‘Thousands’ of well-wishers are expected to descend on the Royal palaces this afternoon to pay their respects as the Duke of Edinburgh‘s funeral takes place at St George’s Chapel in Windsor, one officer told MailOnline.
Drains and rivers have been scoured for security threats in Windsor as pleas to the public to stay away from Windsor appear to have so far been respected.
In London, all roads around Buckingham Palace have been closed off, dozens of police – some of them armed – are on duty, private security guards stand outside, officers patrol surrounding parks and a police helicopter hovers above.
Meanwhile, security, police and the media currently vastly outnumber the public in the Long Walk and in the streets around the castle as trains from Waterloo and Paddington are rolling empty into Windsor.
‘Thousands’ of well-wishers are expected to descend on the Royal palaces this afternoon to pay their respects despite the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral taking place at St George’s Chapel in Windsor, one officer told MailOnline. Pictured, armed officers gather outside Windsor Castle
As with all royal events, there was a tight security operation and police divers were pictured searching a drain near the grounds
Bored security guards in Windsor have been pictured standing in groups of 16 as they chat in the sunshine with instructions to ask any gathering groups to keep moving due to Covid restrictions.
A police sergeant told MailOnline: ‘It certainly looks like the royal family and Prince Phillip have been given the upmost respect.
‘Its 9am and I haven’t talked to one person who has come here to be at the castle today. I think people realise they’re better off at home watching the funeral on television.’
The service, which is expected to begin at 3pm after an eight-minute procession carried out by military regiments from the Royal Air Force, Army and Navy, will be attended by members of the Prince’s close family.
On the Long Walk, where some of the pageantry will march before entering the castle gates, steel barriers have been placed to fence any spectators in.
Police officers outside Windsor Castle were instructed to tell mourners to move on ahead of expected crowds for the funeral of the Duke of Edinburgh at St George’s Chapel
Bored security guards in Windsor have been pictured standing in groups of 16 as they chat in the sunshine with instructions to ask any gathering groups to keep moving due to Covid restrictions
Police officers on a rooftop keeping watch over the surrounding area as part of the ring of steel security operation
Alicia Evans, 48, from Windsor who was walking her dog there, was one of the few in the area.
She said: ‘If people are staying away then all I can say is good heavens for that. It’s a private funeral with only 30 Royal mourners. This is not one of those occasions where we want to see union flags and bunting.
‘It’s a very sad day and I hope most of the public remember Philip at home in their thoughts and watch the funeral on television.’
Despite the absence of spectators, security was on high-alert, with police snipers placed on roof tops and armed officers patrolling the streets.
Postboxes were sealed, rubbish bins were checked and experts went down into drains to check for threats as part of the intense security ring.
One officer earlier told MailOnline they were expecting ‘thousands’ of people to arrive at other Royal palaces.
He added: ‘The funeral may be in Windsor but we’re expecting a lot of people to turn up at Buckingham Palace, as they have been through the week.
‘The sun is out and people have been very moved by Philip’s death. There’s lots of media here and we have to make sure things run smoothly because the eyes of the world are on us.’
Thames Valley Police has put a range of visible and covert security measures in place, including automated number plate checks, CCTV and barriers to prevent attacks using vehicles, as well as armed and mounted officers on patrol.
Some members of the public did visit Windsor this morning, despite being urged by Buckingham Palace to stay away
Despite the absence of spectators, security was on high-alert, with police snipers placed on roof tops and armed officers patrolling the streets. Postboxes were sealed and rubbish bins were checked as part of the security ring
Experts say GCHQ could even be listening in to ‘chatter’ around the world online and on phones, looking out for any spikes in conversations about the funeral.
The Government’s Rule Of Six puts police officers in a difficult position as they try to control the crowds and Royal fans have been told not to attend any part of the events that make up the funeral due to Covid restrictions.
They have also been asked not to lay flowers because it could encourage crowds and lead to a super-spread of the coronavirus.
Buckingham Palace instead invited well-wishers to sign a book of condolences – but only online, to avoid crowds and queues.
Despite this, local florists opened early this morning as they braced themselves for a hectic day.
Florist Bridge Banks Harvey, 36, who was one of the first well wishers to arrive at Buckingham Palace this morning, said: ‘I’m opening up my shop early because I’m expecting a lot of customers. I came to the Palace to pay my respects before things get busy.’
Police officers troop through the town of Windsor and take up positions on the estate this morning ahead of Philip’s funeral
In Windsor police patrols will also be stepped up to enforce Covid rules, which bans large gatherings
She revealed she last week sold out of flowers as thousands of mourners left floral tributes to Prince Philip.
Ms Banks Harvey, who works at Pulbridge and Gould Florist in Victoria said: ‘People have been very moved by Philip’s death and want to remember him.’
Officers will be patrolling Buckingham Palace and Westminster for the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral.
Police have asked the public not to gather by royal residences, to avoid meeting in large groups, to minimise travel and to make a donation to charity instead of laying floral tributes.
Sam Welsh, 68 who laid a bunch of yellow roses said: ‘Philip was alright, he did a good job and made me laugh. I just wanted to honour his memory and pay respect to his life.
‘He was a good bloke and I’m sure we’ll all miss him but not as much as the Queen Mother, who I really loved.
‘With Philip gone it’s going to be tough for the Queen. I hope she copes OK because she’s got a difficult job.’
A member of staff at Windsor’s train station told MailOnline the usual crowds have not turned out for the funeral today.
They added: ‘Whenever there is a Royal occasion here, you get people sleeping overnight and certainly by 9am every train is packed. Today there hasn’t been a single person who has passed through here to stand outside the castle.’
Those who did travel to Windsor Castle to lay tributes today were asked to remove any wrapping from flowers and warned they would be removed at the end of the day.
The first floral tribute, at Buckingham Palace was laid by Claudia, 10 who was accompanied by her mother Chesma, 40.
Chesma revealed that she and her daughter set off from their East London home shortly after 6am and had laid yellow tulips.
She said: ‘We only moved to the UK from India 10 years ago but in that time we’ve come to love the Royal family. They represent this nation and we wanted to pay our respects to Prince Philip.’
Claudia said: ‘I really wanted to come here because I feel sorry for the Queen. She’s going to miss Prince Philip a lot as we all will.’
The mother and daughter revealed that they had decided to arrive early so that they could avoid any crowds and return home to watch the funeral on TV.
A man carrying flowers walks next to Windsor Castle, where at 3pm Prince Philip will be laid to rest
In Windsor police patrols will also be stepped up to enforce Covid rules, which bans large gatherings
Wardens stand outside Windsor Castle on the day of the funeral of Britain’s Prince Philip
An armed police officer stands guard at the entrance to Windsor Castle
Thames Valley Police said it has put a range of visible and covert security measures in place for Saturday
Armed Police Officers pictured on patrol outside Windsor Castle today
Chris Davies, 39 left his home in St Neots, Cambridgeshire with his son Christopher, 12 at 7am to pay his respects.
Chris, who was in the Royal Navy for 12 years, said: ‘I wanted to pay my respects to a fellow naval man. I love the Royal family and had a lot of respect for Prince Philip. We came down on the train early so that we can get home to watch the funeral on TV.’
Christopher said: ‘My dad’s told me a lot of stories about the navy and has brought me up to respect the Royal family. I wanted to come to pay my respects.’
Chris revealed that he was one of the Queen’s guards for her Jubilee celebrations in 2000.
He added: ‘I’ll always remember Prince Philip for his gaffes and sense of humour. He was quite a character, had a tendency to put his foot in it and will be missed.’
Eight-year-old Jack Slater was one of the few to lay flowers this morning at Windsor Castle.
Accompanied by his parents Emma and Stuart, he said he got up early this morning from his home in nearby Slough to lay down the flowers.
He said: ’I wanted to pay respects to Philip. Because he’s died. ‘
Mrs Slater said: ’We wanted to come here early, put some flowers down, and leave because of all the covid problems. We also wanted to respect what the Royal Family asked for, that people stay away. We will watch it at home on television.’
This is the funeral procession for tomorrow’s funeral, where William and Harry will not stand next to eachother with the Queen following behind in her car
Publican Robert Gillespie, 62, who runs the Two Brewers Pub next to the castle, has decorated his establishment in red white and blue flowers to mark the Prince’s death.
He said: ‘I used to see him when he would drive his horse and carriage down here from the Royal Mees towards the Long Walk and he would always give me a wave.
‘I’ll be closing the pub tomorrow or the day of his funeral also to pay respects to him.’
Only a small number of guests will attend the service later today, with even the Prime Minister stepping aside to make way for an additional family member under the tight rules on numbers.
Funerals of senior royals are years in the planning, with each operation named after a different bridge. The Queen is thought to be London Bridge and the duke is Forth Bridge.
The security operation will focus on preventing risks and ’embarrassment’, particularly controlling unauthorised access to the castle.
Last night the Palace shared a touching unseen picture of the Queen with her husband, who died peacefully at the castle on Friday last week at 99
The overwhelming majority of people will watch the funeral from their homes, with the BBC, ITV and Sky all broadcasting live
Flowers and condolences from around the Windsor Estate have been moved inside the Castle precinct
Those who did travel to Windsor Castle to lay tributes today were asked to remove any wrapping from flowers and warned they would be removed at the end of the day
Children leave a floral tribute to Prince Philip, Duke Of Edinburgh, ahead of his funeral
But police and security services will be alert to any incidents that could prevent a threat – from accidents, public disorder and crime to terrorist attacks.
The potential for knife attacks, shootings and the ability to plant bombs will all be considered.
But officers may be particularly ‘alive’ to threats drones could pose in disrupting or attacking the ceremony and can draw on technology to try to scupper their flight path or even call in the military.
Richard Aitch, director of operations for firm Mobius International, which offers security services for governments and private companies, said there could be a focus on covert tactics to avoid overshadowing the sombre mood of the day.
He believes that even in a pandemic, the security operation for an event like this would be ‘huge’, with the cost running ‘into the millions’.
What are the key timings for Prince Philip’s funeral?
The ceremonial arrangements for Prince Philip’s funeral today will reflect military affiliations and personal elements of his life. The congregation will wear masks for the service and members of the royal family will be wearing morning coat with medals or day dress. Philip has been lying at rest in the private chapel in Windsor Castle. Here is a timeline of events:
- 11am: The coffin, which will be covered with Philip’s personal standard along with his sword, naval cap and a wreath of flowers, will be moved from the private chapel to the Inner Hall of Windsor Castle by members of The Queen’s Company, 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards.
- 2pm: The Lord Chamberlain, the Constable and Governor of Windsor Castle and the Dean of Windsor will be present in the Inner Hall.
- 2.10pm: The Dean will say prayers before leaving by car to St George’s Chapel.
- 2.15pm: Representatives from the services are in place in the Quadrangle to show Philip’s special military relationships. The Quadrangle will also be lined by the Household Cavalry and The Foot Guards.
- 2.17pm. The band of the Grenadier Guards will be in Engine Court.
- Between 2.20pm and 2.27pm. Members of the royal family and Philip’s relatives who are not taking part in the procession will leave Windsor Castle by car to make the journey to the chapel.
- 2.27pm. The Land Rover, upon which the coffin will be placed, enters the Quadrangle via George IV Gate where bands at the site begin to play music. The service chiefs, the Major General commanding the Household Division and his staff leave from the Equerries Entrance and take their position by the State Entrance. They will face the Land Rover. The pall bearers take up position either side of the Land Rover and together they move towards the State Entrance.
- 2.53pm: The Land Rover arrives at the foot of the West Steps of the chapel. A Royal Navy piping party will sound once the Land Rover stops and the pall bearers take their positions. The coffin will be carried up the steps and halt on the second landing as members of the royal family take their positions on the steps.
- 3pm: The National Minute’s Silence, signalled by a gun fired by The King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery, takes place. After the minute’s silence, the Dean of Windsor and the Archbishop of Canterbury receive the coffin which has been followed by the members of the royal family who have walked in the procession. As the doors to St George’s Chapel close to the sound of Carry On being played, the Land Rover, service chiefs, realm defence advisers, bodyguards, military knights of Windsor, along with representatives of services, will leave in silence during the funeral service. After the National Minute’s Silence, the coffin is placed on the Catafalque in the Quire and members of the royal family who have walked in the procession will take their places for the service which is set to last 50 minutes and will be conducted by the Dean of Windsor. The Dean will give the commendation as the coffin is lowered into the Royal Vault. A lament will then be played by a Pipe Major of the Royal Regiment of Scotland. The piper will walk from the North Quire Aisle to The Dean’s Cloister. The Last Post will be sounded by buglers of the Royal Marines from the west end of the Nave. After a period of silence, the Reveille will be sounded by the State Trumpeters of the Household Cavalry from the west end of the Nave. The buglers of the Royal Marines will sound Action Stations and this is at the specific request of The Duke of Edinburgh. The Archbishop of Canterbury will pronounce the Blessing, after which the national anthem will be sung by the four singers present.
- After the service: The Queen and members of the royal family and Philip’s relatives will leave the chapel via the Galilee Porch.