Prince Philip

What We Know About Prince Philip's Funeral: Burial Plans, COVID Restrictions

Arrangements for Philip's death — codenamed "Operation Forth Bridge" — have been in place for years

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Prince Philip, who died Friday at age 99, will be laid to rest with all the honors due a prince of the United Kingdom and a consort to Queen Elizabeth II. But the coronavirus pandemic has required changes to the well-prepared plans for Philip’s passing. 

Flags on government buildings and royal residences were lowered to half-mast and will remain there until 8 a.m. BST (3 a.m ET) on the day after his funeral.

His death was marked with 41-gun salutes at noon on Saturday at locations across the country, including the Tower of London and Edinburgh Castle, as well as in Gibraltar and on Royal Navy ships at sea.

Britain’s political parties on Friday paused campaigning for next month’s local and Scottish elections, as Prime Minister Boris Johnson led political tributes. Lawmakers will return a day early from their Easter break so they can pay tribute to Philip in the House of Commons on Monday.

Given his age, the detailed plans for what should happen after Philip's death — codenamed "Operation Forth Bridge" — have been in place for years.

Here's what we know:

Will There Be a State Funeral for Prince Philip?

Philip’s body will not lie in state, a function both of the pandemic and his own “no fuss” attitude. Nor will it be a state funeral, in keeping with his wishes.

The College of Arms, the body that oversees ceremonial protocol, said Friday that the duke’s body will lie at rest in Windsor Castle, 25 miles (40 kilometers) west of London, where he spent his final weeks with the queen.

“This is in line with custom and with His Royal Highness’s wishes,” the college said.

When the Queen Mother Elizabeth — the last royal consort to pass on — died in 2002, her coffin lay in state at Parliament’s Westminster Hall, and thousands of people filed past to pay their last respects.

When and Where Will His Funeral Be?

His funeral will be held April 17 at St. George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle, the site of centuries of royal burials — and royal weddings, including the 2018 union of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.

It will be entirely closed to the public.

Prince Philip's Life in Photos

How Will the Coronavirus Pandemic Affect His Funeral Services and Tributes?

With Britain still in lockdown, the coronavirus pandemic means it will be a more low-key farewell than has marked many royal deaths. The pandemic has required changes to the well-prepared plans for Philip’s passing, code-named Operation Forth Bridge.

Palace officials said the ceremony would be conducted strictly in line with the British government's COVID-19 guidelines, which restrict the number of people attending funerals to 30. They declined to say whether the royal family would be required to wear masks.

Both the palace and the British government urged people not to gather or lay flowers outside the royal residences to honor him. The palace instead invited well-wishers to sign a book of condolences — but only online, to avoid crowds and queues.

Britain, which has Europe's highest toll in the pandemic at over 127,000 dead, is still under some lockdown restrictions to combat the spread of COVID-19.

Who Will Be Invited to Attend Prince Philip's Funeral?

As previously noted, funerals in the U.K. are capped at 30 or fewer attendees. That means, the list of invitees is likely going to be limited to immediate family and possibly heads of state from Commonwealth countries.

Prince Harry, Philip's grandson who stepped away from royal duties last year and now lives in California, will attend the service along with other members of the royal family. His wife, the Duchess of Sussex, who is pregnant, has been advised by her doctor not to attend.

Travelers from the U.S. must produce a negative COVID-19 test before they get on the plane and must self-isolate for 10 days upon arrival, but that quarantine can end early if a test after five days comes back negative.

The Associated Press/NBC
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