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Family affair for the duke’s funeral service

Laura Elston, PA Court Reporter
·4-min read

The Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral will be family affair attended by close relatives, with the guest list limited to just 30 because of coronavirus restrictions.

The Queen and Philip’s children and grandchildren will gather to pay their respects to the much loved royal patriarch, who died on Friday at the age of 99.

The royal family
The royal family (Victoria Jones/PA)

Prime Minister Boris Johnson will not be present to allow for as many family members as possible to be there amid the Covid-19 rules, Downing Street said.

The duke’s long-standing close aide, his private secretary Brigadier Archie Miller Bakewell, will be one of the few, and possibly only, non-royals invited to attend the historic occasion inside St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle on Saturday.

Brigadier Miller Bakewell had been the duke’s right hand man for 11 years, taking on the role in 2010.

It will be a royal funeral like no other, with the Queen and her family wearing face masks and socially distancing as they gather to say their final farewell.

The Queen had the difficult task of deciding who should attend the service in honour of her husband of 73 years.

It was originally planned long ago for 800 guests, but had to take into account the strict limit on numbers during the pandemic.

The Queen’s four children and their spouses – the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall, the Princess Royal and Vice Admiral Sir Timothy Laurence, the Duke of York, and the Earl and Countess of Wessex – will be present.

Royal wedding
The royal family in St George’s Chapel ahead of Harry and Meghan’s wedding (Jonathan Brady/PA)

The Queen and Philip also had eight grandchildren: Peter Phillips, Zara Tindall, the Duke of Cambridge, the Duke of Sussex, Princess Beatrice, Princess Eugenie, Lady Louise Windsor and Viscount Severn.

The Duchess of Cambridge, as a future queen, will also be expected to attend.

The grandchildren’s other spouses – Mike Tindall, Jack Brooksbank and Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi – may attend to support their wives, but, the Queen might, given they are not senior royals, decide to include other relatives or members of the household instead.

While Harry will make the journey back from the US, the Duchess of Sussex, who is pregnant with her second child, will not.

She will remain in California after she was not given medical clearance by her doctor to travel.

Meghan is due to give birth in the summer and previously suffered a miscarriage.

RAF centenary
Harry will attend the funeral, but Meghan will not (Steve Parsons/PA)

The decision comes in the wake of the bombshell Oprah Winfrey interview in which the Sussexes accused the royal family of racism, and removes the potentially difficult prospect of Meghan appearing in public with the Windsors.

It will also be the first time Harry has appeared with his family since he quit as a senior working royal last year.

The duke is understood to be following Covid-19 protocols for travel to and from the UK, as well as during his time in the country.

It will also be the first time the Duke of York has attended a televised official royal event since he stepped down from royal duties over his friendship with convicted paedophile Jeffrey Epstein.

The Queen is also likely to invite her cousins and their spouses: Princess Alexandra, the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester, the Duke and Duchess of Kent and Prince and Princess Michael of Kent, who have offered loyal support and service over the years.

Queen attends church service
The Queen with her niece Lady Sarah Chatto (Andrew Milligan/PA)

And the Queen is close to the children of her late sister Princess Margaret – her nephew the Earl of Snowdon and niece Lady Sarah Chatto – and is likely to want them to be present as a source of comfort.

The Queen and Philip’s 10 great-grandchildren – Savannah and Isla Phillips; Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis of Cambridge; Mia, Lena and Lucas Tindall; Archie Mountbatten-Windsor; and August Brooksbank – will be considered too young to attend the televised proceedings as all are aged 10 and under.

The 30 limit rule does not include clergy, and the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Dean of Windsor will preside over the service.