Prince Philip funeral: Queen and family members 'will wear masks', duke to be buried in lead-lined oak coffin
With no more than 30 people allowed to attend, the palace is urging mourners to stay away from gathering as Prince Philip's scaled-down but ceremonial funeral approaches
While mourners are being requested to stay at home and not risk fines for Prince Philip's funeral, reports reveal that the ceremony has been massively scaled down because of the Covid-19 pandemic. As of now, only 30 guests are allowed, reports Daily Mail, and all of them, including the Queen, are required to wear masks.
This comes after it was revealed that the late Duke of Edinburgh will be laid to rest in a lead-lined English oak coffin that was made for him some 30 years ago, along with a matching casket for the Queen. He will also be borne to St George's Chapel in Windsor in the back of his very own self-designed hearse which happens to be one of the two 'open top' hybrid Land Rovers that was developed with the help of the army.
Lead-lined coffins keep out moisture and preserve the body for longer, thus making it a usual choice for royals. However, nobody knows how old Philip's coffin is as they had inherited both his and the Queen's JH Kenyon in 1991. Director Andrew Leverton told The Times: "It is not something you can just make in a day, or a few hours. It was felt that it was important to have it available." Adding how English oak was 'very difficult to get hold of', he revealed most oak coffins are made from American wood.
John Story, mayor of Windsor and Maidenhead, called the upcoming Saturday, April 17 funeral 'a great honor' for the royal borough but said: "It is a really serious message that everyone stays away. There will be nothing to see." Large groups will be broken up, reports Daily Mail, adding that, "The officers on the day will take whatever operational decisions which are required. It is a very difficult time for people and people have very strong feelings, but we have to ask everyone to put theirs and the health and safety of others at the top of their list of priorities and not come into Windsor. The whole of the funeral, including the ceremonial procession, is taking place inside the castle walls."
If it weren't for the pandemic, Philip, who had meticulously planned his funeral, would have been carried in a special Land Rover, over 23-miles from Wellington Arch at Hyde Park Corner to St George's Chapel in the grounds of Windsor Castle. Now, the coffin will travel from the castle to the church, where only 30 guests are allowed. While the Queen will not take part in the procession that Princes Harry, William, and other members of the Royal Family will follow on foot, masks are a mandate. The Queen, as well as her family, will have to wear face masks and stick to social distancing norms at the service as it gets televised live.
To allow as many of Philip's family as possible to attend amid the current restrictions, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said he won't be attending the funeral. But although scaled-down, the funeral will still be a ceremonial royal one, in line with the Queen's mother in 2002. "This event will be much reduced in scale with no public access. In line with Government guidelines and public health measures, there will be no public processions and the Duke's funeral will take place entirely within the grounds of Windsor Castle," a palace spokesperson said, reports Daily Mail.
They added: "The plans have been given final approval by the Queen and reflect appropriately Government advice. Despite these necessary changes, they still very much reflect the personal wishes of the Duke. Although the ceremonial arrangements are reduced, the occasion will still celebrate and recognize the Duke's life and his more than 70 years of service to the Queen, the UK and the Commonwealth."