LONDON — Buckingham Palace announced Saturday that Prince Philip's funeral will take place at St. George's Chapel at Windsor Castle on April 17 — but in keeping with government lockdown measures, the ceremony will be "much reduced in scale with no public access."
Philip was the longest-serving consort in British history and husband to Queen Elizabeth II for 73 years, and the royal family said he expressed his wishes for a low-key affair. He died Friday at age 99, just two months shy of the century mark. There will be eight days of national mourning.
Prince Harry will travel from Southern California to attend the funeral, but his wife Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, will not — based on medical advice, a spokeswoman for the couple said. Meghan is pregnant with their second child, due in the summer. She suffered a miscarriage last year, which she wrote about in the New York Times.
The funeral list is so tight that Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he would not attend to open a spot for a member of the royal family. Philip and Elizabeth have four children, eight grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren, plus their spouses.
On Saturday, Prince Charles released a videotaped statement from his Highgrove estate in Gloucestershire. He emerged from the home, dressed in a blue suit and black tie, looking downcast and calling Prince Philip “my dear papa.”
Charles began, speaking without notes: “I particularly want to say. . . . My father, I suppose the last 70 years, has given the most remarkable, devoted service to the queen, to my family, and to the country, and also to the whole of the commonwealth. And, as you can imagine, my family and I miss my father enormously.”
“He was,” Charles added, “a much loved and appreciated figure.”
He ended: “Thank you. Thank you.” Then he turned and went back inside his home, as viewers could hear bird calls from the estate gardens.
The funeral will take place entirely within the walls of Windsor Castle. The palace announced: “His Royal Highness’s coffin will be carried in a purpose-built Land Rover — which The Duke was involved in the design of — flanked by military Pall Bearers, in a small Ceremonial Procession from the State Entrance to St George’s Chapel, for the Funeral Service.”
The eight pallbearers and the dean of Windsor and the archbishop of Canterbury, who will officiate, will not be counted in the limit of 30, the BBC reported.
Since the death announcement at noon Friday, the queen has been visited at Windsor by Charles and her other three children, Anne, Andrew and Edward.
Around the country on Saturday, signs of mourning were everywhere: royal staff in black, a 41-round gun salute. The Union Jack was at half-staff, and will remain so until a day after the funeral.
Many of these tributes are based on long-standing royal protocol. Others reflect pandemic-related restrictions.
To announce Philip’s death on Friday, a plaque, per royal tradition, was placed in front of Buckingham Palace, reading: “It is with deep sorrow that Her Majesty The Queen announces the death of her beloved husband, His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.”
It was, however, removed later in the day, amid fears that it was attracting crowds in violation of limits on public gatherings.
“With the safety and well-being of the public in mind, and in accordance with government guidelines, members of the public are asked not to gather in crowds,” the palace said in a statement Friday. “Those wishing to express their condolences are asked to do so in the safest way possible, and not to gather at Royal Residences.”
Britons, nonetheless, continued to gather to leave floral tributes in front of palaces and mark the moment in pictures and collective mourning.
At noon in Britain, a nationwide 41-gun salute was held to honor the former naval officer and World War II veteran.
The Church of England, which Elizabeth officially heads, published prayer resources for churches to use during the mourning period.
Others incorporated socially distanced moments of silence into their Saturday plans, such as at sporting events, which the prince avidly supported.
The life and complicated legacy of Prince Philip dominated British media coverage on Saturday. Over many decades, Prince Philip ran the gamut in the British press: at times scolded, mocked and lauded for everything from cringeworthy comments to his dutiful service to the crown.
But some were frustrated by the attention over the late Duke of Edinburgh in a year in which the coronavirus has officially killed nearly 3 million people worldwide and more than 125,000 in Britain.
There was also concern that coverage of Philip’s death on Friday was overshadowing other pressing developments in Britain, such as ongoing unrest in Northern Ireland over Brexit trade rules, as well as glossing over the less flattering parts of his life and the British monarchy’s impact.
Initial ratings by Britain’s Broadcast Audience Research Board found that the BBC and ITV, two British networks that on Friday pulled other coverage to prioritize the royal news, had major drops in viewers this week compared with last, according to the Independent. The BBC set up a web form specifically for Philip coverage-related complaints.
“Although the corporation [BBC] is used to finding itself in the middle of Britain’s culture wars, its handling of Philip’s death points to a deeper question over the ability of a national broadcaster to force the country together to mourn a single individual in an era where audiences are fragmented and less deferential,” reported the Guardian.
British media also conveyed the condolences pouring in from leaders around the world, including Pope Francis and all five living former U.S. presidents.
Berger reported from Jerusalem.