Boris Johnson will not attend Prince Philip’s funeral due to Covid-19 guest limits

  • ITV News Royal Editor Chris Ship explains what will happen at the funeral

Boris Johnson will not attend the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral to allow for the attendance of as many family members as possible during coronavirus restrictions, No 10 has said.

The prime minister was understood to have been expected to attend the ceremony for Prince 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 and no public procession taking place.

The funeral will be broadcast live, including on ITV.

Downing Street said the prime minister has “throughout wanted to act in accordance with what is best for the Royal household” and will not go “to allow for as many family members as possible” to attend.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson will not attend Prince Philip's funeral due to a limit on numbers. Credit: PA

Prince Philip’s personal wishes have been taken into consideration and approved by the Queen

His coffin will be transported to the St George's Chapel at Windsor Castle in a Land Rover designed with the help of the Duke of Edinburgh. 

Pall bearers will be drawn from the Royal Marines and air stations close to Prince Philip, who served with distinction in the Second World War.

The coffin will emerge from the state entrance at 2.40pm, allowing those in the quadrangle to pay their respects.

The duke’s body will then be transported five minutes later to the West Steps via a procession which will take eight minutes, while the Curfew Tower bell tolls. 

The band of the Grenadier Guards and military chiefs will accompany the procession, to reflect the duke’s close relationship with the services. 

Prince Harry is set to attend without his wife, Meghan Markle. Credit: PA

Upon being received at the steps, Royal Marines will take the coffin from the Land Rover and carry it up the steps, backed by Household Cavalry pipers, pausing for a national minute’s silence at 3pm.

Only the Royal Family and the duke’s private secretary will attend the ceremony inside the chapel, leaving others within the grounds to disperse in silence. It is anticipated that Prince Harry, but not wife Meghan, will be in attendance. 

Currently, Covid rules in England restricts funerals to 30 guests, which will be adhered to by the Royal Family, although military personnel will be excluded from this figure as they will be deemed to be on duty. 

The coffin will be draped with the Duke of Edinburgh’s insignia personal standard, in addition to his naval cap, sword and a wreath of fresh flowers.

Although the event will be a mournful once, the service will celebrate the duke's life and achievements in his 99 years, the Palace says.

At the conclusion of the service, the coffin will be entered into the Royal Vault, where it will remain until the death of the Queen, whereupon they will be buried together.

The general public have been told not to travel to Windsor. 

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."

A Palace spokesman said the royal family hoped the coming days would be seen as a chance to celebrate the duke’s “remarkable life”.

“While this is naturally a time of sadness and mourning for the royal family and the many others who knew or admired the Duke of Edinburgh, it is hoped that the coming days will also be seen as an opportunity to celebrate a remarkable life – remarkable both in terms of his vast contribution and lasting legacy,” the spokesman said.

Paying tribute to the duke’s military record, his passion for science, engineering, design, art, the armed forces and charities, the spokesman added: “You can see why his influence is so much greater than many may imagine the role of the consort to be.”

“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.”

Flags at royal residences will continue to fly at half-mast until the morning after the Duke is laid to rest.

The Royal Family will be observing two weeks of formal mourning, that began on Friday, the day of his death.