With stringent COVID-19 restrictions mandated by the U.K. government, Prince Philip’s funeral will be a much smaller occasion than expected. Nevertheless, Prince Harry insisted on attending to honor his late grandfather. The ceremonial royal funeral will only have 30 people in attendance, but will be broadcast live at 3 p.m. U.K. time (10 a.m. ET) for a much larger audience.
Prince Harry has arrived back in the UK, marking his first time home in over a year. He flew the 5,400 miles on a British Airways flight from L.A. to Heathrow to attend his grandfather’s funeral, a decision he felt was important. Prince Philip, 99, passed away on Friday, and his wife, Queen Elizabeth, has entered a two-week mourning period.
Prince Harry entered into a mandated self-isolation at Frogmore Cottage for ten days, in preparation for the funeral this weekend. According to ABC, he will have to test for COVID-19 on day 2 and day 8. There are exceptions for mourners, and Harry will be allowed to exit isolation for the April 17 funeral.
The reunion between Harry and his loved ones comes only a month after the explosive Oprah interview, with tensions still running high. The interview was riddled with bombshell revelations. Prince Harry and his wife, Meghan Markle, alleged that one of the family members expressed concern during her first pregnancy about the color of the baby’s skin. The couple also told Oprah that Harry was cut off by his father, Prince Charles, who was at the time still ignoring his calls.
Despite the rocky waters, Harry felt it was important to attend the funeral and pay respects to Prince Philip. Meghan Markle, who is pregnant with her second child, was told by doctors to stay at home. Yet Harry is making sure that the world knows how much he loved his grandfather.
“He was authentically himself,” Harry said in a statement to the public, “with a seriously sharp wit, and could hold the attention of any room due to his charm — and also because you never knew what he might say next.”
“He will be remembered as the longest reigning consort to the Monarch,” Harry said in his statement, “a decorated serviceman, a Prince and a Duke. But to me, like many of you who have lost a loved one or grandparent over the pain of this past year, he was my grandpa: master of the barbecue, legend of banter, and cheeky right ’til the end.”
According to People, Philip’s coffin will be processed through Windsor Castle from the state entrance to the castle to the chapel. The entire funeral will take place on the castle grounds and Queen Elizabeth has given final approval to the plans. The funeral will “still very much reflect the personal wishes of the Duke.”
“He has been a rock for Her Majesty The Queen with unparalleled devotion,” Harry said. He was “by her side for 73 years of marriage, and while I could go on, I know that right now he would say to all of us, beer in hand, ‘Oh do get on with it!'”
The Sun reported that there are preliminary plans to erect a statue of Prince Philip on The Mall in central London. The statue would act as a tribute for Philip and recognize the Duke’s life and service to the U.K. and the Commonwealth. There has been overwhelming support for the statue since the news arrived of his death.
Prince Philip was instrumental in modernizing the monarchy and helped issue in a new era for the British crown. A Greek prince at the time, Philip married Elizabeth five years before her coronation, and since then, “helped created the model of the British royal family,” according to NBC News. That family, however, has entered a rough patch since ‘Megxit’ last year.
Harry’s father, Prince Charles, “will be very happy to see him,” a source told The Sun. Previously, Charles was not taking his son’s calls, and he was hurt by accusations of racism made by Harry and Meghan. Last week, though, the two of them shared a phone call, marking the first steps in reconciliation.
Despite all the drama with the royal family, Harry concluded: “So, on that note, Grandpa, thank you for your service, your dedication to Granny, and for always being yourself. You will be sorely missed, but always remembered — by the nation and the world. Meghan, Archie, and I (as well as your future great-granddaughter) will always hold a special place for you in our hearts.”
Prince William’s little brother then finished his statement with the words “Per Mare, Per Terram,” which means “By Sea, By Land,” the motto of the UK’s Royal Marines.