A golden glow fell over the grounds of Windsor Castle this morning as dawn broke on the day HRH Prince Philip will be laid to rest.
In pre-pandemic times thousands of mourners would have travelled to the Berkshire town to pay their respects, but the Royal Family, the Government and police are asking well-wishers to stay away.
Early this morning members of the armed forces, police, security and the media were taking up positions around the Castle ahead of this afternoon’s ceremony.
While much of the typical pageantry has been pared back, Buckingham Palace says it will still reflect Philip’s life of service and the plans he himself spent years fine-tuning.
Right down to the bespoke Land Rover hearse to carry his own coffin, the event will be executed with Philip’s characteristic military precision leading up to the 3pm service at St George’s Chapel.
The Queen, 94, will say a private farewell to her husband before his body is driven to the chapel tailed by a small procession including his four children and three grandsons.
Sources say she has been the ‘epitome of dignity’ this week, and the Archbishop of Canterbury paid tribute to her ‘extraordinary dignity and courage’.
Justin Welby, who will praise Philip’s ‘life of service to the nation and Commonwealth’ at the service, added that he hoped the nation prayed for her and ‘hope for her to find strength in what must be an anguished moment’.
As the Queen prepared to lead the nation in mourning:
- No planes will land or take off at nearby Heathrow for six minutes to coincide with the minute’s silence;
- Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby will praise Philip’s ‘life of service to the nation and Commonwealth’ at the service;
- The Order of Service, released by the Palace last night, reflects Philip’s naval roots, including the seafarers’ hymn Eternal Father, Strong To Save;
- The Earl and Countess of Wessex, with their daughter Lady Louise, appeared touched by tributes left in memory of the duke when they viewed cards and flowers at Windsor Castle.
A golden glow fell over the grounds of Windsor Castle this morning as dawn broke on the day HRH Prince Philip will be laid to rest
The eyes of the world will be on the royal residence today as the Queen says her final goodbye to the Duke of Edinburgh, her husband, strength and stay of 73 years
In pre-pandemic times thousands of mourners would have travelled to the Berkshire town to pay their respects, but the Royal Family, the Government and police are instructing well-wishers to stay away
The royal couple are photographed as they are rarely seen – relaxing together away from public duties and enjoying the stunning scenery of the Scottish Highlands
Pictured: Windsor Castle at dawn this morning The funeral of Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Philip’s and husband of Queen Elizabeth II is due to take place today at 3pm
Early this morning members of the armed forces, police, security and the media were taking up positions around the Castle ahead of this afternoon’s service
Right down to the bespoke Land Rover hearse to carry his own coffin, the event will be executed with the Duke’s characteristic military precision leading up to the 3pm service at St George’s Chape
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
From the Queen to Mike Tindall: Funeral guest list
Here is the full list of guests who will attend the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral at Windsor Castle on Saturday:
- The Queen
- The Prince of Wales
- The Duchess of Cornwall
- The Duke of Cambridge
- The Duchess of Cambridge
- The Duke of Sussex
- The Duke of York
- Princess Beatrice
- Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi
- Princess Eugenie
- Jack Brooksbank
- The Earl of Wessex
- The Countess of Wessex
- Lady Louise Windsor
- Viscount Severn
- The Princess Royal
- Vice Admiral Sir Timothy Laurence
- Peter Phillips
- Zara Phillips
- Mike Tindall
- Earl of Snowdon
- Lady Sarah Chatto
- Daniel Chatto
- Duke of Gloucester
- Duke of Kent
- Princess Alexandra
- Bernhard, Hereditary Prince of Baden
- Prince Donatus, Landgrave of Hesse
- Prince Philipp of Hohenlohe-Langenburg
- The Countess Mountbatten of Burma
It was a crisp Spring day at Windsor this morning, with sunshine forecast for most of the day.
Signs have been erected around the town urging members of the public to stay away from the grounds and other royal residences.
A massive security operation has been put in place around Buckingham Palace, and all surrounding roads have been closed off with dozens of police, some of them armed, on duty.
Private security guards have also been placed outside Buckingham Palace with police officers patrolling surrounding parks and a police helicopter hovering above.
One officer told MailOnline that they were expecting ‘thousands’ of people to arrive.
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.’
In Windsor police patrols will also be stepped up to enforce Covid rules, which bans large gatherings.
Marshalls have also been drafted to help and were seen today trooping through the town.
Reporters were struck by how quiet Windsor was, drawing contrast with past major events such as Harry and Meghan’s 2018 wedding when the streets were filled with royal fans.
But a visible armed forces presence will be on display, reflecting the Duke’s wishes for a military rather than a state funeral.
Philip served with distinction as a Naval officer in the Second World War and had association with all forces while the Queen’s consort.
The duke’s coffin, draped in his personal standard and bearing his naval cap, sword and a wreath of flowers, will first be seen at 2.41pm today when it emerges from the State Entrance to Windsor Castle carried by a bearer party from The Queen’s Company, 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards.
It will then be placed on the Land Rover hearse that Philip personally designed for the occasion for the eight-minute journey to the chapel, followed by a procession of nine family members.
Lieutenant Erica Bridge of the Kings Troop Royal Horse Artillery said Philip’s affection for the armed forces would weigh on the servicemen and women on duty.
She told BBC Radio 4’s Today progamme: ‘What is absolutely key to today is that the day is very much in line with the Duke of Edinburgh’s wishes.
‘And that’s a really important thing to those people out there today – knowing that the Duke wanted them to be there and representing those units he had a very close affiliation with.’
Admiral Tony Radakin, the First Sea Lord, added: ‘It is (a naval send-off at the Duke’s funeral) but I think it is much bigger than that.
‘I really do think that for all of us in the military, today is about a royal funeral and it is about playing our part in that, but it is for the Royal Air Force, the British Army and the Royal Navy, and to reflect our dignity and respect and the affection we all had for Prince Philip, and the very clear affection that he had for all of us.’
Royal biographer and Daily Mail columnist Robert Hardman said the funeral plan ‘very much reflects the man’.
Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today, Mr Hardman said: ‘It is reduced but I don’t think it is any way diminished – the core elements are there.’
He added that it would be a service that ‘very much reflects the man – very unstuffy, unfussy’.
‘You won’t hear a eulogy or any great address – it is very much what he wanted but all the way through it are those echo of his naval career which shaped him,’ Mr Hardman said.
Last night Buckingham Palace shared a touching unseen picture of the Queen with her husband, who died peacefully at the castle on Friday last week at 99.
It shows the couple at one of their ‘happy places’ – the Coyles of Muick hills close to Balmoral, where they enjoyed walking and picnics throughout their long lives together. The Queen so loves the place that she named her new corgi puppy after it.
The photograph – taken by their daughter-in-law the Countess of Wessex in 2003 during one of their family summer holidays – was specially chosen by Her Majesty to share ahead of today’s funeral.
The couple look blissfully happy and relaxed as they sit back in the heather, the Queen in her off duty Scottish dress of a woollen twinset, pearls and a tartan skirt, with Philip in country casuals and a sun hat resting on his knee.
The Queen was seen yesterday walking her puppies Muick and Fergus, a dorgi, in the gardens at Frogmore, where her grandson Prince Harry has been quarantining after flying in from the US, leading to speculation she may have greeted him from a distance.
She is said to have been ‘stoical’ about her husband’s death, and has been personally involved in the funeral preparations, including the order that senior royals wear morning dress instead of uniforms to stop tensions over what Andrew and Harry should wear.
She even found time yesterday to talk to governor general of Australia David Hurley and Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau, both of whom expressed their condolences.
Lord Chartres, a former bishop of London, today said the Queen would be under ‘extraordinary pressure’ during funeral.
The retired Church of England bishop, who was understood to be close to Philip, told BBC Radio 4’s Today: ‘I hope that today people really will be sending up a prayer for the Queen and for the other members of the royal family because having to grieve in public is an extraordinary pressure and something that most of us would not really want to do.
‘But it is part of their life and their world, and I hope today, and I’m sure, that people won’t forget the personal dimension in the formal ceremonies.’
Today’s funeral service will be for just 30 mourners – the maximum under Covid restrictions. Boris Johnson, who gave up his place, left a wreath for the duke outside St George’s Chapel yesterday saying the nation owes ‘more than words can say’.
A sign of a royal guard wearing a face mask in the town of Windsor where Prince Philip’s funeral will be held later today
Police officers are stationed at the grounds early this morning. Patrols have been stepped up and people urged to stay away
Marshalls have also been drafted in to help regulate the event, which is much more muted than usual royal ceremonies
All those at the socially distanced service will wear masks, including the Queen. The congregation will not be able to sing and the hymns performed by a small choir of four.
The Queen will follow her husband’s coffin on his Land Rover hearse down from the castle to the chapel in her State Bentley. The Dean of Windsor, the Right Reverend David Conner, who will lead the service, will say of the duke: ‘We have been inspired by his unwavering loyalty to our Queen, by his service to the nation and the Commonwealth, by his courage, fortitude and faith.’
The Archbishop of Canterbury, who will pronounce the Blessing today, said it was important for people to understand the Queen was facing the day with ‘extraordinary dignity and courage’, while saying goodbye to the most important person in her life.
He added that he hoped the nation prayed for her and ‘hope for her to find strength in what must be an anguished moment’.
Meanwhile, the Queen has been forced to ask her family not to military uniforms to save Harry’s blushes.
Prince Andrew asked to dress as an admiral, has stuck with royal protocol and kept Peter Phillips, her eldest grandchild, at the centre of the procession between the warring brothers.
He is being seen by royal experts as a ‘mediator’ on the day, having supported them when their mother Diana died in 1997.
Keeping Harry and William apart will be seen by some as a missed opportunity to show family unity in the wake of Prince Philip’s death.
Others questioned whether the princes were being kept apart deliberately at their own request, but the Royal Family has refused to discuss it.
A Buckingham Palace spokesman said: ‘This is a funeral [and] we will not be drawn into those perceptions of drama. The arrangements have been agreed and reflect Her Majesty’s wishes.’
Today royal biographer Hugo Vickers claimed that Peter Phillips, Philip’s eldest grandson, has been deliberately chosen to help his two younger cousins find a way forward with their relationship, which has become badly strained in the past year.
He said: ‘Peter Philips was incredibly good with the boys when Diana died, so I think it will be very good for them.
‘Sometimes I think that when people behave very well in public, which I think they will do, they find it easier to behave better in private. Prince Philip and the Queen were conciliators all their life so I’m sure that is what he would have wanted’.
Her Majesty’s youngest son Edward, his wife Sophie and their 17-year-old daughter Lady Louise nodded to well-wishers as they drove through the gates of Windsor Castle this afternoon.
The family then stopped to inspect bouquets, notes, cards and balloons left by well-wishers mourning the death of the Queen’s husband a week ago now moved to outside St George’s Chapel.
Sophie, while looking over handwritten letters from children, could be heard saying ‘how sweet’, before speaking to her husband about the huge amount of flowers.
They walked around for about fifteen minutes before leaving.
Among them were wreaths bearing messages from Boris Johnson, Nicola Sturgeon and the Royal Navy. The couple appeared touched by the tributes.
Edward inspected the tributes 24 hours after his eldest brother Charles shed tears as he did the same at Marlborough House – the home of the Commonwealth – in central London, where floral tributes laid at the gates of Buckingham Palace are brought each evening.
A wreath from Boris Johnson has paid tribute to the Duke of Edinburgh, saying the nation owes him ‘more than words can say’.
The Prime Minister’s written message, laid outside St George’s Chapel in the grounds of Windsor Castle, read: ‘In grateful memory of a man to whom the nation owes more than words can say. Sent on behalf of the nation. From the Prime Minister’.
A wreath from Nicola Sturgeon read: ‘With deepest sympathy from the First Minister of Scotland and the Scottish Government.’
The Royal Navy’s tribute read: ‘In gratitude for an exceptional life of service from all ranks of the Royal Navy. Fair winds and following seas.’
The Earl of Wessex, Lady Louise Windsor and the Countess of Wessex view flowers outside St George’s Chapel, at Windsor Castle
Her Majesty, 94, drove her green Jaguar through the grounds of Windsor Castle, where the Duke of Edinburgh will be laid to rest