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Prince Philip's funeral will be different than other royal funerals due to pandemic

Here's what to know about the funeral plans and ceremonies surrounding the death of the Duke of Edinburgh and how they will be affected by the pandemic.
/ Source: TODAY

The coronavirus pandemic has changed the usual royal protocol for the funeral of Prince Philip, who died at the age of 99 on Friday. Regardless, the husband of Queen Elizabeth II and the longest-serving consort in British history will have a funeral.

A ceremonial funeral will take place next Saturday in St. George's Chapel at Windsor Castle, a spokesman for Buckingham Palace said Saturday.

"While this is naturally a time of sadness and mourning for the royal family and the many others who knew or admired the Duke of Edinburgh, it is hoped that the coming days will also be seen as an opportunity to celebrate a remarkable life — remarkable both in terms of his vast contribution and lasting legacy," he said.

Here is everything we know about what is happening next for the late Duke of Edinburgh.

Will Prince Philip have a ceremonial funeral?

Yes, he will. According to a release from Buckingham Palace, the funeral of His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh will take place at St. George’s Chapel, Windsor on Saturday, April 17, 2021 at 3:00 BST. The service will be preceded by a ceremonial procession inside the grounds of Windsor Castle.

"The Funeral Service will be attended by Her Majesty the Queen and Members of the Royal Family," the statement continued. "The coffin, carried by a Bearer Party found by the Royal Marines, will be received at the top of the West Steps of St George’s Chapel by the Dean of Windsor and the Archbishop of Canterbury. The Duke of Edinburgh’s Naval Cap and Sword will be placed on the coffin ahead of the service and His Royal Highness’s Insignia will be laid on the Altar of the Chapel."

Another interesting detail: When Philip's coffin is transported from Windsor Castle to St. George's Chapel, it will be carried in a Land Rover designed by Prince Philip himself.

"His Royal Highness’s coffin will be carried in a purpose-built Land Rover - which The Duke was involved in the design of - flanked by military pall bearers, in a small ceremonial procession from the State Entrance to St. George’s Chapel, for the funeral service," Buckingham Palace announced last week.

The funeral will be after the queen's official eight-day period of mourning when the affairs of state will be halted and any laws awaiting the queen's assent are put on hold. The queen is not expected to return to her public duties until the end of a 30-day mourning period. She has officially requested that the royal family observe two weeks of royal mourning, starting Friday. However, the queen did return to work on Tuesday at Windsor Castle as she prepares for the funeral.

How will the pandemic affect ceremonies?

The pandemic will prevent the usual large public gathering that typically comes after the death of a senior member of the royal family.

There are usually thousands of people and hundreds of police officers and armed forces lining the streets of London to watch the coffin go by for someone of Philip's stature. In 2002, there were an estimated 200,000 mourners who paid their respects to the Queen Mother Elizabeth while she was lying in state.

However, the public has been asked not to attend or participate in any events involving Philip's funeral to avoid mass gatherings during the pandemic. "Those wishing to express their condolences are asked to do so in the safest way possible, and not to gather at Royal Residences," directed a statement released by Buckingham Palace Friday.

The statement also added, "During this time the Royal Family ask that members of the public consider making a donation to a charity instead of leaving floral tributes in memory of The Duke of Edinburgh. An online Book of Condolence for those who wish to leave messages is available on the Royal website."

Britain is only allowing 30 mourners at in-person funerals right now because of the pandemic, which means Elizabeth had to narrow down who will attend. The list of attendees of Prince Philip's funeral includes his children and grandchildren, close friends and some of his German family. The COVID-19 protocols also mean the usual gathering of world leaders and foreign dignitaries for the funeral will not be possible.

Where will Philip be buried?

Philip will be interred in the royal vault in St. George’s Chapel, but he will be moved after the queen's death, according to U.K. paper The Times.

At that time, they will be interred alongside each other in King George VI memorial chapel, which was added to the north side of St. George's Chapel in 1969. Queen Elizabeth's parents and her sister, Princess Margaret, are also buried in King George VI memorial chapel.

What other official protocols are triggered by Philip's death?

All official flags, including the Union Jack on top of Buckingham Palace, are being flown at half-mast until the day after Philip's funeral, except for the Royal Standard flag, which is never lowered when the queen is in residence.

All non-official flags are asked to be taken down and replaced with a Union Flag at half-mast.

Philip is not part of the line of succession, so there are no changes in that regard. Prince Charles, 72, the oldest of Philip and Elizabeth's four children, remains next in line to the throne behind the queen.

Charles will now inherit the Duke of Edinburgh title that his father was granted in 1947 after his marriage to the queen.

Will Prince Harry attend the funeral?

Prince Harry will be attending his grandfather’s funeral and will be following COVID-19 protocols for travel to and from the United Kingdom as well as during his time in the country, TODAY can confirm.

The former Meghan Markle, who is currently pregnant with the couple's second child. will not be traveling, as she did not receive medical clearance from her doctor.