What We Know About Prince Philip’s Funeral: Burial Plans, COVID Restrictions

Prince Philip, who died Friday at age 99, will be laid to rest with all the honors due a prince of the United Kingdom and a consort to Queen Elizabeth II. But the coronavirus pandemic has required changes to the well-prepared plans for Philip’s passing. 

Flags on government buildings and royal residences were lowered to half-mast and will remain there until 8 a.m. BST (3 a.m ET) on the day after his funeral.

His death will be 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.

Britain’s political parties on Friday paused campaigning for next month’s local and Scottish elections, as Prime Minister Boris Johnson led political tributes. Lawmakers will return a day early from their Easter break so they can pay tribute to Philip in the House of Commons on Monday.

Given his age, the detailed plans for what should happen after Philip’s death — codenamed “Operation Forth Bridge” — have been in place for years.

Here’s what we know:

Will There Be a State Funeral for Prince Philip?

Philip’s body will not lie in state, a function both of the pandemic and his own “no fuss” attitude. Nor will it be a state funeral, in keeping with his wishes.

The College of Arms, the body that oversees ceremonial protocol, said Friday that the duke’s body will lie at rest in Windsor Castle, 25 miles (40 kilometers) west of London, where he spent his final weeks with the queen.

“This is in line with custom and with His Royal Highness’s wishes,” the college said.

When the Queen Mother Elizabeth — the last royal consort to pass on — died in 2002, her coffin lay in state at Parliament’s Westminster Hall, and thousands of people filed past to pay their last respects.

When and Where Will His Funeral Be?

His funeral will be held in St. George’s Chapel at the castle, the site of centuries of royal burials — and royal weddings, including the 2018 union of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.

Buckingham Palace will announce later when the funeral will be held and how many people will attend. Funerals are currently restricted to 30 people or fewer under England’s coronavirus rules, so it’s likely to be immediate family only.

Prince Philip’s Life in Photos

How Will the Coronavirus Pandemic Affect His Funeral Services and Tributes?

With Britain still in lockdown, 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. “Details will be confirmed in due course.”

But the palace and the British government urged people not to gather or lay flowers outside the royal residences to honor him. The palace instead invited well-wishers to sign a book of condolences — but only online, to avoid crowds and queues.

Britain, which has Europe’s highest toll in the pandemic at over 127,000 dead, is still under some lockdown restrictions to combat the spread of COVID-19.

The palace instead invited well-wishers to sign a book of condolences — but only online, to avoid crowds and queues.

Who Will Be Invited to Attend Prince Philip’s Funeral?

As previously noted, funerals in the U.K. are capped at 30 or fewer attendees. That means, the list of invitees is likely going to be limited to immediate family and possibly heads of state from Commonwealth countries.

It’s thought that Harry will try to travel from his home in Montecito, California, to say goodbye to his grandfather but he could have to navigate Britain’s coronavirus rules.

Travelers from the U.S. must produce a negative COVID-19 test before they get on the plane and must self-isolate for 10 days upon arrival, but that quarantine can end early if a test after five days comes back negative. His wife Meghan is quite pregnant with their second child and is not expected to make the trip.


New England Cable News

New England Cable News is a regional 24-hour cable news television network owned and operated by NBCUniversal serving the New England region of the United States. It focuses on regional news, though in some low priority timeslots, paid programming and programming from WNBC such as Talk Stoop and Open House are seen.

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