Queen Elizabeth II will make her first public appearance today after the death of her husband, Prince Philip, at age 99 on April 9 at his funeral.
Why is the queen sitting alone at Prince Philip's funeral?
While royal funerals are traditionally attended by thousands, the Duke of Edinburgh’s service, which he largely planned himself, will be a smaller affair, with only 30 close family members in attendance along with 730 members of the armed forces. With COVID-19 precautions and social distancing guidelines in place, these adjustments will leave the queen sitting alone in the chapel during the ceremony, wearing a mask, to say goodbye to her husband of 73 years.
“She’s the queen, she will behave with the extraordinary dignity and extraordinary courage that she always does,” Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, told TODAY. “And at the same time, she is saying farewell to someone to who she was married for 73 years.”
NBC News royal contributor, Daisy McAndrew, explained on Weekend TODAY that the sole reason behind the queen sitting alone is due to the country’s COVID guidelines.
“She will have to sit alone because as things stand in this country if you haven’t been in a bubble. which is a self-selecting group of people over the course of lockdown, you can’t come within six feet of them,” she told Kristen Welker and Peter Alexander. “So that’s the situation the queen will find herself in today. She’s been in sort of a bubble here at Windsor Castle with 22 members of the household and Prince Philip.”
Wilfred Frost, CNBC anchor and son of David Frost, pointed out Saturday morning that the queen's "bubble" was her husband prior to his death. He added her being alone at his funeral is quite poignant, saying, she will literally "have no shoulder to cry on."
In addition to the reduced number of attendees, the funeral ceremony will also not involve the typical long, public process in the streets of London because of Philip’s wishes and the royal family wanting to avoid large crowds from gathering in the midst of the pandemic.
Other family members who will be in attendance include Prince Harry and his older brother, Prince William, who will take part in the procession as they walk behind his coffin. Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge will also be in attendance, while Meghan, Duchess of Sussex will remain in California after not being given clearance to fly from her doctor due to her pregnancy. According to a statement from Archewell, the organization founded by Harry and the former Meghan Markle, she will be "watching from home as she was hopeful to be able to attend."
The queen and Philip’s oldest son, Prince Charles, Prince of Wales, will be in attendance alongside his wife, Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall. Prince Andrew, Duke of York will also be in attendance along with his daughters and their husbands, Princess Beatrice and Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi and Princess Eugenie and Jack Brooksbank.