Prince Philip funeral scaled-down due to Covid, public offered online tributes

London: The British public are being urged to stay Covid-secure and use online methods to pay tribute to Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, who passed away at Windsor Castle on Friday morning.

Even as floral tributes began assembling at Buckingham Palace in London and Windsor Castle in Berkshire, south-east England, the palace said people should consider making a charity donation in lieu of gathering at the royal residences.

The message is in keeping with an overall scaling down of funeral arrangements for the Queen’s husband, who passed away aged 99, in keeping with current lockdown rules in England which allow for a gathering of up to 30 people at funerals.

During the current public health situation, Books of Condolence will not be available for the public to sign. The Royal Family ask that members of the public consider making a donation to a charity instead of leaving floral tributes in memory of the Duke, the Buckingham Palace statement read.

An Online Book of Condolence is now available on the Royal website for those who wish to send a personal message of condolence, the statement said.

Metropolitan Police officers have been reminding those gathering at the palace gates in London to adhere to social-distancing guidelines and remain two-metres apart from other groups.

Throughout his life, Prince Philip has been a great supporter of the Met, the policing family and the wider emergency services. Many Met colleagues will have worked closely with him during their service across many decades. His legacy is a lifetime of public service that commands respect across policing,” said Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick, in the Met Police tribute.

As was already expected, the Duke of Edinburgh will not have a state funeral, and there will be no lying-in-state, in line with his own wishes, as confirmed by the College of Arms in charge of organising royal funerals.

The College said Prince Philip will lie at rest in Windsor Castle before a royal ceremonial funeral at St. George’s Chapel.

“The funeral arrangements have been revised in view of the prevailing circumstances arising from the Covid-19 pandemic and it is regretfully requested that members of the public do not attempt to attend or participate in any of the events that make up the funeral,” the College statement said.

The date and other details of the funeral will be confirmed as the Queen signs off on modified funeral and ceremonial arrangements.

Flags will fly at half-mast on government buildings from Friday until 8am local time on the day after the funeral.

In keeping with royal tradition, the official notice of the Duke’s passing was placed on an easel outside Buckingham Palace and similarly outside the Palace of Holyroodhouse, the official residence of Queen Elizabeth II in Edinburgh, Scotland.

It reads: “It is with deep sorrow that Her Majesty The Queen announces the death of her beloved husband.

 His Royal Highness passed away peacefully this morning at Windsor Castle. The Royal Family join with people around the world in mourning his loss. Further announcements will be made in due course. 

A royal ceremonial funeral means the Duke’s death will be marked in the same way as the Queen Mother, the mother of Queen Elizabeth II, in 2002.

Under earlier arrangements for the days after the Duke’s death, codenamed Operation Forth Bridge, thousands of people would have been expected to gather in London and Windsor, with some even camping out to get a vantage point to watch the military procession.

Hundreds of members of the armed forces would also have lined the streets in honour of the Duke, alongside thousands of police officers to keep control of the crowds.

But organisers will now be finalising contingency plans which would avoid attracting mass gatherings at the funeral.