One point of contrast will be the royal outfits. In the past, members of the Royal Family have worn military uniforms at funerals. This time around, it is thought that the Queen has asked for all the royal attendants to dress in civilian clothing, due to debate around the attire of Princes Harry and Andrew. The former is not technically eligible to wear uniform, after losing his honorary military titles when he stepped down as a working royal earlier this year. And the latter was reportedly keen to attend dressed in an Admiral’s uniform, even though he has not yet attained that rank.
However, there will one point of dress that will unite all guests – and mark a departure from previous funerals: face masks. In accordance with the current Government guidelines, funeral attendees will wear one throughout the service.
Clothes aren’t the only difference from past royal funerals. Due to coronavirus restrictions, only 30 mourners are expected to attend on Saturday, and they will have to follow social distancing guidelines, which means that the Queen will sit alone. Unlike previous funerals, there will be no public procession, or public access, and the funeral will take place entirely in the grounds of Windsor Castle. However, senior members of the Royal family will follow the coffin on foot as it is driven to St George’s Chapel in a modified Land Rover.
It all means that visually, Prince Philip’s funeral promises to look like no other royal funeral in memory, as these pictures attest…
The Queen Mother, 9 April 2002
The Queen Mother passed away peacefully in her sleep on 30th March, with Queen Elizabeth at her bedside. Large crowds watched the coffin procession through the streets from St James’s Palace to Westminster Hall, where she lay in state for four days before the service at Westminster Abbey. She was laid to rest at St George’s chapel in Windsor.
As seen in the picture above, Prince Charles, Prince William, Princess Anne and Prince Andrew wore military uniform to her funeral. However, Prince Edward wore a long black coat as he didn’t hold an honorary rank. Prince Philip’s funeral will look very different, with all members of the royal family will be dressed in black clothes.
According to Dr Bob Morris, honorary Senior Research Associate at the Constitution Unit at University College London, the unostentatious attire would, in some ways, suit Prince Phil’s wishes: “He wanted a funeral which is as un-fussy as possible.” However, the Duke was a military man at heart, and Dr Morris points out that it is thought attendees will wear medals with their suits. “It is clear that they might choose to wear medals to these type of events. It is a sort-of salute to the Prince, who served in a war,” he adds.
Princess Margaret, Countess of Snowdon, 15 February 2002
Princess Margaret passed away in her sleep from cardiac complications related to a stroke. A state memorial took place at St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle for family and friends on 15 February, and a state service at Westminster Abbey in April.
Like Prince Philip’s funeral, Princess Margret’s was not a state occasion, and was very intimate – although admittedly not as small as Philip’s will be. The funeral was attended by 450 mourners including the Queen and observed from a distance by a members of the public. Her body was then driven eight miles to Slough, for the cremation.
As seen in the picture above, the Royal family wore their traditional mourning clothes.
Princess Diana, 6 September 1997
Princess Diana’s death shocked the nation, provoking an outpouring of public grief. A young Harry and William walked behind the coffin in the royal procession, accompanied by Prince Charles and Prince Philip – who reportedly told his grandsons, “I’ll walk if you walk.”
It has been confirmed that, as in the picture below, Prince Harry and Prince William won’t walk side by side at Philip’s funeral – perhaps because of the apparent tensions between them.
If it weren’t for social-distancing measures, thousands would have expected to flock to London and Windsor for a military procession of Philip’s coffin. The procession would have been attended by hundreds of members of the armed forces to honour the duke, along with hundreds of police officers to keep control of crowds and protect the members of the royal family.
This was seen at Diana’s funeral, as in the picture below, where hoards of people lined the street to watch the funeral procession.
Two thousand people attended the ceremony in Westminster Abbey while the British television audience peaked at 32.10 million. Since it was a Royal Ceremonial Funeral, rather than a state occasion, Diana’s coffin was pulled by a horse drawn carriage
Edward VIII, 5 June 1972
Edward VIII passed away from throat cancer in France. His casket was flown to the UK, where he lay in state for three days. A private funeral service was then held at St George’s chapel.
“In the picture above, the Duchess is wearing a veil; they were worn for George VI. The Queen seems to have a veil, pushed back over her head,” says Dr Morris, who notes that Prince Philip isn’t wearing medals to the ceremony. However, one obvious point of difference with Philip’s funeral will be the close proximity of the guests; in the picture, the Queen is seen offering a word of comfort to a grieving Wallis Simpson.
At Philip’s funeral she will have to sit alone, as she does not live with anyone attending the funeral.
King George VI, 15 February 1952
King George VI’s funeral was held at St George’s Chapel, Windsor, where he lies buried. He passed away from a coronary thrombosis at age 56.
George VI’s funeral began with a formal procession to Paddington Station, as seen in the picture above. The coffin was carried on a gun carriage hauled by Royal Navy seaman. The procession was accompanied by Elizabeth II, George VI’s wife Queen Elizabeth, Princess Margaret who were shrouded in black, and four royal dukes. The coffin was then loaded onto a train for the journey to St George’s chapel in Windsor Castle.
Unlike George VI’s funeral, Prince Philip’s procession will be short walk from Windsor Castle to St George’s Chapel. His coffin will be placed in a specially adapted Land Rover hearse and withdraw, to honour the Duke’s lifelong love of the car.
King George V, 28 January 1936
George V died on 20th January, at Sandringham. His funeral took place at St. George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle following the Lying-in-State in London.
“They aren’t wearing medals in the picture below – possibly because they don’t have many medals to show. It is possible that medals weren’t worn on civilian dressing in those days, and it was a supposedly new convention,” says Dr Morris.