Prince Philip's funeral plans ‘ruined’ by Covid-19 pandemic

Kristine Tarbert
·Features and Health Editor
·3-min read

The carefully laid funeral plans for Prince Philip have been "ruined" as a result of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, it has been revealed.

Even though the Duke of Edinburgh, who died last week at the age of 99, wanted a "low key" affair, palace sources have confirmed a 42km public funeral procession was always part of 'Operation Forth Bridge'.

'Operation Forth Bridge' involves all the carefully planned arrangements for what would happen after the Duke’s death.

Named after the famous bridge just north of Edinburgh, Forth Bridge set out that Philip's coffin would have been taken from Windsor Castle, to St James’s Palace in London.

The plan was then for it to be carried on a ceremonial gun carriage through the streets of London to allow the public to pay their respects. 

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Then the following day, a 42km funeral cortege would have seen the coffin placed within a specially adapted Land Rover, to take back to Windsor Castle.

Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, visits the Field of Remembrance in London, England.
The Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Philip, died last week at age 99. Photo: AP

The procession would have seen thousands of members of the armed services and charities the Prince was involved in line the routes as well as the public.

But even though England has just started easing restrictions after a third lockdown, and is steadily rolling out vaccinations, the pandemic restricts gatherings for funerals to 30 people.

“COVID-19 has ruined the arrangements and members of the public are encouraged not to gather in crowds, and to commemorate privately,” a royal source told The Sun.

The casket containing the body of Diana, Princess of Wales, is escorted by Welsh Guardsmen and soldiers of the Royal Horse Artillery, as it is borne on a gun carriage past Buckingham Palace, during the funeral procession in Londay, Saturday Aug. 6, 1997. (AP Photo/Adrian Dennis)
The casket containing the body of Diana, Princess of Wales, is escorted by Welsh Guardsmen and soldiers of the Royal Horse Artillery in 1997. Photo: AP

To respect Philip's wishes, he will be given a ceremonial rather than a state funeral which is typically given for monarchs.

His coffin will be followed by his son, Prince Charles and his grandsons, Princes Harry and William as it processes from Windsor Castle to nearby St George's Chapel for the afternoon service.

At Philip's personal request, there will also be six non-royals accompanying Charles, Harry and Will on the day.

Royal Family follows the Queen Mother's coffin in 2002
The British Royal Family follows the Queen Mother's coffin in 2002. Photo: Getty Images.

The coffin, draped in Philip's personal flag, will exit the Quadrangle and move west down Chapel Hill to the Horseshoe Cloister at the far end of St George's Chapel. Members of the military will line the route.

After the service concludes, Prince Philip will be interred in the royal vault. The Queen will remain in mourning, carrying out duties behind closed doors, for about 22 days after his funeral.

How to watch Prince Philip's funeral in Australia

The late Duke of Edinburgh will be honoured with a ceremonial royal funeral at St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle at 3pm Saturday UK time, which will be 12am Sunday AEST in Australia.

Just 30 members of Prince Philip's family, as well as his private secretary, are permitted inside the chapel for the service.

Royal fans can, however, watch the funeral as it will be broadcast live on the BBC. For Aussie viewers Prince Philip's funeral will be live on Channel 9 and 9Now.

The 9NEWS Special, The Funeral of HRH The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, will begin at 11pm AEST Saturday and run through to 1am Sunday.

In WA, the coverage will begin at 9pm local time and in SA and NT it will begin at 10.30pm local time.

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