Prince Philip funeral: Queen orders Harry and William NOT to stand shoulder to shoulder during last rites
The estranged brothers will be separated by their cousin, Peter Phillips
Princes William and Harry will not walk shoulder to shoulder behind the Duke of Edinburgh's coffin when he is laid to rest during his funeral on April 17. The estranged brothers will be part of the small 30-member party of close family members who will follow Prince Philip's body, but they will be separated by their cousin, Peter Phillips, son of their aunt Princess Anne.
While the coffin is carried into St George's Chapel in Windsor, where the Duke will finally be laid to rest, William will move ahead of his younger brother, proceeding to take their seats separately, reported the Daily Mail.
When it comes to the brothers, the solemn event is being seen by some as a missed opportunity to show unity within the family in the wake of their grandfather's death while others went on to wonder if the princes were being kept apart deliberately at their own behest.
"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," a Buckingham Palace spokesman told the Daily Mail.
Princes William, 38, and Harry, 36, were last seen in public together at a Commonwealth Day service in March last year where they could barely look each other in the eye following Harry and his American wife Meghan Markle's bitter split from the royal family. The relations turned further sour after the couple's bombshell interview with Oprah Winfrey televised on March 7, 2021, in which they attacked senior royals while the late Prince Philip was still in the hospital.
It was hoped that the loss of their beloved grandfather, who was loved deeply by both brothers, might thaw the ice between them but the funeral is likely to be particularly difficult for the two as it will evoke memories of having to walk behind their mother, Lady Diana Spencer's coffin when they were just 15 and 13.
Prince Philip died on Friday, April 9, after struggling with deteriorating health for the past few weeks. The royal family issued a statement that announced the sad news and read: “It is with deep sorrow that Her Majesty The Queen announces the death of her beloved husband, His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. His Royal Highness passed away peacefully this morning at Windsor Castle. Further announcements will be made in due course. The Royal Family join with people around the world in mourning his loss.”
Details of the Duke of Edinburgh's royal ceremonial funeral, which will take place at 3 pm on April 17, were publicly released. These included the fact that the Queen will wear a mask, sit socially-distanced from her family and follow the coffin of her husband of 73 years in the state Bentley. The 30-strong congregation comprises all of Philip's children and grandchildren, their spouses and close relatives. This includes Prince Charles, Prince of Wales; Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall; Princess Anne, Vice Admiral Sir Timothy Laurence, Prince Andrew, Duke of York; Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex and Sophie, Countess of Wessex.
It is also understood that Prince Philip’s eight grandchildren will all be there too, including Peter Philips, Zara Tindall, Prince William, Prince Harry, Princess Beatrice, Princess Eugenie, Lady Louise Windsor and James, Viscount Severn. Prince William’s wife, Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge, will also be in attendance. Princess Margaret's son the Earl of Snowdon will also be there. The only non-family member of the group is his close friend and carriage driving companion Countess Mountbatten of Burma, Penny Knatchbull. Other royals including the Duchess of Kent have not been invited since Covid-19 guidelines meant a 1,000-name invitee list was whittled down.