The Queen Elizabeth II gives the last goodbye this Saturday to the man with whom she was married for 73 years, her “strength and support”, the prince philip, at a sober military-style funeral with masks and few guests due to the pandemic.
The religious ceremony will begin at 3:00 p.m. (2:00 p.m. GMT) in Saint George, the Gothic chapel of the 15th century located in the almost millennium castillo de Windsor, about 50 km west of London.
Due to the coronavirus, the British were asked not to travel to this small town. Still the terraces of its pubs should be filled with supporters of the crown, covered with British flags, to follow the event on television like millions of others.
At the beginning of the service, the country will observe a minute of silence.
But first, the four children and several of the grandchildren of the royal couple – including princes William and Harry – will walk behind the coffin in a short funeral procession through the castle gardens.
It will be the 36-year-old Harry’s first public appearance with royalty since he and his wife Meghan, who did not travel to the UK because she was pregnant, abandoned their royal duties and moved to California.
The prince will not walk with his brother Guillermo, 38 years old and second in the order of succession to the throne, with whom relations are tense, but his cousin Peter Phillips will be among them.
It may be “an eccentricity in planning or a deliberate attempt to keep them separate,” The Times wrote on Friday.
Without pomp and with a mask
The prince consort passed away on April 9, two months before his 100th birthday.
She had been a constant presence alongside Queen Elizabeth II since she was crowned at just 25 years old in 1952, when Britain was rebuilding after World War II and her world empire was beginning to crumble.
His death left a “huge void” in the life of the sovereign, said Andrés, the couple’s third son.
The restrictions imposed by the coronavirus forced a hasty modification of “Operation Forth Bridge”, a long-drawn-out funeral plan.
The funerals of British royalty are usually of great scope, perfected over years and attended by monarchs and leaders from around the world.
The last one, in 2002 due to the death of the queen mother, cost more than 5.4 million pounds (6.2 million dollars or 5.2 million euros) and brought together more than a million people in front of the abbey Wesminster in London.
But Felipe’s burial, limited by the pandemic to 30 intimate guests with masks and safety distances, will respect the simplicity and marked military style desired by the duke, who was a Navy officer.
The coffin will be received by military cornets and representatives of the three armies for a short procession.
The coffin will be carried in a military green Land Rover designed following the instructions provided by Felipe himself.
The queen, alone
The queen, who turns 95 on April 21, will arrive aboard an official Bentley with a lady in waiting.
But she will sit alone to say her last goodbye to whom she called “her strength and her support,” the man she married while still a princess in 1947 and whose death leaves her alone in the twilight of her reign.
Numerous royal experts assure that it was the Duke of Edinburgh who managed with an iron hand a family marked by crises, helping the queen to weather the scandals.
All eyes will be on Harry and Guillermo, looking for some sign of reconciliation between the grief over the loss of their grandfather.
He was a “man of service, honor and a great sense of humor,” Harry said of him after arriving from Los Angeles for the funeral.
“I will miss my grandfather, but I know he would have wanted us to continue with our work,” Guillermo said this week.
Despite the marked military style of the ceremony, the men of the royal family will not wear uniforms.
According to the press, the Queen’s personal decision will avoid highlighting the loss of honorary military titles by Harry, despite having served twice in Afghanistan, after his resounding departure from the monarchy.
Following the funeral, presided over by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, spiritual leader of the Anglicans, the Duke will be buried in private in the royal vault of St George’s Chapel.
Travis M. Andrews is a features writer for The Washington Post. He joined The Post in 2016 as a reporter for Morning Mix. He was previously a travel and culture editor for Southern Living magazine, a contributing pop culture reporter for Mashable and the Week, and a contributing editor for the Syfy blog Dvice. He also has freelanced for magazines, including Esquire, GQ and Time. He is the author of the coming book “Because He’s Jeff Goldblum,” a semi-rumination and semi-ridiculous look at the career of the enigmatic actor and an exploration of the shifting nature of fame in the 21st century, to be published in November by Plume.