By Andrew MacAskill and Guy Faulconbridge
WINDSOR, UK (Reuters) -Queen Elizabeth will give her final farewell to Prince Philip, her husband of more than seven decades, at a solemn funeral on Saturday, with the nation to hold a minute of silence to mark the departure of an important figure in the British monarchy.
Philip’s coffin, who passed away at age 99 on April 9 at Windsor Castle, will be brought to the funeral at the castle’s St George’s Chapel in a specially modified Land Rover.
Prince Charles, heir to the throne and Philip’s three other children will follow behind the procession. Prince William and his brother Prince Harry – who returned from the United States to attend – will be on foot by their cousin Peter Phillips.
The Queen, who said death left a big void, will be driven behind the State Bentley. During the ritual that begins at 3pm (1400 GMT), the 94-year-old king will stand alone due to COVID-19 restrictions when her husband’s coffin is lowered into the Royal vault of the old chapel.
“She is the queen, she will behave with the extraordinary dignity and the extraordinary courage she has always done. At the same time, she is saying goodbye to someone she married in 73. years, “said Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury. who will help operate at the service.
Philip, who married Elizabeth in 1947, helped the young queen adapt the monarchy to the changing world of the post-World War II era when the loss of the empire and the decline of her reverence. spear has challenged the world’s most famous royal family.
She’s now a widow as she’s grappling with one of the most serious crises to hit the royal family in decades – allegations of racism and being abandoned by her nephew Harry. and his American wife Meghan.
ATTENTION ON HARRY
Much media attention will be focused on royal manners towards Harry as he makes his first public appearance with his family since the couple had an explosive interview with Oprah Winfrey. last month.
In the interview, they accused an unnamed royal of making racist comments and said Meghan’s pleas for help when she felt suicidal were ignored.
The couple, who moved to Los Angeles and relinquished royal duties last year, made their awareness of the family’s attitudes clear, leading to a criticism of the customs. outdated of an ancient institution.
Meghan said she was silenced by the “Company” while Harry said his father, Charles, refused to take his call. Harry said both Charles and his brother William are trapped in the royal family.
Meghan, who is pregnant, will not attend Saturday’s funeral because her doctor advised against doing so, Buckingham Palace said.
Mourners will stay away from the military uniforms tradition, a step the newspapers say is to avoid embarrassing Harry, who despite having served two tours in Afghanistan during his career, but cannot wear military uniform because he has been deprived of an honorary military title.
“We won’t get caught up in the perceptions of the drama series or anything like that,” said a spokesman for Buckingham Palace. “This is a funeral. The arrangements have been agreed, and they represent Your Majesty’s wishes.”
Prince Andrew, who resigned from public service in 2019 over controversy over what he called an “underrated” relationship with the late US financier Jeffrey Epstein, wanted to wear an admiral uniform at the ceremony mourning, British media reported.
The palace emphasized that while this occasion there will be a beauty contest marking the passing of a high-ranking royal, it remains an occasion for a funeral family to mark the departure of the husband and father. , grandfather and great-grandfather.
There will be only 30 funerals inside the chapel for this service because of the COVID-19 restrictions.
Archbishop Welby, leader of the Anglican Association worldwide, said he wished the funeral would resonate with the millions of people around the world who lost loved ones in the pandemic.
Philip’s dedication to his mission has made him widely known in the UK, but he has also been criticized by some for some racist or abrupt comments that caused princes, the priest and the president were shocked.
“He’s really himself, with a serious wit and can attract the attention of any room due to his charms and also because you never know what he is. Maybe next, “Harry said of his grandfather.
British broadcasters have deleted their schedules to show funerals and millions will follow, although there have been more than 100,000 complaints with the Broadcasting Corporation UK about the coverage since Philip passed. life.
Philip is a Royal Navy veteran adorned during World War II and his funeral, largely elaborately planned by the prince himself, will give off a strong military feel, with personnel from all over the armed forces played prominent roles.