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Prince Philip's funeral was watched by 2m more UK viewers than Harry and Meghan's Oprah interview

Victoria Ward
·3-min read
The viewing figures for Saturday’s deeply moving funeral service suggest there remains huge public appetite for the pomp and pageantry of set-piece royal events - Samir Hussein/WireImage
The viewing figures for Saturday’s deeply moving funeral service suggest there remains huge public appetite for the pomp and pageantry of set-piece royal events - Samir Hussein/WireImage

The Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral attracted more viewers than the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s Oprah Winfrey interview, it has emerged.

The one-hour service, broadcast live between 3pm and 4pm on Saturday, was watched by 11 million people on the BBC, 2.1 million on ITV, and around 450,000 on Sky.

By comparison, the Sussexes’ Oprah Winfrey interview, shown in the UK on ITV on March 8, was watched by a peak audience of 12.4 million.

The viewing figures for Saturday’s deeply moving funeral service suggest there remains huge public appetite for the pomp and pageantry of set-piece royal events.

The royals have been seen out in public very rarely over the last year, with key events in the social calendar all cancelled because of coronavirus restrictions.

The audience figures also indicates the level of affection and public regard held for the Duke, who had been a constant fixture in the lives of several generations.

Many thousands who might have travelled to London and Windsor to line the streets and watch the procession in normal times, were forced to watch from afar as Buckingham Palace urged people to stay at home.

The BBC devoted almost four hours to the funeral, led by veteran broadcaster Huw Edwards.

Viewing peaked just after 3pm, as the ceremony started, with 11.3 million people tuning in, the BBC said.

The coverage, which drew an average of 6.6 million viewers, began at 12.30pm as Edwards was joined by guests including Sir David Attenborough, Gyles Brandreth and Alan Titchmarsh to share memories of the late Duke, who died on April 9 at the age of 99.

Edwards concluded the coverage at 4.15pm, reflecting on a "deeply moving service," including "a very dignified and sharp and stylish military procession which symbolised all that was vital and salient in the long life of Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh".

He added: "He now rests in peace in the royal vault beneath St George's Chapel, having fought the good fight, having finished the race, and having kept the faith."

Ahead of the event, Edwards wrote in the Spectator: "In four hours of live broadcasting, watched by an audience of millions, the focus is on accuracy and tone.

"Most of the people doling out advice online have - predictably - never been entrusted with such a duty. But thanks anyway."

The corporation received 110,000 complaints about its coverage of the Duke’s death after it cleared its schedules and put mirrored coverage on BBC One, BBC Two and the news channel.

The complaints were the highest ever published in the UK about television programming and made coverage of his death the most complained-about piece of programming in BBC history.

ITV committed just over three hours to the funeral, anchored by Tom Bradby and Julie Etchingham and featuring guests including Philip's goddaughter India Hicks.

Channel 4 showed episodes of reality show Four In A Bed, while Channel 5 aired the film A Knight's Tale starring Heath Ledger.