United Kingdom

Crowds heading to Prince Philip's funeral are far smaller than Harry and Meghan's wedding

Crowds heading to Prince Philip's funeral at Windsor Castle are far smaller today than at Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's wedding three years ago after well-wishers were urged to stay away.

The number of people gathered in the town to say farewell to the Duke of Edinburgh, 99, ahead of the event appeared notably lower than the amount seen in previous royal events due to coronavirus restrictions. 

Pictures show mourners tightly controlled by armed police with a steady stream of tourists, shoppers and dog-walkers along the high street, contrasting to the densely packed crowds at Harry and Meghan's wedding in 2018.

Dozens of officers made preparations on the high street and swept areas along the Long Walk up to Cambridge Gate. Road signs in the area warned: 'Avoid all non-essential travel and do not gather at royal residences'.

The early afternoon sunshine did lead to a gradual increase in people arriving to pay their respects to Prince Philip however, with a few members of the public walking around with flowers in their hands while others could be seen wearing custom face masks bearing the duke's face.

Britons have also paid their own personal respects from their homes, gardens and pubs, taking to social media to share photos of their English breakfasts, bunting and glasses of bubbly as they gathered in front of TVs.

Residents and royal supporters said the country was 'missing out' on fully commemorating Philip's death but praised the royal family for 'setting an example' by limiting numbers during the ongoing pandemic.  

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle ride in an Ascot Landau along the Long Walk after their wedding ceremony at Windsor Castle in May 2018
Members of the King's Troop Horse Artillery ride up the Long Walk today

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Prince Harry and Meghan Markle ride in an Ascot Landau along the Long Walk after their wedding ceremony at Windsor Castle in May 2018 (left) and members of the King's Troop Horse Artillery ride up the Long Walk today (right)

Windsor Castle guards from the 1st Battalion Irish Guards play for the crowd ahead of the royal wedding ceremony three years ago
Armed police officers patrol outside Windsor Castle on the day of Prince Philip's funeral

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Windsor Castle guards from the 1st Battalion Irish Guards play for the crowd ahead of the royal wedding ceremony three years ago (left) and armed police officers patrol outside Windsor Castle on the day of Prince Philip's funeral (right)

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex set off in the Ascot Landau Carriage after their wedding ceremony in 2018
Floral tributes are laid out in the grounds ahead of Prince Philip's funeral on Saturday, April 17

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The Duke and Duchess of Sussex set off in the Ascot Landau Carriage after their wedding ceremony in 2018 (left) and floral tributes are laid out in the grounds ahead of Prince Philip's funeral on Saturday, April 17 (right)

Prince Harry and Meghan ride in an Ascot Landau during the procession after their wedding at Windsor Castle
Police monitor the traffic on the day of Prince Philip's funeral in Windsor today

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Prince Harry and Meghan ride in an Ascot Landau during the procession after their wedding at Windsor Castle (left) and police monitor the traffic on the day of Prince Philip's funeral in Windsor today (right)

Jack Carson, 34, who left bunch of flowers said: 'I'm going to watch the funeral service from home but I thought it would be nice to come down this morning to lay some flowers down. 

'Philip was a fantastic public servant and will be missed by the people in this town.' 

Another resident, Ian Mawhinney, 56, said that it had been a 'sombre few weeks' in the town but that the royal family were 'setting an example' by limiting numbers at the event. 

He said: 'I think it's really important to mark the event. 'It's been a very sombre time for the town. Living in Windsor you realise how much they do for the community and the country. 

'You sense the loss more here. It's been a very sombre few weeks. I'm quite torn about the measures... I think the country is missing out on something. 

'I think the royal family are setting an example. Having a small event is not what they would have wanted but they will adapt and honour (Philip) in their own way.'

A royal supporter also spoke of his dismay on crowds being unable to gather at Windsor Castle for the Duke of Edinburgh's funeral.

He added: 'People have been asked not to come, so I think it will be a quiet atmosphere, I just feel so sad.' 

Police guard the Long Walk in Windsor on Saturday. Residents said the country was 'missing out' on fully commemorating Philip's death but praised the royal family for 'setting an example' by limiting numbers during the ongoing pandemic

People gather outside the entrance to Windsor Castle. The early afternoon sunshine did lead to a gradual increase in people arriving to pay their respects to Prince Philip

The media are pictured outside Windsor Castle today. The number of people gathered in the town ahead of the event appeared notably lower than the amount seen in previous royal events due to coronavirus restrictions

Despite the restrictions, hundreds of people were seen at midday watching as the King's Troop Royal Horse Artillery processed along the Long Walk up to Windsor Castle. 

Preceded by a bugle call, the King's Troop Royal Horse Artillery went in procession up the Long Walk in a quiet atmosphere, led by a woman officer and followed by a horse ambulance.

There was a large police presence with a conspicuous show of armed officers alongside others helping to organise an orderly flow of people around the castle.

The public was kept away from the main gates of the castle, with areas of the castle clearly fenced off from public view. In addition to the large police guard, hundreds of Royal Funeral Marshalls were deployed around the castle to help keep the public in check.

Military personnel in parade dress uniform march past flowers which were placed on the grass for Prince Philip's funeral inside Windsor Castle on Saturday, April 17

The Foot Guards Band are seen marching ahead of the funeral of the Duke of Edinburgh at Windsor Castle in Berkshire today

The Foot Guards Band pictured ahead of the Duke of Edinburgh's funeral. Dozens of officers made preparations on the high street and swept areas along the Long Walk up to Cambridge Gate

Members of the Royal Air Force are seen arriving for Prince Philip's funeral in Windsor Castle, Berkshire, on Saturday

Members of the military arrive for the Duke of Edinburgh's funeral this afternoon. A strict one-way system was in place by the funeral officials who appeared keen for all mourners attending the funeral to comply with the Covid regulations still in place

A strict one-way system was in place by the funeral officials who appeared keen for all mourners attending the funeral to comply with the Covid regulations still in place.

There were also medical teams in place from the St John's Ambulance, to help assist any people who became injured or unwell.

Grieving people of all ages gathered around the castle, with a number of flowers being laid at the barriers lining the route. In addition, hundreds of the world's media gathered to record and commentate on the funeral of the 99-year-old Duke of Edinburgh.

The funeral procession is expected to begin from within Windsor Castle at 2.45pm before the start of the service in St. George's Chapel at 3pm.

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