London – The funeral of Queen Elizabeth II’s husband, Prince Philip, will take place next week, Buckingham Palace said on Saturday, announcing a stripped-back ceremony due to coronavirus restrictions, and a return for exiled royal Prince Harry but not his wife, Meghan.
The announcement came as the couple’s eldest son, heir to the throne Prince Charles, 72, paid a heartfelt tribute to his “dear Papa”, and said he and the royal family missed him “enormously”.
“My dear Papa was a very special person who I think above all else would have been amazed by the reaction and the touching things that have been said about him, and from that point of view we are, my family, deeply grateful for all that,” he added.
“It will sustain us in this particular loss and at this particularly sad time.”
The Duke of Edinburgh – the 94-year-old queen’s husband of 73 years — died peacefully on Friday just two months short of his 100th birthday, triggering eight days of national mourning.
Royal officials said his funeral, which will be televised, will take place at 1400 GMT on Saturday, April 17 in St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle, west of London.
It will be preceded by a national minute’s silence.
Government guidelines restrict mourners to just 30 people and close attention has been paid to the pared-down guest list for the funeral, particularly whether the duke’s grandson Harry would attend.
Palace officials confirmed he would but his American wife, Meghan, who is pregnant with their second child, had been advised against travelling from the United States on medical grounds.
The couple, who quit frontline royal duties last year, have launched a series of broadsides against the royals, including accusing them of racism, and of failing to treat Meghan’s mental health.
Gun salutes earlier echoed around the United Kingdom on Saturday as the armed forces paid solemn tribute to the duke.
The coordinated 41-round volleys to the former Royal Navy commander were fired at a rate of one per minute from 12:00 (1100 GMT) in London, Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast, as well as at naval bases, from warships at sea, and in the British territory Gibraltar.
Similar salutes — the most according to military protocol — were also held in Canberra and Wellington, as the Queen is head of state in Australia and New Zealand.
At the Tower of London, a crowd of more than 100 onlookers kept a respectful silence as they watched the Honourable Artillery Company fire shots on the banks of the River Thames.-IOL.