Great Britain

Senior members of Royal Family rally around Queen as she adjusts to life without Philip

Prince Philip funeral: Queen appears to wipe away a tear

Family visits are back after the easing of lockdown and leading Royals will join her on public events more often. News of the support comes as mourning for the Duke continues until Thursday, the day after the Queen turns 95. She drove out  of Windsor Castle yesterday, apparently to take her beloved corgis for a walk around the grounds of nearby Frogmore Cottage. The trip would also have offered the monarch the chance to meet Prince Harry, who is staying there.

It has been suggested he might delay his return to his pregnant wife Meghan in the US so that he could help his grandmother mark her birthday on Wednesday.

The Queen had always planned for a quiet celebration, following the Duke of Edinburgh’s lengthy hospital stay, but even that is likely to be more muted still following his funeral on Saturday.

Prince Andrew underlined recently that the Royal Family would come together to help his mother after the death of her 99-year-old husband.

He said last week: “The Queen, as you would expect, is an incredibly stoic person. She described [the Duke’s passing] as having left a huge void in her life but we, the family, the ones that are close, are rallying round to make sure that we’re there to support her.”

Although she will continue with some solo public appearances, senior family members will step up the number of engagements at which they appear alongside her, sources close to the monarch predicted.

Queen Elizabeth II

Family members have rallied around the Queen as she adjusts to life without Philip (Image: Getty )

Many official royal events have been cancelled until the mourning period is over, although some will continue if deemed appropriate.

The Queen has another family celebration to look forward to when the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge mark the third birthday of their son Prince Louis on Friday.

Around 11 million people in Britain watched the Duke’s funeral on the BBC on Saturday, with 2.1 million seeing it on ITV and 450,000 following the ceremony on Sky.

A service that originally had been planned to accommodate 800 to 1,000 guests had to be slimmed to just 30 mourners because of Covid restrictions. Many of the Duke’s near-800 charities and other patronages were unable to be represented.

Buckingham Palace staff last night faced calls to organise a national memorial service, to allow wider recognition of the huge contribution made to national life by Prince Philip, who died on April 9.

The Queen

The Queen was seen driving out of Windsor Castle yesterday (Image: Jim Bennett / Kelvin Bruce)

It is understood royal aides have not yet had time to consider the idea.

A national service of thanksgiving for his life might be held later in the year at Westminster Abbey or St Paul’s Cathedral when coronavirus restrictions have been lifted.

Sir Mike Penning, the Conservative MP for Hemel Hempstead and a former Armed Forces minister, told the Daily Express: “A public service to celebrate the remarkable life of HRH Prince Philip would be the perfect way to allow the nation to thank one of our most-cherished public servants.

“The Duke of Edinburgh selflessly devoted his life to his Queen and country for more than seven decades.

“He inspired millions of young people through his Duke of Edinburgh’s Award scheme and represented the best of British values and spirit.”

Fellow Tory MP Andrew Bridgen said: “The public were excluded from attending Prince Philip’s funeral. However, when we are out of lockdown and social distancing is no longer required, the public should be able to give thanks at a remembrance service for...a life well lived and well loved in service of our nation.”

Duke's funeral

Around 11 million people in Britain watched the Duke's funeral on the BBC on Saturday (Image: WPA Pool)

Veteran royal watcher Joe Little, managing editor of Majesty magazine, pointed out that national thanksgiving services were held at Westminster Abbey for both Princess Margaret in 2002 and Princess Alexandra’s husband Sir Angus Ogilvy in 2005 after their funerals at St George’s Chapel, which were very small-scale by normal royal standards.

But there was no similar thanksgiving service for the Queen Mother in 2002 after her large ceremonial royal funeral at the Abbey. Mr Little said it was often a matter of personal choice and Philip’s wishes were not clear.

He thought that it was a good idea, given that the Duke had originally planned for a much bigger funeral.

“The autumn surely has to be the earliest that they can think of doing that,” he said.

There is also the question of whether the Royal Collection Trust might consider using an exhibition on Prince Philip’s life as the centrepiece for a summer opening of Buckingham Palace – although next year is unlikely because it is the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee. Some of the best works from his art collection could also go on display at the Queen’s Gallery, next to Buckingham Palace.

The Duke

The Duke's funeral at Windsor was the perfect farewell for an extraordinary public servant (Image: WPA Pool)

Comment by Leo McKinstry

PRINCE Philip’s funeral at Windsor was the perfect farewell for an extraordinary public servant and the greatest consort in British history.

But for all its moving resonance and global audience on television, it was essentially a family affair, mainly because of Covid restrictions.

While the congregation was limited to just 30, all but one of them close relatives, the public was asked to stay away. Nor were any charity chiefs, military leaders or foreign representatives allowed to attend – something that may have enhanced the simple grandeur of the ceremony, but was unusual for a figure who played such a prominent role in our national life for so long.

So there is a powerful case for a more public event later in the year to commemorate the enormous contribution he made to Britain, and the world. The ideal vehicle would be a memorial service, which, through a far larger congregation and a more worldly format, would give the nation the chance to express its gratitude.

Such a thanksgiving could be held at Westminster Abbey or St Paul’s, both venues having played a part in our national history stretching back to the 11th century. Able to accommodate 3,500 people, St Paul’s has the larger capacity than Westminster Abbey, which can only hold 2,000.

The ideal time would be the autumn, when the raw grief of the Royal Family may have lessened through the passage of time. By then, the pandemic should be over, with the result that social distancing rules and bans on congregational singing will have been lifted.

Apart from a justified acknowledgement of our debt to the Prince, the great benefit of a thanksgiving service is that it would raise the profile of the many charities and organisations with which he was connected.

During his life as consort, there were around no fewer than 900 such bodies, covering a wide range of fields that often reflected his own interests in engineering, science, conservation, sport, the environment, religion and history. 

Only 30 close relatives of the Duke

Only 30 close relatives of the Duke were able to join the congregation (Image: Yui Mok)

With the vast media attention that a thanksgiving event is bound to attract, this would be a unique opportunity for fundraising.

Such a memorial would undoubtedly be in line with the wishes of the British public, whose overwhelming affection for him has been obvious in recent days.

He is certainly a more deserving, distinguished figure than some who have received high recognition in the past, like the bitterly controversial Ulster Unionist leader Sir Edward Carson who, absurdly, was given a state funeral in 1935.

Philip, a man without any vanity, would probably loathe the fuss of such a service, but, as he once said: “Who cares what I think.”

In any case, he would be pleased at how his name could boost a number of good causes. Duty always came first with him.

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