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Amid Covid-19 restrictions, U.K PM Boris Johnson not attending Prince Philip's funeral

April 12, 2021 | 16:09

In a statement on Saturday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that he will not attend Prince Philip's funeral in order to allow as many members of the royal family as possible to be present due to restrictions of attenders to follow Covid-19's social distancing rules and safety.

U.K military gun salutes across the country to honor Prince Philip after his death U.K military gun salutes across the country to honor Prince Philip after his death
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“Only 30 people can attend the funeral of HRH The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh,” the statement said. “The prime minister has throughout wanted to act in accordance with what is best for the royal household, and so to allow for as many family members as possible will not be attending the funeral on Saturday.”, according to NBC News.

Although England is set to come out of its latest Covid-19 lockdown on Monday, there are still substantial restrictions on mass gatherings, including limitations to how many people can attend funerals and weddings.

A message of condolence on flowers left outside of Windsor Castle on Sunday.Chris Jackson / Getty Images Although England is set to c
A message of condolence on flowers left outside of Windsor Castle on Sunday.Chris Jackson / Getty Images Although England is set to c

Attendees will also have to respect social distancing guidelines and keep 6 feet apart from people outside their household, the rules state.

Prince Philip’s funeral will be a much more subdued affair than was originally planned due to, in large part, the pandemic restrictions, but also his own wishes.

The procession will begin at 2:45 p.m. (9:45 a.m. ET) and will be led from Windsor Castle by a band of grenadier guards, along with several heads of military units. A Royal Navy piping party will pipe "The Still" whilst the Land Rover is stationed at the foot of the West Steps. There will be a gun salute and a national minute's silence at 3 p.m. ahead of the ceremony, according to CNN.

The duke's death has been marked in a somber fashion, as the royal household and UK government have asked the public not to gather or leave flowers at royal residences, with the country still under strict Covid-19 restrictions.

UK and the world’s tribute for Prince Philip and the royal family

UK pay tribute for Prince Philip (Photo: CNN)
UK pay tribute for Prince Philip (Photo: CNN)

Tributes have flooded in from the UK and abroad for the duke, who had recently spent a month in two London hospitals, undergoing heart surgery and treatment for an infection, before returning in mid-March to Windsor Castle.

Paying tribute in a televised statement, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the duke had "earned the affection of generations here in the United Kingdom, across the Commonwealth, and around the world" and had lived by an ethic of service.

"Like the expert carriage driver that he was, he helped to steer the royal family and the monarchy so that it remains the institution indisputably vital to the balance of our national path. He was an environmentalist, and a champion of the natural world, long before it was fashionable," Johnson said.

A man put flowers outside London's Buckingham Palace (Photo: CNN)
A man put flowers outside London's Buckingham Palace (Photo: CNN)

But the duke was also a controversial figure. For many Britons, his defining characteristic was not his public service but his off-the-cuff and often offensive comments, including some that were undeniably racist.

The BBC said Friday it was receiving complaints about too much air time dedicated to the duke's death, after the public broadcaster canceled hours of its usual programming to make way for wall-to-wall coverage of Philip's life and death.

The BBC set up a dedicated feedback form within hours of the news from Buckingham Palace because of the high volume of complaints.

The special coverage had meant some of the UK's most-watched shows, including soap opera EastEnders and the final of cooking competition MasterChef, were taken off air.

But the nation is officially in eight days of mourning, as was announced on Friday, and there will be other tributes to the duke in public life.

A family put flowers outside Windsor Castle (Photo: CNN)
A family put flowers outside Windsor Castle (Photo: CNN)

Players in the English Premier League will wear black armbands, and "there will be a minute's silence before kick-off at all Premier League matches ... across the weekend," the organization has announced.

An online book of condolence was launched on the royal family's official website, as they joined the British government in asking that "members of the public consider making a donation to a charity instead of leaving floral tributes in memory of the Duke of Edinburgh."

The bells of London's Westminster Abbey, where Prince Philip married Queen Elizabeth more than 70 years ago, rang 99 times on Friday evening in his honor, while the British flag -- the Union Jack -- is flying at half-staff on government buildings.

Former Prime Minister Tony Blair said the "whole nation will be united in sadness at the passing of Prince Philip," adding he should be recognized "as a remarkable and steadfast support to the Queen over so many years" but also "celebrated in his own right as a man of foresight, determination and courage."

Photo: CNN
Photo: CNN

Australia's Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Philip "embodied a generation that we will never see again." Canada's Justin Trudeau said: "Prince Philip was a man of great purpose and conviction, who was motivated by a sense of duty to others. He will be fondly remembered as a constant in the life of our Queen."

US President Joe Biden said Philip had "gladly dedicated himself to the people of the UK, the Commonwealth, and to his family," and that his legacy would live on "not only through his family, but in all the charitable endeavors he shaped."

'Constant strength and guide'

People gather outside the gates of Buckingham Palace in London on Saturday. (Photo: CNN)
People gather outside the gates of Buckingham Palace in London on Saturday. (Photo: CNN)

Philip married the then-Princess Elizabeth in 1947, following distinguished service in the Royal Navy during World War II. Together, they had four children -- Charles, Anne, Andrew and Edward -- eight grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren.

When Elizabeth ascended the throne in February 1952, on the death of her father, George VI, Philip's lifetime of service as royal consort began.

Over the decades, Philip often accompanied the Queen on royal engagements, and conducted thousands of his own solo appearances. He once referred to himself as "the world's most experienced plaque unveiler," while the Queen lauded him as her "constant strength and guide."

Philip continued making public appearances well into his 90s, retiring only in August 2017.

He was seen in public only infrequently from that point, notably at the Windsor Castle wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle in May 2018, and at the nuptials for Princess Eugenie in October 2018 and for Princess Beatrice in July 2020.

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