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Latest Updates from Prince Philip’s Funeral

LiveUpdated April 17, 2021, 1:56 p.m. ETApril 17, 2021, 1:56 p.m. ET

The Duke of Edinburgh, the husband of Queen Elizabeth II and patriarch of the House of Windsor, died last week at age 99.

Queen Elizabeth II watched as pallbearers carried Prince Philip’s coffin during his funeral at St. George’s Chapel on Saturday.
Queen Elizabeth II watched as pallbearers carried Prince Philip’s coffin during his funeral at St. George’s Chapel on Saturday.Credit…Pool photo by Dominic Lipinski

Queen Elizabeth II, wearing a black mask and seated alone, said goodbye to her husband of more than 73 years, Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, at his funeral on Saturday at St. George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle.

The ceremony for Prince Philip, who died last week at age 99, was highly unusual — in part because coronavirus restrictions meant that it had to be scaled back, but also because it followed a very public airing of a family rift.

Members of the royal family — Philip’s four children, Charles, Anne, Andrew and Edward, and some of his grandchildren, including William and Harry — walked in a somber procession behind his coffin as it was driven to the chapel.

As is custom, no family members delivered a eulogy, but the Right Rev. David Conner, dean of Windsor, who conducted the funeral service, spoke of “the many ways in which his long life has been a blessing to us.”

“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,” he said. “Our lives have been enriched through the challenges that he has set us, the encouragement that he has given us, his kindness, humor and humanity.”

Pandemic rules in Britain meant that the funeral was pared down, with adjustments including a limit of 30 guests at the church service. The queen and the select family members in attendance all wore masks and were seated six feet apart in the chapel.

But the subdued service reflected not only the reality of life in a pandemic, but also Philip’s own wishes for the ceremony, Buckingham Palace said. The prince was deeply involved in the organization of the event, which was years in the planning.

Before the ceremony, his coffin was moved on Saturday afternoon from a private chapel in Windsor Castle to the castle’s Inner Hall, where prayers were said.

The ceremony was rich with symbolism and nods to Philip’s life of service to the royal family and to Britain. The Grenadier Guards, a centuries-old regiment of the British Army, which the Duke of Edinburgh served as a colonel for more than four decades, placed his coffin on a hearse that the prince helped design. The vehicle, a modified Land Rover Defender, then led a small procession toward St. George’s Chapel, also on the grounds of Windsor Castle.

The process of designing the hearse began 18 years ago, and tweaks were still being made up until 2019. The open-top rear section was custom-made to Philip’s specifications, and the original vehicle was repainted “dark bronze green,” typical of military use, at his request.

Philip served in the Royal Navy, seeing combat during World War II, and his naval cap and sword were placed on his coffin before the funeral service. The coffin was draped in his personal flag, which pays tribute to his Greek heritage and his British titles. A variety of other military groups were represented during the procession, and a team of Royal Marines carried his coffin into St. George’s Chapel.

In the procession, members of the royal family with honorary military titles wore suits displaying their medals rather than uniforms, apparently in deference to Prince Harry, who was forced to give up his military titles when he stepped away from royal duties.

The queen arrived at the chapel by car. Before the service began, there was a national minute of silence.

There was much speculation about how the family dynamic would play out, as the funeral will be the first time that Harry has returned to Britain since stepping down as a senior royal. The service also came just weeks after he and his wife, Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, gave a bombshell interview to Oprah Winfrey in which they laid bare their problems with the royal family.

The funeral service lasted less than an hour. A choir of four sang music chosen by Prince Philip, but were some distance from the seated guests, in line with public health guidelines.

Near the end of the service, the “Last Post” was played by musicians from Britain’s Royal Marines, before military buglers had one final task. As planned by Prince Philip, the buglers sounded so-called Action Stations — a call used on naval warships to summon crew to battle readiness.

His body was interred in the royal vault in St. George’s Chapel. Flags in Britain that have flown at half-staff at royal residences since his death will remain that way until Sunday.

Front from left, Prince Philip, Prince William, Earl Spencer, Prince Harry and  Prince Charles at the funeral of Princess Diana in 1997.
Front from left, Prince Philip, Prince William, Earl Spencer, Prince Harry and Prince Charles at the funeral of Princess Diana in 1997.Credit…John Shelley Collection/Avalon, via Getty Images

Almost 24 years ago, the world watched as a pair of brothers, ages 15 and 12, walked a mile through the grounds of Windsor Castle behind a horse-drawn carriage holding their mother’s coffin.

The image of the boys, Prince William and Prince Harry, heads bowed as they walked slowly alongside their father, uncle and grandfather, became seared into Britain’s national consciousness.

On Saturday afternoon, the eyes of the country and the world again turned to the brothers at a different funeral — that of their grandfather Prince Philip.

This time, much of the interest centered on the relationship between the princes, weeks after Harry and his wife, Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, gave a searing interview to Oprah Winfrey and spoke of their differences with the royal family. Harry also described his brother and father, Prince Charles, as being “trapped” by their roles.

William and Harry both walked behind their grandfather’s coffin during a procession to the funeral service, but Prince Philip’s eldest grandchild, Peter Phillips, walked between the brothers. The brothers, like all the other mourners present, sat apart while in the chapel.

But as they left after the ceremony, the television cameras homed in on the brothers walking together away from the building. As their family left the chapel, Harry walked alongside William and his wife, Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge, and they could be seen exchanging a few words.

Princes William and Harry were separated by a cousin, Peter Phillips, in the funeral procession for Prince Philip.Credit…Pool photo by Adrian Dennis

Speculation about whether their grandfather’s funeral will help heal the brothers’ apparently strained relationship has swirled since Philip’s death on April 9. Harry returned to Britain this week from his home in California, his first visit since stepping down as a senior royal last year. Meghan, who is pregnant, remained at home on doctor’s orders, Buckingham Palace said.

In the days leading up to the funeral, the British tabloids pored over the brothers’ relationship, with The Daily Mail asking, “If you were William, could you forgive Harry?” But in public statements, both men focused on the personal loss of their family’s patriarch.

In his statement, William said of his grandfather, “I feel lucky to have not just had his example to guide me, but his enduring presence well into my own adult life — both through good times and the hardest days.”

“I will miss my grandpa, but I know he would want us to get on with the job,” he added.

Harry, in a separate statement, said that Philip had been “authentically himself” and was a man who “could hold the attention of any room due to his charm.” He added that his grandfather would be remembered “as the longest-reigning consort to the monarch, a decorated serviceman, a prince and a duke.”

“But to me,” Harry added, “like many of you who have lost a loved one or grandparent over the pain of this past year, he was my grandpa: master of the barbecue, legend of banter, and cheeky right ’til the end.”

Outside Buckingham Palace in central London on Saturday.
Outside Buckingham Palace in central London on Saturday.Credit…Mary Turner for The New York Times

Hundreds of people congregated outside the gates of Buckingham Palace on Saturday to publicly pay their respects to Prince Philip, who spent more than seven decades as consort and steadfast companion to Queen Elizabeth II.

Mark Elphick, a retired engineer who served for two decades in Britain’s Royal Navy, stood on the sidewalk opposite the palace in somber contemplation. The sunlight caught on the medals pinned to his blazer, with a beret and a pair of highly polished shoes leaving no doubt of his military service.

“He was a very well thought of man in the Royal Navy and very well respected,” Mr. Elphick said of Prince Philip, adding that he had met him in person three times. “When I met him privately, he was a character, a proper English gentleman who was forthright in his views.”

Mr. Elphick said he was emotional at the news of Philip’s death, but knew that no one would be feeling the moment more than the queen.

“The queen will be devastated,” Mr. Elphick said, “and if there is a word deeper than that, she will be feeling it.”

Though Elizabeth and Philip spent most of the last year at Windsor Castle because of the coronavirus pandemic, Buckingham Palace — the queen’s official London residence a short distance away — remains to many the monarchy’s most familiar and enduring home.

The floral tributes in honor of Prince Philip that carpeted the ground outside the palace gates upon news of his death on April 9 were moved a short walk away this week, a measure intended to avoid attracting crowds during the pandemic.

But mourners of all ages still made their way on Saturday to the gates of Buckingham Palace, about 20 miles away from where Prince Philip’s funeral was being held, to lay flowers and pay tribute to the patriarch of the House of Windsor.

With a union jack scarf wrapped around her neck, Maria Magureva, a Bulgarian who has lived in London for 10 years, placed yellow roses and a notecard to Prince Philip.

“I want to say to the queen, ‘Be strong,’” she said. “She must be crushed — it’s like losing her right hand.”

Norah Salem, a Ph.D. student originally from Saudi Arabia, said that she had traveled from southern England to break her fast for Ramadan with some family later, but she stopped by the palace to bring flowers because of her deep sadness at the prince’s death.

The crowd swelled ahead of the national minute of silence and the solemn moment’s end was marked by the shouted commands of the guards stationed within the palace grounds.

Many who quietly approached the gates surrounding the palace spoke with admiration of Philip. Julia Beyer, 42, and her son Logan came to pay their respects to a man she said had been a constant presence in Britons’ lives for seven decades.

“He was so special and lived a full life,” she said. “It is not the easiest job for a man, but he wore his duty so honorably.”

Martin Connell, 57, who traveled to the palace to pay his respects to Philip before heading home to watch the funeral service, said that he appreciated the duke’s humility and dedication to duty.

“He showed how you can be just as important standing off center stage,” he said. “He was a very humble person, and he did an excellent job supporting the queen. It took me until I was older to understand the sacrifices he made.”

Many who made pilgrimages to the palace were saddened that the pandemic had halted any gatherings to share in their collective grief on a similar scale to the funerals of Princess Diana or the Queen Mother.

“A bigger celebration would have been nice,” said Sarah Pass, who came to the palace with her 8-year-old daughter.

She said they had also experienced the death of a close relative at 99 years old. “It is just bringing out a lot of grief that has been dormant,” Ms. Pass said. “It feels like the end of an era, that ‘stiff upper lip’ generation has almost gone.”

In this photograph taken by Sophie, Countess of Wessex, Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip visited the Cairngorms National Park in Scotland in 2003.
In this photograph taken by Sophie, Countess of Wessex, Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip visited the Cairngorms National Park in Scotland in 2003.Credit…The Countess of Wessex/Buckingham Palace, via Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Alan Cowell, a longtime New York Times correspondent, reflects on the death of Prince Philip and his funeral.

Elizabeth and Philip were married the year I was born — 1947 — when Britain’s deference toward its royal family had not yet been exposed to the merciless shredding that was to come. Back then, my own family might almost have seen itself reflected, albeit remotely, in their lives.

Like Prince Philip, whose funeral was held on Saturday, my father had served in World War II, on deployments that were so protracted that, my mother recalled, she went three years without seeing him. In London, Buckingham Palace was bombed. So, too, were the rowhouses in Barrow-in-Furness in northwestern England where my aunts, uncles and grandparents lived, close to the shipyards targeted by the German Air Force.

When Elizabeth was crowned Queen Elizabeth II in 1953, we clustered around a small black-and-white television at a neighbor’s home to follow what was billed as the country’s first coronation to be broadcast live. Certainly, it was a moment of pomp that seemed to fete Britain’s re-emergence from postwar deprivation.

But by the time Prince Philip died last week, Britons had long ceased to march quite so closely in step with the royals. The mirror had become distant, supplanted by the oft-voiced questions: When did the sovereign family and its subjects begin to go their separate ways? And what does that bode for the future of the monarchy?

Prince Philip, who married the future queen in 1947, brought the monarchy into the 20th century.

Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip in Kolkata as part of a 1961 Commonwealth tour of India.
Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip in Kolkata as part of a 1961 Commonwealth tour of India.Credit…Paul Popper/Popperfoto, via Getty Images

NAIROBI, Kenya — At a state lodge in Kenya’s central highlands, Prince Philip in February 1952 delivered to his wife of four years, then known as Princess Elizabeth, the news that would change their lives forever: Her father, King George VI, had died, and she was to be queen.

Philip, who died on April 9 at age 99, spent the next seven decades not only as the queen’s consort, but also in a central role in reshaping Britain’s monarchy for the modern era. Known as the Duke of Edinburgh, he was a patron or member of hundreds of organizations, devoted himself to educational and scientific projects, and attended public events to support the queen — participating in more than 22,000 solo engagements before his retirement in 2017.

But in parsing Philip’s legacy, his most visible role for much of the world outside Britain was in complementing the queen as she fulfilled her duties as head of the Commonwealth. The organization, largely composed of colonies once under the British Empire, has defined Queen Elizabeth II’s 70-year reign.

From the onset, Philip recognized the monarchy’s “centrality” in the Commonwealth, said Sean Lang, a senior lecturer in history at Anglia Ruskin University in Britain. And over the next few decades, he established initiatives like the Commonwealth Study Conferences to examine and find solutions for global challenges, in addition to founding the Duke of Edinburgh award program, which helped millions of young people build self-confidence and hone their outdoor skills.

The projects not only “transformed lives,” Mr. Lang said, but also “helped to associate the monarchy with shaping the future instead of living in the past.”

Yet the concept of the Commonwealth, aimed at projecting and preserving British influence, has come under increasing scrutiny in recent years, particularly in the wake of the recent interview Prince Harry and his wife, Meghan, gave to Oprah Winfrey. In it, they related that a member or members of the royal family had said they did not want the couple’s child, Archie, to be a prince or princess, and expressed concerns about how dark his skin would be.

The Black Lives Matter protests in the United States have also revived debates in Britain around racism and the legacy of empire, even as more Commonwealth nations mull abandoning the queen as their head of state, or declare themselves a republic.

As Philip is being lauded for supporting the queen in upholding the Commonwealth, that depiction represents a kind of romantic fixation that detracts from history, said Patrick Gathara, a political commentator and cartoonist in Kenya.

“It’s made to seem that we should be invested in this institution rather than in the history that it actually represents,” Mr. Gathara said, adding, “The Commonwealth is born of colonialism and imperialism.”

After his death, Prince Philip’s sometimes offensive and racist remarks have also been revisited. During his tours around Commonwealth nations, he reportedly remarked to a former president of Nigeria, who wore a traditional dress, “You look like you are ready for bed.” He once asked, “You are a woman, aren’t you?” after accepting a gift from a woman in Kenya.

While different people will remember the comments differently — from blunders to jokes to derogatory statements — Mr. Gathara said the remarks expressed something deeper about privilege and power structures that continue to shape the world.

“If we had much more cognizance of the racist nature of the world’s system that grew out of colonialism, then these sort of statements, we wouldn’t see them as curiosities,” Mr. Gathara said. “We would see them as what they are: a real reflection of how the world works.”

Members of the news media outside Windsor Castle on April 9 after Prince Philip died.
Members of the news media outside Windsor Castle on April 9 after Prince Philip died.Credit…Jonathan Brady/PA Images, via Getty Images

Shortly after Prince Philip died on April 9, the BBC cut away from its schedule to broadcast special coverage across its television channels and radio stations for the entire afternoon and night.

As popular shows were taken off the air — including an episode of “EastEnders,” a soap opera that has run since 1985, and the final episode of “MasterChef,” a cooking competition show — the BBC was flooded with expressions of displeasure. To be exact: It received 109,741 complaints, the BBC said on Thursday, making it the most complained-about moment in the BBC’s history.

As Britain’s public broadcaster, the BBC has a pre-eminent position in the British media, and its funding from the public via a license fee puts it in a difficult position. It is frequently attacked for being too liberal, and too conservative, while its access to public funding is controlled by the government, currently a Conservative administration.

The BBC tries to reflect the mood of the nation, but recently a fierce debate about the role of the royal family bubbled up after Oprah Winfrey’s interview with Prince Harry and Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex.

Too little coverage of tributes to Philip, and the BBC would have run the risk of not showing proper respect for his life. Still, the broadcaster received so many online complaints that it set up a streamlined process — a dedicated online form — for people to register their disappointment about the extent of its coverage.

The BBC said on Thursday that Philip’s death “was a significant event which generated a lot of interest both nationally and internationally.” It also said that the decision to alter the schedule had been made with careful consideration, which “reflect the role the BBC plays as the national broadcaster, during moments of national significance.”

Two commercial broadcasters took divergent approaches. ITV, like the BBC, reportedly also had a large drop in viewers on April 9 amid its many hours of Prince Philip coverage. Channel 4 had special programming but then aired a popular show, “Gogglebox,” which shows people watching television, at 9 p.m.

On Saturday, the BBC and ITV will both broadcast Philip’s funeral.

Queen Elizabeth II leading members of the royal family in a procession in Westminster Abbey during a 2019 Commonwealth Day service.
Queen Elizabeth II leading members of the royal family in a procession in Westminster Abbey during a 2019 Commonwealth Day service.Credit…Pool photo by Richard Pohle

Amid coronavirus restrictions, Britain has had to adjust how it grieves over the past year. And with current rules allowing for just 30 people at funerals, the royal family scaled back plans for the service for Prince Philip.

A select handful of his closest family members were the only ones allowed in St. George’s Chapel. They were required to wear masks, follow social-distancing guidelines and refrain from singing, Buckingham Palace has said.

So who are those 30 people?

First, of course, there is Queen Elizabeth II. Like the rest of the family, she wore a face covering and had to sit at least six feet from other attendees.

Several family members took part in a procession behind Philip’s coffin before entering the chapel. The custom-built hearse was followed by his daughter, Anne, the Princess Royal; and by his son Charles, the Prince of Wales. Directly behind them were their younger brothers, Prince Edward, the Earl of Wessex; and Prince Andrew, the Duke of York.

Then some of Philip’s grandchildren followed: Prince Harry, the Duke of Sussex; Peter Philips, the son of Princess Anne; and Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge, in that order.

Behind them were the final two in the procession: Vice Admiral Timothy Laurence, Princess Anne’s husband; and David Armstrong-Jones, the Earl of Snowdon and son of Princess Margaret, the queen’s deceased sister.

Other family members gathered inside the church. Charles’s wife, Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, was seated with him, and Prince Edward was joined by his wife, Sophie, the Countess of Wessex, and their two children, Lady Louise Windsor and James, Viscount Severn.

Prince William’s wife, Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge, also joined him in the church. Prince Harry’s wife, Meghan, who is pregnant with their second child, did not travel with him from their home in California.

Zara Tindall, Princess Anne’s daughter; and the Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie, the daughters of Prince Andrew along with their spouses — were also present.

Princess Margaret’s daughter, Lady Sarah Chatto, and her husband, Daniel Chatto, attended, as did three of the queen’s cousins who regularly carry out official royal duties: Prince Richard, the Duke of Gloucester; Prince Edward, the Duke of Kent; and Princess Alexandra.

Three of Prince Philip’s German relatives were also in attendance: Bernhard, Hereditary Prince of Baden; Donatus, Prince and Landgrave of Hesse; and Philipp, Prince of Hohenlohe-Langenburg.

And there was room for one more distant family member, Penelope Knatchbull, Countess Mountbatten, who was a close friend and carriage-driving partner of Prince Philip. She is married to the grandson of Lord Louis Mountbatten, Philip’s uncle, who was much beloved by the royal family. Lord Mountbatten was killed by the Irish Republican Army in 1979.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson, left, after attending a parade commemorating Prince Philip at the Britannia Royal Naval College in Dartmouth, England, on Thursday.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson, left, after attending a parade commemorating Prince Philip at the Britannia Royal Naval College in Dartmouth, England, on Thursday.Credit…Finnbarr Webster/Getty Images

With Covid-19 restrictions limiting the numbers of mourners at Prince Philip’s funeral, Prime Minister Boris Johnson is one of the most prominent figures to miss Saturday’s ceremony in Windsor Castle.

Under regular circumstances, Mr. Johnson would have been high on the list of several hundred people invited to pay their last respects at the ceremony, a significant moment in Britain’s national life.

But as soon as attention began to focus on the practicalities of holding the funeral under pandemic rules, Downing Street said that Mr. Johnson would not attend.

“The Prime Minister has throughout wanted to act in accordance with what is best for the royal household, and so to allow for as many family members as possible will not be attending the funeral on Saturday,” Downing Street said in a statement last weekend.

Given that his government designed the coronavirus restrictions, Mr. Johnson’s decision to make space for family members looks well judged, and at least allows him to say that he will watch the event like most Britons, on a screen.

British political leaders must tread a fine diplomatic line in dealings with their monarch, who is their head of state and leads a royal family that attracts worldwide interest.

Participating in royal ceremonies usually raises the prestige of politicians, but there are dangers in being considered eager to exploit the attention generated by royal occasions — particularly when a member of the royal family has died.

That is something that Mr. Johnson will recall from his previous career as a journalist.

In 2002, the Spectator and the Mail on Sunday accused Downing Street of intervening in arrangements for the funeral of the Queen Mother to try to secure a more prominent role for Tony Blair, who was prime minister at the time.

Downing Street denied the claims, saying it had sought only to clarify what role Mr. Blair would play rather than seeking to expand it. It even protested to a press watchdog but ultimately withdrew its complaint after much negative publicity in the aftermath of the Queen Mother’s funeral.

That was at least a partial victory for the Spectator, whose editor at the time was Mr. Johnson.

An image released by Netflix showing Matt Smith as Prince Philip in “The Crown.”
An image released by Netflix showing Matt Smith as Prince Philip in “The Crown.”Credit…Robery Vigalsky/Netflix, via Associated Press

There were numerous portrayals of Prince Philip over the course of his long life. Actors including Tobias Menzies, Matt Smith, James Cromwell and Christopher Lee all played the part.

Yet no one ever truly captured the man’s essence onscreen, one of his biographers says.

The reason, said the biographer, Ingrid Seward, author of “Prince Philip Revealed,” is that no members of the public ever had the opportunity to study him closely. As a man accustomed to walking a few paces behind his wife, Queen Elizabeth II, he remained partly out of view.

Ms. Seward, who has interviewed many members of the royal family, including Prince Charles and Princess Diana, began talking to Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, in the late 1970s. And some of their early meetings were disasters. “He was rude to me,” she said.

But she eventually formed a clearer view of Philip’s complicated persona — his irascible character, his acerbic wit, his generosity of spirit.

The accuracy and relative merits of film and television portrayals of him evolved along with the public perception of the monarchy, from two television movies based on the courtship between Charles and Diana to Philip’s most recent depiction in “The Crown.”

In “The Crown,” which premiered in 2016, Matt Smith and Tobias Menzies played Philip, and Seward took issue with both portrayals.

“They make him seem grumpy and bored,” she said. “He was never bored. He led a really active, packed, busy life.”

She maintains that Smith in Seasons 1 and 2 didn’t carry himself the way Philip did. “Everyone knows that he walks with his hands behind his back, that he’s got a very military stance, even in his 99th year,” Seward said, adding that this posture made him seem taller than he actually was.

She said Smith’s Philip was too pouty and petulant, even if Philip did struggle to find a role for himself when Elizabeth first became queen.

“Philip does not sulk,” Seward said. “That is so not him.”

She said she found that in Seasons 3 and 4 Menzies offered a more nuanced portrayal of a man in midlife crisis, but that there was no such crisis.

“The moon landing, no, no, no,” Ms. Seward said, referring to the “Moondust” episode, in which Philip becomes obsessed with the Americans’ 1969 moon landing and wallows in feelings of failure because of his own, less-consequential position in life. (Jonathan Pryce will take over the role in Season 5.)

“Once Philip established himself, he was fine,” Ms. Seward said. “He accomplished so much, and he traveled all over the world on his own.”

— Jennifer Vineyard

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