Why The Queen will likely 'sit alone' at Prince Philip's funeral

Gillian Wolski
·Lifestyle & Entertainment Producer
·5-min read

The Queen will likely have to 'sit alone' at the funeral for her late husband, the Duke of Edinburgh, who died last week at the age of 99.

Royal sources told The Telegraph that the newly widowed monarch, 94, must remain separate from the rest of her family during Saturday's service at St George's Chapel due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Queen Elizabeth II wearing a black coat, hat and face mask during a ceremony in Westminster Abbey to mark the centenary of the burial of the Unknown Warrior on November 4, 2020
The Queen (pictured in November 2020) will likely have to sit alone at her husband's funeral due to COVID-19 restrictions. Photo: Getty Images.

Despite restrictions easing after Britain's third lockdown, members of different household 'bubbles' are required to stay two metres away from one another.

The Queen and Prince Philip spent the majority of the pandemic at Windsor Castle attended by a reduced household staff of about 20. Their children and grandchildren stayed elsewhere in their own bubbles, meaning Her Majesty will have to sit alone to farewell her husband of over seven decades.

That's unless a staff member from her Windsor bubble — nicknamed 'HMS Bubble' — also attends which appears to be the case.

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Brigadier Archie Miller-Bakewell, Philip’s private secretary is expected to be part of the COVID-imposed 30-person guest list permitted inside the chapel and so will be able to support the Queen through what will no doubt be a difficult time.

Other royals who will likely have to keep their distance are Peter Philips, Princess Anne's son, and US-based Prince Harry who is currently in quarantine after flying into London last weekend.

The Queen's eldest son, Prince Charles and his wife, the Duchess of Cornwall will sit together as they're in the same bubble, as are Prince William and Kate Middleton.

All mourners will have to wear face coverings and there will be no singing of hymns in line with coronavirus guidelines.

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

Funeral plans 'ruined'

It's not the only impact the ongoing coronavirus pandemic has had on Prince Philip's funeral.

The carefully laid plans for 'Operation Forth Bridge' — the codename for the duke's funeral, named after the famous bridge just north of Edinburgh — were reportedly "ruined" by COVID-19 restrictions.

Even though the prince wanted a "low key" affair, palace sources have confirmed a grand, 42km public funeral procession was always part of the arrangements.

Forth Bridge set out that Philip's coffin would have been taken from Windsor Castle to St James’s Palace in London. It would then be carried on a ceremonial gun carriage through the streets of London to allow the public to pay their respects. 

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

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

The procession would have seen the route lined with thousands of members of the armed services and charities the prince was involved in, as well as the public.

Social distancing requirements mean that Forth Bridge had to be scaled back considerably, with the 42km procession reduced to an eight-minute walk from Windsor Castle to St George's Chapel where the funeral service will be held.

Both the procession and the service are closed to the public and will be broadcast live on the BBC.

“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.

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.

Scaled-back event

To respect Philip's wishes for a 'no-fuss' event, he will be given a ceremonial rather than a state funeral which is typically given for monarchs.

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

Philip's 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.

The coffin, draped in Philip's personal flag, will exit the Quadrangle at Windsor Castle 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 is expected to 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.

Additional reporting by Kristine Tarbert.

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