By Spy Uganda Correspondent
Britain’s Prince Charles offered a heartfelt tribute to his “dear Papa,” on Saturday as Buckingham Palace offered the broad outlines of a royal funeral that will be attended by the family and broadcast to the world.
As Queen Elizabeth II and other relatives mourned, Charles offered a deeply personal video message saying the royal family was “deeply grateful” for the outpouring of support they’ve received following the death Friday of his 99-year-old father, Prince Philip. The heir to the throne said he was touched by the number of people around the world who have shared his family’s loss and sorrow.
“My dear Papa was a very special person…”
Prince Charles made a short statement outside Highgrove House this afternoon to mark the passing of his father, the Duke of Edinburgh. pic.twitter.com/fDSpYdGV3M
— The Royal Family Channel (@RoyalFamilyITNP) April 10, 2021
“My dear Papa was a very special person who I think, above all else, would have been amazed by the reaction and the touching things that have been said about him,” Charles said, speaking from his southwestern England home of Highgrove. “And from that point of view, we are, my family, deeply grateful for all that. It will sustain us in this particular loss and at this particularly sad time.”
Philip’s royal ceremonial funeral will take place April 17 at Windsor Castle — a slimmed-down service amid the COVID-19 pandemic that will be entirely closed to the public. The palace insisted the royals would strictly adhere to national virus guidelines, measures that in theory would entail mask-wearing in an enclosed space and social distancing. The palace declined to comment on specifics.
Philip, the queen’s husband of 73 years who was also known as the Duke of Edinburgh, took part in planning his own funeral and its focus on family was in accordance with his wishes. The duke also took part in designing the modified Land Rover that will carry his coffin.
“Although the ceremonial arrangements are reduced, the occasion will still celebrate and recognize the duke’s life and his more than 70 years of service to the Queen, the UK, and the Commonwealth,” a palace spokesman said Saturday while speaking on condition of anonymity in line with policy.
Prince Harry, Philip’s grandson who stepped away from royal duties last year and now lives in California, will attend the service at Windsor along with other members of the royal family. His wife Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, is pregnant and has been advised by her doctor not to make the long journey to the UK.
Another no-show will be Prime Minister Boris Johnson, whose office said he would not attend because current coronavirus restrictions limit funerals to 30 people, so by staying away that would “allow for as many family members as possible.”
The palace appealed to the public not to gather in Windsor or at Buckingham Palace in London to pay their respects to Philip — advice that was roundly disregarded by many.
Earlier Saturday, military teams across the UK and on ships at sea fired 41-gun salutes to mark Philip’s death, honoring the former naval officer whom they considered one of their own.
Batteries in London, Edinburgh, Cardiff, and Belfast — the capitals of the four nations that make up the United Kingdom — as well as other cities around the UK and the Mediterranean outpost of Gibraltar fired the volleys at one-minute intervals beginning at midday.
Ships including the HMS Montrose, a frigate patrolling the Persian Gulf, offered their own salutes.
“The Duke of Edinburgh served among us during the Second World War, and he remained devoted to the Royal Navy and the Armed Forces as a whole,” Gen. Nick Carter, chief of the defense staff, said in a statement. “A life well-lived. His Royal Highness leaves us with a legacy of indomitable spirit, steadfastness, and an unshakeable sense of duty.”
Members of the Commonwealth, a group of 54 countries headed by the queen, were also invited to honor Philip. The Australian Defense Force began its salute at 5 p.m. outside Parliament House in Canberra, and New Zealand planned to offer its own tribute on Sunday.