Prince Charles has paid a moving tribute to his father for the years of “remarkable, devoted service to the Queen”, as the palace unveiled details of the Duke of Edinburgh’s low-key funeral on Saturday.
The prince said he was deeply grateful for public support following Prince Philip’s death at the age of 99. “As you can imagine, my family and I miss my father enormously,” he told reporters outside Highgrove, his Gloucestershire estate.
Prince Charles said that his father was “a much-loved and appreciated figure and apart from anything else, I can imagine, he would be so deeply touched by the number of other people here and elsewhere around the world and the Commonwealth, who also I think, share our loss and our sorrow”.
He said: “My dear papa was a very special person who I think above all else would have been amazed by the reaction and the touching things that have been said about him and from that point of view we are, my family, deeply grateful for all that. It will sustain us in this particular loss and at this particularly sad time.”
Prince Philip’s funeral will be held on 17 April in St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle, and a nationwide minute’s silence will be observed as it begins at 3pm. The duke left strict instructions that it should be a low-key affair without a formal lying-in-state.
With numbers strictly limited by coronavirus rules, the ceremony will be televised and only 30 guests will attend instead of the planned 800.
The Queen and other family members are expected to wear masks and remain socially distanced as they gather to say their final farewell. All of the duke’s children and grandchildren are expected to attend.
The Duke of Sussex will attend but the palace has confirmed that the Duchess of Sussex, 39, who is heavily pregnant, has been advised by her physician not to travel from the couple’s home in California.
Downing Street said Boris Johnson would also not attend, in order to make room for more members of the royal family.
The duke’s coffin is expected to be transported to the chapel in a modified Land Rover he helped to design, followed by Prince Charles and senior royals on foot, including his sons the Duke of Cambridge and Harry.
The route of the procession will be lined by representatives from the Royal Navy, Royal Marines, the Army and RAF, with the cortege led by the Band of the Grenadier Guards.
The official period of mourning will end with the conclusion of the ceremony, the palace said. Officials also repeated their plea for well-wishers to stay away from Windsor.
Large numbers of armed police are expected to patrol the streets of Windsor on Saturday although the funeral will take place entirely within the grounds of Windsor Castle.
Public elements of Operation Forth Bridge – the codename for the duke’s funeral plans – have been abandoned due to fears that crowds could gather to pay tribute to the duke, potentially undermining coronavirus guidance.
“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,” they said.
“The family’s wish is very much that people continue to follow the guidelines to keep themselves and others safe.”
As tributes continued to pour in for the duke, it was reported that he could be memorialised with a statue on The Mall in London after a proposal received cross-party support, the Sunday Telegraph reported.
Sources from the three main political parties told the newspaper that they would support plans for a monument.
A Downing Street source reportedly said the PM would be likely to back the idea, while a Labour source said a statue would be “a fitting tribute for [the duke’s] years of service”.
Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey said that he would back the proposal “subject to the Queen agreeing” and suggested that the monument should be of the monarch and her husband.
A statue of Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother, depicted with her husband George VI at the time she was widowed, aged 51, was unveiled in 2009.