The coronavirus pandemic will have a huge impact on the carefully crafted plans for the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral.
With restrictions still in place, the public elements of the final farewell to the queen’s husband cannot take place in their original form.
Detailed plans for Prince Philip’s funeral had previously been drawn up in an operation codenamed Forth Bridge. This would have seen thousands of people from across the UK and abroad present to camp and line the streets of London.
However, according to the blocking rules, mass gatherings are not permitted. The Duke’s funeral is expected to continue and televised at St. George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle.
Behind the scenes, courtiers were busy devising an emergency strategy in case Prince Philip died during the coronavirus crisis – a worst-case scenario that has come true today.
Preparations are now focused on Windsor Castle, excluding the military procession in London or processions through Windsor.
However, the exact final precautions will depend on how the UK is handling the outbreak and the current R-value – the number of people an infected person passes the virus on to.
England is still in its third national lockdown and the nation is moving forward through the relaxation of restrictions.
Current funeral rules in England mean that only a maximum of 30 people are allowed to attend, and they must distance themselves socially if they don’t live together or share a support bubble. This means that the queen must decide which members of her extended family to invite.
The monarch, her children, and other relatives present may need to wear face coverings and stay two meters apart if they are not from the same household.
World leaders and representatives of the Commonwealth, as well as foreign kings, past and present politicians, and military chiefs would have been among those to be invited to the funeral, but such arrangements will now be impossible.
There will also be no lie for the Duke – which would have put thousands of members of the public in line to see his coffin.
A memorial service – not something the Duke wanted – could be held at a later date after the nation tackles its worst public health crisis in a generation.
A former head of MI5 – Lord Chamberlain Baron Parker of Minsmere – has overall responsibility for the Duke’s funeral, which is closely supported by other courtiers as well as government officials.