‘Difficult’ decisions made by Queen as Covid-19 impacts Philip’s funeral

A congregation of 30 people will be required to socially distance and wear face masks.

Queen wearing a face mask
Queen wearing a face mask

The Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral will be profoundly different to services held for royal family members before him, with coronavirus restrictions to have a huge impact on arrangements.

Philip’s ceremonial royal funeral will take place on Saturday in St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle, with the royal household and the military working round the clock to ensure everything is ready for the historic occasion.

Buckingham Palace said the Queen faced “some very difficult” decisions as she selected the limited number of guests allowed to attend, and had tried to ensure all branches of the duke’s family were there.

A congregation of 30 people will attend the funeral, the maximum number of guests allowed under the Government’s Covid-19 regulations.

They will be seated in The Quire at the chapel and will wear face masks, Buckingham Palace confirmed.

Rules stipulate that a face covering is required by law when attending indoor places of worship, crematoriums and burial ground chapels.

The funeral was originally planned long ago for 800 guests but had to take into account the strict limit on numbers during the pandemic.

The Queen will be accompanied to the funeral in the state Bentley by a lady-in-waiting, but will sit alone in St George’s Chapel.

Scenes of rehearsals at Windsor Castle
Members of the Household Cavalry, The Blues and Royals rehearsing for the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral (Victoria Jones/PA)

As the Queen is staying at Windsor with around 20 staff members, dubbed HMS Bubble, she is unable to form a support bubble with another household.

She will sit by herself in the quire of the chapel, with all mourners following Covid-19 guidelines and remaining socially distanced.

Couples who are within one household, such as the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall, will be able to sit together.

DEATH Philip
(PA Graphics)

A small choir of four people will sing music chosen by Philip, and will be located in the nave away from the seated guests who will not join in with the singing.

A Buckingham Palace spokesman said: “At its heart it is still a family event.

“We are following the Covid guidelines.

“There was a limit on who could be invited as a guest and Her Majesty wanted to ensure that all branches of the duke’s family were there, and had to make some very difficult decisions about who would be there.

“For those that unfortunately can’t be there, I’m sure they will be making their own private arrangements about how they commemorate the duke, and indeed celebrate the duke.”

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