In normal times, royal funerals can match the scale of royal weddings, but the Duke of Edinburgh’s ceremony will be one of the smallest senders from a senior member of the British monarchy in vivid memory.
Only 30 people are allowed into St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle due to Covid-19 restrictions – something that probably fits Philip who never wanted a big deal.
It is dwarfed by Diana, Princess of Wales, who had 2,000 visitors to Westminster Abbey and more than a million people lining the Path of Corteges.
Previously, in their memories, the public had placed huge flower banks in front of the gates of royal palaces.
Just a few years later, in the three days she was in the Palace of Westminster in the state, an estimated 200,000 people would pass the Queen Mother’s coffin.
The funeral itself drew 2,200 guests and the tenor bell at Westminster Abbey rang 101 times – one for each year of her life – before the ceremony began.
In contrast, for Philip there will be no lie – according to his wishes.
Senior aides within the monarchy spend years preparing for royal funerals, usually with the involvement of the royal themselves to make sure everything goes smoothly when the day comes.
But Diana’s sudden death in 1997 – just a year after her divorce from Prince Charles – took her by surprise and prompted officials to adapt the existing template for the Queen Mother’s funeral.
Operation Tay Bridge, the code name of the plan, had been rehearsed for 22 years at the time of Diana’s death.
She would outlive her ex-mother-in-law by almost five years.
Many elements of Operation Forth Bridge, the code name for the Duke’s funeral, had to be scaled back or cut entirely.
Longstanding arrangements for military processions through London and Windsor were abolished. Instead, the event will take place entirely in the grounds of Windsor Castle.
Around 800 people were expected to attend the service – something that is currently illegal under Covid-19 regulations.
The surprise may have tickled the Duke, who, according to The Times, took “ironic amusement” from the fact that so many of the people who helped plan his funeral had died years earlier.
Diana’s coffin was famously placed on a Royal Standard draped gun cart with three wreaths of white flowers.
Heartbreaking images of their young sons after death on the final stretch to Westminster Abbey have been broadcast to 32 million people in the UK and an estimated 2.5 billion worldwide.
The Queen Mother’s coffin made the short journey from the Palace of Westminster to Westminster Abbey in an open carriage that was up to her personal standard.
A wreath of flowers and her crown were placed on it.
In contrast, the Duke’s body is transported from the private chapel at Windsor Castle to St. George’s Chapel in a specially modified Land Rover that he helped design.
On Saturday afternoon, the coffin is first brought in a small procession from the private chapel to the state entrance of Windsor Castle.
It will be covered with Philip’s personal standard and a wreath of flowers.
At 2:45 p.m. the coffin begins the procession from the state entrance to the St. George’s Chapel.
The Prince of Wales and other high-ranking kings will take part in the procession on foot along with members of Philip’s household.
The square of the castle is lined with representatives of the Royal Navy, Royal Marines, Highlanders, 4th Battalion Royal Regiment of Scotland and the Royal Air Force.
However, only close relatives will enter the chapel, but the service will be broadcast to the nation and will begin at 3 p.m. with a minute’s silence.
The public was asked not to plant flowers at Buckingham Palace or Windsor Castle and instead make a donation to a Duke’s charity.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced that he will be absent to allow as many family members as possible to attend.
Despite its small size, the event will still be a “ceremonial royal funeral” – a status commensurate with that bestowed on both Diana and the Queen Mother.
State funerals are generally reserved for monarchs, although Sir Winston Churchill and Lord Nelson are among the select few who have also been honored.
For the past 20 years, only Princess Margaret’s funeral has been smaller.
The princess, who died just seven weeks before her mother, requested a private funeral for family and friends at St. George’s Chapel.
Her coffin was transported on a hearse draped in the Royal Standard with the procession of two bagpipers.