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Final preparations under way for the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral at Windsor

14 April 2021

Owing to Covid restrictions, only 30 people will attend the service on Saturday


A soldier from the Life Guards during rehearsals on Wednesday for the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral at Windsor Castle

A soldier from the Life Guards during rehearsals on Wednesday for the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral at Windsor Castle

FINAL preparations are being made for the funeral of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, in St George’s Chapel, Windsor, on Saturday afternoon.

Full details of the service, including the order of service, have not yet been published, but plans have been approved by the Queen, and are believed to be in accordance with the Duke’s wishes. It was also his preference that it be designated a ceremonial royal funeral rather than a state funeral.

Covid restrictions mean that only 30 people will attend the funeral. It will be conducted by the Dean of Windsor, the Rt Revd David Conner, and the Archbishop of Canterbury. The public has been enjoined to stay away from Windsor on the day, paying tribute to the Duke by watching the funeral on television. There will be a minute’s silence at 3 p.m.

The Duke’s military service will be honoured largely in the procession of the coffin from the private chapel in Windsor Castle to St George’s. The Household Cavalry and the Foot Guards will line the grounds, the Band of the Grenadier Guards will lead the procession, and the route will be lined representatives from the Royal Navy, the Royal Marines, the Highlanders, 4th Battalion Royal Regiment of Scotland, and the Royal Air Force.

A guard of honour and band from the Rifles will meet the coffin on route, and a Royal Navy piping party will pipe the coffin at the West Steps of St George’s Chapel, where the procession will pause for the minute’s silence before entering the Chapel.

Services to commemorate the Duke’s life were approved by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York and published by Cambridge University Press over the weekend (News, 10 April). The Archbishops have approved a service of prayer, for use in church or at home; a Service of the Word; and two forms of holy communion using modern and traditional language.

The Church of England website lists prayers giving thanks for Prince Philip’s life and asking for comfort for the Queen and all who mourn his death.

Parish churches and cathedrals have been drawing on these resources for special services through the week (News, 12 April). Many have set up candle stations with a photograph of the Duke, but books of condolence have been restricted to being online.

York Minster announced on Wednesday that it is planning two special services: a choral evensong at 5.30 p.m. on Friday in thanksgiving for the Duke’s life, and a civic commemoration service at 5.30 p.m. next Wednesday, 21 April. Access is unticketed but limited to 150, and both services will be live-streamed. 

The Central Council of Church Bell Ringers advises the ringing of a single bell in the hour before the funeral. “You don’t need to toll for the full hour, just during the hour, e.g. up to 3 p.m. Half-muffled preferred, but a single bell tolling slowly whether half-muffled, fully muffled, or even unmuffled, will have the desired effect.”

The Church Times Festival of Faith and Literature will go ahead on Saturday, but will finish early, at 2.30 p.m., after Brian McLaren’s session. The Archbishop of York will not now attend. Tickets are still available. The whole programme can be watched at a later date.

Read an obituary of Prince Philip here

You can also read more about Prince Philip from Bishop Graham James, and in letters, quotations, and Poet’s Corner

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