster received so many online complaints that it set up a streamlined process — a dedicated online form — for people to register their disappointment about the extent of its coverage.
The BBC said on Thursday that Philip’s death “was a significant event which generated a lot of interest both nationally and internationally.” It also said that the decision to alter the schedule had been made with careful consideration, which “reflect the role the BBC plays as the national broadcaster, during moments of national significance.”
Two commercial broadcasters took divergent approaches. ITV, like the BBC, reportedly also had a large drop in viewers on April 9 amid its many hours of Prince Philip coverage. Channel 4 had special programming but then aired a popular show, “Gogglebox,” which shows people watching television, at 9 p.m.
On Saturday, the BBC and ITV will both broadcast Philip’s funeral.
Yet no one ever truly captured the man’s essence onscreen, one of his biographers says.
The reason, said the biographer, Ingrid Seward, author of “Prince Philip Revealed,” is that no members of the public ever had the opportunity to study him closely. As a man accustomed to walking a few paces behind his wife, Queen Elizabeth II, he remained partly out of view.
Ms. Seward, who has interviewed many members of the royal family, including Prince Charles and Princess Diana, began talking to Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, in the late 1970s. And some of their early meetings were disasters. “He was rude to me,” she said.
But she eventually formed a clearer view of Philip’s complicated persona — his irascible character, his acerbic wit, his generosity of spirit.
The accuracy and relative merits of film and television portrayals of him evolved along with the public perception of the monarchy, from two television movies based on the courtship between Charles and Diana to Philip’s most recent depiction in “The Crown.”
In “The Crown,” which premiered in 2016, Matt Smith and Tobias Menzies played Philip, and Seward took issue with both portrayals.
“They make him seem grumpy and bored,” she said. “He was never bored. He led a really active, packed, busy life.”
She maintains that Smith in Seasons 1 and 2 didn’t carry himself the way Philip did. “Everyone knows that he walks with his hands behind his back, that he’s got a very military stance, even in his 99th year,” Seward said, adding that this posture made him seem taller than he actually was.
She said Smith’s Philip was too pouty and petulant, even if Philip did struggle to find a role for himself when Elizabeth first became queen.
“Philip does not sulk,” Seward said. “That is so not him.”
She said she found that in Seasons 3 and 4 Menzies offered a more nuanced portrayal of a man in midlife crisis, but that there was no such crisis.
“The moon landing, no, no, no,” Ms. Seward said, referring to the “Moondust” episode, in which Philip becomes obsessed with the Americans’ 1969 moon landing and wallows in feelings of failure because of his own, less-consequential position in life. (Jonathan Pryce will take over the role in Season 5.)
“Once Philip established himself, he was fine,” Ms. Seward said. “He accomplished so much, and he traveled all over the world on his own.”