Boris Johnson has chosen not attend the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral to allow for the attendance of as many family members as possible, No 10 has said.
The Prime Minister was understood to have been expected to attend the ceremony for Philip by the royals, but offered to step aside with the number of guests allowed limited to 30.
The duke’s funeral will take place in Windsor Castle on April 17, but it will be unlike typical royal send-offs, with the public being told to stay away because of the pandemic.
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A No 10 spokesman said: “As a result of the coronavirus regulations, only 30 people can attend the funeral of HRH The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.
“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”.
The televised royal funeral will take place on 17 April in St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle, and a national minute’s silence will be observed as it begins at 3pm.
The duke’s coffin will be transported from the castle to the chapel in a specially modified Land Rover he helped to design, and followed by the Prince of Wales and senior royals on foot, a senior Palace official said.
The Queen has approved the Prime Minister’s recommendation of national mourning, which began on 9 April and runs until and including the day of the funeral.
The coffin, borne on the Land Rover, will be flanked by pallbearers drawn from the duke’s special relationships – the Royal Marines, regiments, corps and air stations.
The procession from the state entrance of Windsor Castle to the west steps of St George’s Chapel will take eight minutes.
The Prince of Wales and members of the royal family will take part in the procession on foot, immediately behind the duke’s coffin, together with staff from Philip’s household.
The route of the procession will be lined by representatives drawn from the Royal Navy, the Royal Marines, the Highlanders, 4th Battalion Royal Regiment of Scotland and the Royal Air Force.
Minute guns will be fired by the King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery from the east lawn of Windsor Castle for the duration of the procession, and the Curfew Tower Bell will toll.
Only 30 people – expected to be the Duke’s children, grandchildren and other close family – will attend as guests, but the Duchess of Sussex has been advised by her physician not to travel to the UK for the funeral, a Palace spokesman said.
It is understood Meghan made every effort to be able to travel with Harry, who will be among the mourners, but has not received the medical clearance to board a plane.
Originally 800 people would have been due to gather to pay their respects to the nation’s longest serving consort, but Philip is known to have wanted a low key affair.
Public elements of Operation Forth Bridge – the codename for the duke’s funeral plans – were abandoned for fear of drawing crowds including the long held arrangements for military processions through London and Windsor.
Instead, the proceedings will take place entirely in the grounds of Windsor Castle, televised, but away from public view and with no access for royal fans.
A Palace spokesman said: “While there is sadness that the public will not be able to physically be part of events to commemorate the life of the duke, the royal family asks that anyone wishing to express their condolences do so in the safest way possible and not by visiting Windsor or any other royal palaces to pay their respects.
“The family’s wish is very much that people continue to follow the guidelines to keep themselves and others safe.
“His Royal Highness’s funeral will be broadcast to enable as many people as possible to be part of the occasion, to mourn with us and celebrate a truly extraordinary life.”
“The Covid-19 pandemic has of course required us to make significant adaptations to the original arrangements for His Royal Highness’s funeral,” the spokesman added.
“However, we are certain that the occasion will be no less fitting a farewell to His Royal Highness, marking his significant duty and service to the nation and the Commonwealth.”
Additional reporting from Press Association.