The Queen’s husband, Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark, Duke of Edinburgh has died. The code message “Forth Bridge is down” was flashed to British embassies and High Commissions around the world. His standing quip when he was opening new facilities was “I’m the world’s most experienced plaque unveiler”.
The Prince spent much of his youth as an impoverised member of European royality. His mother spent much time dealing with depression and eventually became an Orthodox nun. Philip has a distinguished naval career during WWII. After a long romance, Philip and Princess “Lillybet” married in 1947. They spent a couple of years in Malta with Philip still serving in the Royal Navy. In 1952 while on safari during a visit to Kenya, Philip had to break the news of her father’s death to the Queen. His death was announced in a very modern manner.
Planning for the event of his death had obviously been made.
The Forth Bridge plans have been in place for many years, and were updated and reviewed regularly by Buckingham Palace staff in consultation with both the Queen and Philip.
The first part of the plan was an announcement was made by Buckingham Palace, which was first given to the Press Association and the BBC.
If protocol is followed, the Lord Chamberlain will have consulted with the Prime Minister, and then seek the Queen’s specific wishes regarding the death announcement.
This means a series of rules must be followed, such as all flags being lowered to half-mast in honour of the Duke.
It is also thought that newsreaders must wear black, alongside any other presenters who are on the television, out of respect for the loss.
Plans will then be made for Prince Philip’s funeral – which will likely be impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.
The duke is entitled to a state funeral, however, it has previously been reported that he asked for little fuss and would prefer a discreet send off.
In usual times, thousands of people would have been expected to flock to London and Windsor, with some even camping out overnight, for a military procession of Philip’s coffin on the day of his funeral.
It is usual for such a formal announcement to be posted on the gates of Buckingham Palace although recently this has been on an easel in the grounds. This time it has been removed after a couple of hours to prevent crowds gathering during the pandemic. It is perhaps a fitting legacy that many young people undertaking his “Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Scheme” are doing the social vounteer element by helping during the pandemic, including assisting people into the vaccination centres.
The College of Arms has announced that Philip will not have a State Funeral. He will “lie in rest” at Windsor Castle and the Funeral Service will be held in St George’s Chapel within its walls. I presume he will be interred in the royal vaults there.