The Duchess of York will not be going to Prince Philip’s funeral on Saturday despite giving the Queen support by accompanying her on daily walks at Windsor while she mourns the loss of her husband.
Sarah Ferguson, more commonly known as Fergie, and her ex-husband Prince Andrew have both been by the 94-year-old monarch’s side since the death of the Duke of Edinburgh last Friday.
Royal sources confirmed that they have been making the short drive from Royal Lodge to Windsor Castle, sometimes twice a day, to walk with Her Majesty and her new corgis.
However, the duchess has not been invited to Philip’s funeral at St George’s Chapel in Windsor. Though Fergie was not expecting to be among the 30 mourners attending the scaled-down service, she famously fell out with the Duke of Edinburgh after she was photographed having her toes sucked by her financial adviser in the south of France five months after splitting from Andrew.
Philip, who died just two months shy of his 100th birthday, had described the duchess as ‘odd’ and ‘pointless’, and would even ask for her to leave Balmoral, the royal estate in Scotland, during holidays before he arrived.
Despite splitting from Andrew in 1992 and then divorcing him in 1996, Fergie – the mother of Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie – has been living with the Duke of York for the past 13 years.
Royal watchers now believe that the Queen, who has a soft spot for her former daughter-in-law, could be more receptive to the idea of her and Andrew returning to a more prominent role within the Firm.
An insider told the Sun: ‘They have been going on short walks around the gardens with the Queen and her corgis. Sarah’s very much in the fold now that the Duke of Edinburgh has gone. The Queen has always had a soft spot for Sarah and regards her as an excellent mother.’
However, Andrew has been reportedly warned to forget plans to use his recent public appearances as a springboard back into royal duty after stepping down from duties following his ‘car crash’ Newsnight interview over his friendship interview with convicted paedophile financier Jeffrey Epstein.
The Duke of York has allegedly told friends he is sure he will be cleared of all sex scandal claims, and sees his return to the limelight as a way to prove to his family he can come back to the frontline.
It has also emerged that all senior members of the royal family will now wear mourning dress at the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral on Saturday, in an extraordinary about-turn that spares Prince Harry’s and Andrew’s blushes.
The Duke and Duchess of York leave the Windsor Castle estate
Sarah, Duchess of York, with the Queen at the Windsor Horse Show in 1988
The Queen with Prince Andrew and Sarah Duchess of York at the Royal Windsor Horse Show
The duchess has not been invited to Philip’s funeral at St George’s Chapel in Windsor
Prince Andrew leaving Windsor Castle yesterday, hours before it was reported that the Queen is being forced to decide which rank of military uniform the Duke of York can wear to his father’s funeral after he demanded to go as an Admiral
Harry, 36, is understood to have wanted to wear the Blues and Royals dress uniform he wore on his wedding day in May 2018
The Prince of Wales, Duke of Cambridge, Earl of Wessex and Princess Royal would have been, by convention for a royal ceremonial funeral, in full military uniform
The Queen joined by members of the Royal Family after Trooping the Colour at Buckingham Palace in June 2019, including the Prince William and Kate with their children, Prince Louis, Prince George and Princess Charlotte, Camilla, Prince Charles, Princess Anne, Prince Andrew, Prince Harry, Meghan Markle, Peter and Autumn Phillips and their children Savannah and Isla
Royals in military uniform: A brief history
Royal Family members with a military rank have worn uniforms at state occasions since the 19th century.
At the Queen Mother’s funeral in 2002, the last funeral of a royal consort, Prince Philip, Prince Charles, Prince Andrew and Princess Anne all wore uniforms.
Prince Edward, who quit the Royal Marines after four months’ service, wore a black morning coat, as did his nephews William and Harry, who had yet to serve in the Armed Forces. Anne had not served in the military but held the honorary rank of Rear Admiral.
By contrast, at the funeral of Princess Diana royals wore dark suits and not military dress. The funeral was considered a ceremonial event rather than a full state occasion.
In 1952, at the funeral of the Queen’s father King George VI, his brothers the Duke of Windsor and the Duke of Gloucester wore military dress alongside Prince Philip. The Queen and Queen Mother wore mourning clothes, including heavy black veils.
The three dukes also wore military dress for Queen Mary’s funeral in 1953.
Illustrations from Queen Victoria’s 1901 funeral show her sons Edward VII and the Duke of Connaught in military dress on horseback in her funeral procession.
A last minute decision approved by the Queen has been made that no royals will wear military uniform in order to present a united family front, media including the Mail are reporting.
Behind the scenes, courtiers have been racked by concern that Harry, who was forced to give up his honorary military titles after he acrimoniously quit royal duties and moved to the US with Meghan Markle, would be the only senior royal not in uniform.
The Duke of Sussex is understood to have wanted to wear the Blues and Royals dress uniform he wore on his wedding day in May 2018. As a former captain with the Household Cavalry, however, he is entitled only to wear a suit, with any medals he has been awarded in the course of his duties or by the Queen.
By contrast the Prince of Wales, Duke of Cambridge, Earl of Wessex and Princess Royal would have been, by convention for a royal ceremonial funeral, in full military uniform.
The issue was compounded when Andrew demanded to wear the uniform of admiral, a position he had offered to defer taking up after stepping back from public duties in the wake of the Epstein scandal.
Crucially Andrew has not been stripped of his honorary military titles and remains a vice-admiral in the Royal Navy.
It led to concerns within the Royal Household that if Andrew were denied his request to go in uniform, he and Harry would be the only ones in civilian dress who had seen active service in the military. A source said: ‘There was the risk of real embarrassment.’
The Queen has decided that, to retain family unity and spare Harry any public humiliation, everyone will dress the same – morning coats and black ties for the men, simple black outfits for the women.
It is believed to be only the second time in more than a century that members of the Royal Family have not worn uniform to the funeral of a monarch or their spouse.
It will, however, be seen as a significant public olive branch to Harry in the wake of his and Meghan’s devastating interview with Oprah Winfrey last month, in which they criticised members of his immediate family and accused the institution of racism.
Buckingham Palace last night declined to comment, but the Mail understands the decision will be officially announced today.
It is believed that there is a genuine desire to try to start to repair stricken family relationships, particularly the rift between Harry and his older brother William, and the funeral of their beloved grandfather may be a good place to start.
Discussions on the issue went to the wire, with senior aides including the Master of the Household, Vice-Admiral Tony Johnstone-Burt, trying to negotiate a solution. The final decision rested with the widowed Queen.
A source close to Andrew said yesterday that he would ‘do what is appropriate’ and had no intention to distract from his father’s funeral. He served 21 years in the Navy and is promoted in line with his peers who are still serving.
He became a rear admiral on his 50th birthday, a vice-admiral on his 55th and had been due to become an admiral on his 60th last year. But he requested to forgo the promotion until he is able to clear his name and fully resume royal duties.
The Daily Mail understands that, in an unprecedented about-turn, a last minute decision, approved by the Queen (pictured), has been made that no royals will wear military uniform in order to present a united family front
Sophie, Countess of Wessex stands with Prince Edward and Prince Andrew as the brothers wear ceremonial dress at a service of commemoration to mark the end of combat operations in Afghanistan, at St Paul’s Cathedral in London in March 2015
Prince Charles and Prince William wear ceremonial uniform next to the Queen on the balcony at Buckingham Palace in 2015
Prince Andrew in ceremonial dress at a service to mark the centenary of the RAF in London on July 10, 2018 (left); and Prince Harry in a normal suit at the Commonwealth Day Service at Westminster Abbey on March 9, 2020 (right)
However it is understood that he still asked to go to his father’s funeral as an admiral. Saturday’s event is known as a royal ceremonial funeral – based on one held 19 years ago for the Queen Mother, wife of George VI – at Philip’s specific request.
It is not as large or as grand as a state funeral, but many of the ceremonial elements are the same. All senior royals entitled to wear uniform, including the Duke of Edinburgh, did so in April 2002.
This was in contrast to the private funeral of the Queen’s sister, Princess Margaret, weeks earlier, where mourning dress was worn, as well as five years earlier at the funeral of Diana, Princess of Wales, by then a former royal.
Initially the plan was for senior royals to wear military uniform on Saturday in line with convention. But it quickly became clear this was a thorny issue given how vocal Harry, currently quarantining at Frogmore Cottage at Windsor after flying back from the US, has been over the loss of his military titles.
Sources close to Harry have revealed the depth of his anger, particularly given he had served 10 years in the military with two frontline tours of Afghanistan.
Last month he told Miss Winfrey that losing his official positions ‘hurt’ but added that he ultimately respected his grandmother’s decision.
However, he pointedly attended – with Meghan – a military cemetery in Los Angeles wearing his lounge suit and medals, after the Queen denied his request to have a wreath laid at the Cenotaph on his behalf on Remembrance Sunday as he is no longer a working royal.
Princess Anne and Timothy Laurence in military dress at a Jutland commemoration in South Queensferry on May 28, 2016
Soldier from the Royal Regiment of Scotland 4 Scots (the Highlanders) rehearsing for the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral on the Drill Square at the Army Training Centre Pirbright in Woking, Surrey, today
Soldiers from the Welsh Guards rehearsing for the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral on the Drill Square at the Army Training Centre Pirbright in Woking, Surrey, today
What military titles do Charles, William, Edward, Andrew and Anne hold?
Prince Charles, Prince William, Prince Edward, Prince Andrew and Princess Anne will all be in military dress because they hold honorary roles. These are as follows:
- Colonel – Welsh Guards
- Colonel-in-Chief – Parachute Regiment; Royal Dragoon Guards; Army Air Corps; Royal Gurkha Rifles; The Queen’s Dragoon Guards; and Mercian Regiment
- Royal Honorary Colonel – Queen’s Own Yeomanry
- Royal Colonel – The Black Watch, 3rd Battalion, The Royal Regiment of Scotland; and 51st Highland, 7th Battalion, The Royal Regiment of Scotland
- Honorary Air Commodore – Royal Air Force Valley
- Honorary Commodore – Her Majesty’s Coastguard
- Commodore-in-Chief – Aircraft Carriers; and Plymouth, Royal Naval Command
- Vice-Admiral – Personal Aide-de-Camp to the Queen
- Colonel – Grenadier Guards
- Colonel-in-Chief – 9th/12th Royal Lancers (Prince of Wales’s); Royal Irish Regiment (27th (Inniskilling) 83rd and 87th and Ulster Defence Regiment); Small Arms School Corps; and Yorkshire Regiment (14th/15th, 19th and 33rd/76th Foot)
- Royal Colonel – Royal Highland Fusiliers, 2nd Battalion Royal Regiment of Scotland
- Honorary Air Commodore – Royal Air Force Lossiemouth
- Commodore-in-Chief – Fleet Air Arm
- Royal Honorary Colonel – Royal Wessex Yeomanry; and London Regiment
- Commodore-in-Chief – Royal Fleet Auxiliary
- Royal Colonel – 2nd Battalion, The Rifles
- Honorary Air Commodore – Royal Air Force Waddington
- Colonel-in-Chief – King’s Royal Hussars; Worcestershire and Sherwood Foresters Regiment (29/45 Foot); Royal Corps of Signals; Royal Logistic Corps; and the Royal Army Veterinary Corps
- Colonel – Blues and Royals
- Royal Colonel – Royal Scots Borderers, 1st Battalion Royal Regiment of Scotland; 52nd Lowland, 6th Battalion Royal Regiment of Scotland
- Royal Honorary Colonel – University of London OTC
- Commandant-in-Chief – First Aid Nursing Yeomanry (Princess Royal’s Volunteer Corps)
- Honorary Air Commodore – RAF Brize Norton; and the University of London Air Squadron
- Commodore-in-Chief – HMNB Portsmouth
- Chief Commandant – Women in the Royal Navy
- Commodore-in-Chief – Royal Navy Submarine Service; and Scotland
- Honorary Air Commandant – RAF Coningsby
- Colonel – Irish Guards
How HAS it come to this… and what on earth would Prince Philip think? The Duke’s family will be in mourning clothes for his funeral with not a flash of ceremonial gold stripe on view, writes RICHARD KAY
By RICHARD KAY FOR THE DAILY MAIL
On Saturday, when the nation comes to a halt for the funeral of one of its last bona fide Second World War heroes, not one of Prince Philip’s family will be clad in military uniform.
Instead his sons, daughter, grandsons and cousins – who by virtue of appointment or distinguished service have a right to regimental or naval dress – will be in mourning clothes: Tailcoats for the men and dresses of black crepe for the women.
Not a flash of ceremonial gold stripe nor a navy blue sash will be on view, no decorated peak caps to be raised and lowered as protocol demands and no snappy salutes given.
So how on earth has it come to this?
A delicate compromise was how it was being seen in Palace circles last night, an attempt to head off the possibility of yet another internal family row.
But to many it will look less like a concession and more like a capitulation. In an instant, centuries of tradition have been overturned.
The reason? A question of uniforms for two royal dukes.
The two dukes, of course, are Prince Andrew and Prince Harry, both semi-detached from royal life yet both with a compelling hold on a military heritage.
On Saturday, when the nation comes to a halt for the funeral of one of its last bona fide Second World War heroes, not one of Prince Philip’s family will be clad in military uniform
The two dukes, Prince Andrew (left) and Prince Harry (right), are both semi-detached from royal life yet both have a compelling hold on a military heritage
As the Daily Mail reported yesterday, Andrew – who has stood down from official duties over his friendship with convicted paedophile Jeffrey Epstein – had made clear that he wished to wear the uniform of an admiral, the rank he was awarded by the Queen on his 60th birthday and which at the time he offered to defer.
But while this has provoked unease in and around the office of the Lord Chamberlain, which is overseeing the formality of the funeral, the major focus is on the position of the Duke of Sussex.
Harry’s decision to give up royal life and move to California with his wife Meghan and their son Archie meant he had to surrender his treasured honorary military titles.
This has thus opened up the very real possibility that Philip’s grandson would have been the only senior male royal not in uniform at the funeral of the warrior prince.
It is hard to escape the irony of this. Of all those in Philip’s immediate family, only two had – like him – seen active service, his son Andrew and his grandson Harry.
In the Falklands conflict of 1982 Andrew was a daring helicopter pilot flying dangerous decoy missions to lure deadly Argentine Excocet missiles away from British warships. No one questioned his courage then and he left the Royal Navy after 22 years of impeccable service.
Philip’s sons, daughter, grandsons and cousins will be in mourning clothes: Tailcoats for the men and dresses of black crepe for the women
Harry displayed bravery on not one but two tours of Afghanistan, once as an infantry troop leader on the ground and second time round flying sorties at the controls of an Apache helicopter. He, too, was selfless in his service.
Harry and Andrew – both second sons, remember, who spent much of their lives as heirs to their elder brothers – have been troubled by what they see as their exclusion from military matters. How this has hurt; both hardened by combat but crushed by disappointment.
Andrew has long kept up links with other veterans and survivors of the South Atlantic conflict, while Harry turned his support for wounded servicemen into the Invictus Games.
No wonder this has provoked a crisis at the Palace. Imagine the scene as the royals follow the family patriarch’s coffin down the hill from Windsor Castle to its place of rest at St George’s Chapel on Saturday afternoon.
There is Harry, and possibly Andrew, in civilian clothes alongside Prince Edward, who abandoned the Royal Marines just weeks into its gruelling commando course, but who holds a handful of honorary military titles permitting him to don uniform, and Princess Anne, who also has a fistful of Army and Navy appointments but no service experience.
Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh and Prince Harry watch the fly-past from the balcony of Buckingham Palace during Trooping the Colour, Queen Elizabeth II’s Birthday Parade on June 14, 2014 in London
It is difficult to imagine Philip, who said he never left the Navy but was merely on permanent leave, doing anything but harrumphing at this extraordinary state of affairs.
Here was a man, the youngest officer promoted to first lieutenant during the war, mentioned in despatches during the Battle of Cape Matapan and a witness to the Japanese surrender in Tokyo Bay, now being denied the kind of send-off, with its blaze of ceremonial colour, he had so often presided over.
When the Queen Mother was laid to rest in 2002, it was Philip leading the funeral procession in his ceremonial Royal Navy uniform. And it was the same in 1979, at the obsequies for Earl Mountbatten of Burma, the uncle he lost at the hands of the murderous IRA.
He was in military uniform, too, for the funeral of Britain’s wartime prime minister Sir Winston Churchill in 1965.
And he surely would have expected nothing less at his own farewell: That those entitled to wear uniform should do so. He might have helpfully argued that if Harry and Andrew could not wear the dress of the senior and honorary positions they held, why not the uniform of the ranks they left the service with?
In Andrew’s case in 2001 it was as a commander. Harry reached the rank of captain, which was automatically promoted to major on his retirement.
But Philip, too, was the great pragmatist of the Royal Family. Might he not also have thought how much better if his funeral were a vessel for agreement rather than one of dissent?
Harry and William ‘will be reunited for the first time on the morning of Philip’s funeral’: Kate is ‘set to act as peacemaker’ after the brothers ‘spoke on the phone while the Duke of Sussex isolates at Frogmore Cottage’
By MARTIN ROBINSON, CHIEF REPORTER FOR MAILONLINE
Prince William and Prince Harry will not meet in person until their grandfather Prince Philip’s funeral on Saturday with Kate Middleton helping them put on a ‘unified’ front for the Queen, it was revealed today.
The brothers are believed to have already spoken on the phone since Harry landed at Heathrow ahead of seeing each other face-to-face for the first time in a year at Windsor Castle this weekend.
The Duchess of Cambridge is said to be willing to act as ‘peacemaker’ between the brothers, who have vowed to set aside their rift and try to reset their strained relationship to honour the memory of the Duke of Edinburgh.
Harry described Kate as the ‘big sister I never had’ when she became engaged to William 11 years ago – but the siblings’ relationship became fractured following his decision to emigrate to the US and be interviewed by Oprah Winfrey with his wife Meghan Markle.
The Sussexes accused the Royal Family of racism, with Harry claiming William is ‘trapped’ and saying Prince Charles cut him off financially. Kate was also accused by Meghan of making her cry in a row over bridesmaids dresses in the bombshell TV interview last month, but Kate is said to be pushing for the brothers to make up.
Saturday’s funeral will certainly remind the brothers of their shared grief at another royal funeral more than two decades ago – when, as young boys, both walked behind their mother Princess Diana’s coffin in 1997.
Harry is now in quarantine, but can attend the funeral in line with government rules that make exceptions for such occasions. Meghan, who is pregnant with their second child, was advised by her doctor not to make the long trip.
A royal source told the Daily Telegraph: ‘They know it is not about them on Saturday – it is about honouring their grandfather’s memory and supporting their grandmother. I would be extremely surprised if that wasn’t front and centre of both their minds. They will be keen to spend time together as a family, in the same time zone for once.’ Another insider said: ‘The entire focus is on the Queen. No exceptions. A family unified.’
The brothers will meet face-to-face for the first time in more than a year on Saturday. The brothers also plan to unveil a sculpture in memory of Diana in the gardens at Kensington Palace, together this summer.
In two statements with very different tones released 30 minutes apart on Monday, Prince William praised his grandfather’s lifetime of service to ‘Queen, country and Commonwealth’ before Harry declared: ‘He was my grandpa: master of the barbecue, legend of banter, and cheeky right ’til the end’.
William’s words focused on duty, continuing Philip’s work and the need to support the Queen, with some royal watchers pondering if this was, in part, a criticism of his brother who quit as a frontline royal and emigrated to the United States with his wife.
Harry is understood to have chosen to self-isolate at Frogmore Cottage at Windsor Castle where the Queen is based, rather than at Kensington Palace where his brother lives with his wife and three children.
Prince William and Prince Harry are expected to see eachother for the first time in a year just hours before Saturday’s funeral – with the Duchess of Cambridge helping them be ‘united’ (pictured together in 2016)
Harry and William have fallen out in the past year but have spoken this week and plan to spend time together this weekend to repair their relationship, with Kate Middleton said to be acting as peacemaker ahead of the funeral of Prince Philip (pictured together at the Trooping The Colour parade in 2014
It came as the Queen stoically returned to royal duties yesterday, four days after the death of her husband the Duke of Edinburgh, and within the official period of eight days of mourning.
The monarch, 94, hosted a retirement ceremony for the former Lord Chamberlain Earl Peel on Tuesday.
It comes after her husband of 73-years, Prince Philip, passed away aged 99 on Friday at Windsor Castle.
As touching tributes flooded in from across the nation for the duke, including flowers left at residences such as Windsor and Buckingham Palace, the family announced a two-week period of royal mourning.
But, in a move that typifies the Queen’s deep sense of duty, she returned early to bid farewell to Earl Peel – a key royal aide who is retiring after 14 years of service.
Earl Peel was the Lord Chamberlain, which is the most senior officer role in the royal household. He had been overseeing arrangements for the duke’s funeral – known as Operation Forth Bridge.
The news of the Queen’s return to work came as:
- It was revealed that the Queen may have to wear a mask at Prince Philip’s funeral due to the current Covid restrictions;
- The Queen may also have to sit on her own at the funeral due to rules which mean those attending services must remain seperated from other households;
- Prince Philip’s private secretary, Brigadier Archie Miller-Bakewell, who is part of HMS Bubble, may accompany her, according to reports;
- The Queen also faced the issue of how Prince Andrew should dress at the funeral after he demanded to be allowed to go as an Admiral;
- As tributes mounted up outside royal residences, the Queen’s Twitter account paid a touching tribute to Prince Philip which celebrated his interactions with people ‘from all walks of life’;
- Reports also suggest that the Queen is now likely to spend much of her time in Windsor following the Duke’s death and will instead use Buckingham Palace as ‘more of an office’
The Queen (pictured left in March) stoically returned to royal duties yesterday, four days after the death of her husband the Duke of Edinburgh. The Monarch hosted a retirement ceremony for former Lord Chamberlain Earl Peel (pictured with the Queen in 2013) on Tuesday
It comes after her husband Prince Philip (pictured with the Queen in June last year) passed away, aged 99, on Friday, at Windsor Castle
As touching tributes flooded in from across the nation for the Duke, including flowers left at residences such as Windsor and Buckingham Palace (pictured), the family announced a two-week period of royal mourning
While floral tributes stacked-up at the gates of Buckingham Palace, Britons also attended the gates of Sandringham House in Norfolk to pay tribute to the Duke of Edinburgh
William Peel, great-great-grandson of founder of the modern Tory party
William Peel, 3rd Earl Peel, is a great-great-grandson of Prime Minister Sir Robert Peel, one of the founders of the modern Conservative party.
The businessman served as a hereditary Tory peer from 1973 to 2006 when, on appointment to Lord Chamberlain, he became a crossbench member of the Lords.
He attended Ampleforth College in Yorkshire before the University of Tours in France and the Royal Agricultural University, Cirencester.
He was a member of the Prince’s Council, which advises the Duchy of Cornwall, from 1993 to 2006.
Lord Peel was also a member of the Nature Conservancy Council, a since dissolved Government conservation agency, from 1991 to 1996.
He married Veronica Thompson in 1973 and they had two children together before they divorced in 1987.
Two years later, Lord Peel married Charlotte Soames, daughter of Lord Soames and his wife, Mary Churchill, daughter of Sir Winston Churchill.
They have one child, Lady Antonia Peel, born in 1991.
Prince Andrew, The Duke of York, recently said his mother is bearing up stoically and the family have been rallying round to support her.
And Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge, has pledged to uphold his grandfather’s wishes and continue to support the Queen and ‘get on with the job’.
It was announced at the weekend the monarchy and their households would observe two weeks of royal mourning, with members of the family ‘continuing to undertake engagements appropriate to the circumstances,’ a royal official said.
The Princess Royal, Prince Anne, took part in her first official event since the death of her father.
She joined, via video-link, the Royal College of Emergency Medicine’s Spring Conference in her role as the organisation’s patron.
The Earl Peel, who has now left his role as the royal family’s top aide, had overseen arrangements for the duke’s funeral before handing responsibility to his successor, former MI5 spy chief Baron Parker, just over a week before Philip died peacefully at Windsor Castle.
The Lord Chamberlain’s Office, led by the Queen’s Comptroller Lieutenant Colonel Michael Vernon, is tasked with the practical side of the day.
But in overall charge is Andrew Parker, Baron Parker of Minsmere, who took up his new role on April 1, following the Earl Peel’s retirement after more than 14 years in the post.
The Lord Chamberlain oversees all senior appointments in the household and is the channel of communication between the sovereign and the House of Lords.
The position also ensures co-ordination between Buckingham Palace and Clarence House.
During a ceremony held at Windsor Castle, the Queen accepted her former royal aide’s wand and insignia of office.
The official engagement was recorded in the Court Circular – a daily list of the events attended by the Queen and her family.
The Lord Chamberlain’s Office, led by the Queen’s Comptroller Lieutenant Colonel Michael Vernon, is tasked with the practical side of the day. But in overall charge is Andrew Parker (pictured), Baron Parker of Minsmere, who took up his new role on April 1, following the Earl Peel’s (pictured left) retirement after more than 14 years in the post
It said: ‘The Earl Peel had an audience of The Queen today, delivered up his Wand and Insignia of Office as Lord Chamberlain and the Badge of Chancellor of the Royal Victorian Order and took leave upon relinquishing his appointment as Lord Chamberlain, when Her Majesty invested him with the Royal Victorian Chain.’
The Queen recently conferred a prestigious honour on the Earl Peel, making him a Permanent Lord in Waiting.
The Armed Forces are stepping up preparations for the duke’s funeral which will feature servicemen and women from the Royal Navy, Royal Marines, Army and RAF – alongside top military brass.
The Queen ‘understands’ why pregnant Meghan Markle hasn’t flown from US for Prince Philip’s funeral
The Queen reportedly told pregnant Meghan Markle she ‘understands’ why the duchess has not flown from the US with Prince Harry to Britain to attend Prince Philip’s funeral on Saturday.
Meghan, who lives in an £11million mansion in California, allegedly ‘wanted’ to attend the service for the Duke of Edinburgh but had been advised against making the 10-hour flight by her physician.
Her husband Harry is staying at Frogmore Cottage, the couple’s former home in the grounds of Windsor Castle, to quarantine for five days before attending the funeral at St George’s Chapel.
Amid claims in the US that the duchess skipped it to avoid being ‘centre of attention’, a source in California has insisted that the 94-year-old monarch told Meghan she ‘understands’ why she did not come.
Revealing she and Harry were ‘in contact with the Queen’ after Philip’s death on Friday, the source also told People magazine that it was ‘always a given that Harry would return to England for his grandfather’s passing’ and that Meghan had ‘expressed condolences’ when speaking with the grieving monarch.
Harry landed at London Heathrow Airport via a BA flight from LA at the weekend, making this journey his first back to Britain since his and Meghan’s bombshell interview with Oprah Winfrey.
Meghan, who accused the royal family of racism in the explosive TV interview, is pregnant with Harry’s second child – a daughter. She is remaining in the US with their one-year-old son Archie.
Soldiers from the Corps of the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (REME) are reportedly working to prepare the special Land Rover – that the duke helped design – which will carry his coffin on Saturday.
Lieutenant General Paul Jaques, who served with REME, said about the duke, his unit’s former colonel-in-chief: ‘He was engaged with us and used to visit us probably once or twice every single year since 1969.
‘And he had an enormous passion for all things engineering. In his own words ‘If it wasn’t invented by God, it was invented by an engineer’.
It comes amid reports that the Queen may have to sit apart from family members at her husband’s funeral – due to strict Covid rules.
Current guidelines mean anyone attending a funeral must stay at least two metres apart from those outside their household, except when in a support bubble.
However the Queen is not eligible to be in a support bubble, because she technically does not live on her own – and is supported by a team of royal aides dubbed ‘HMS Bubble’.
As other members of the Royal Family are living in other royal residences, it means the Queen will likely have to sit at least two metres away from relatives at the funeral, according to the Telegraph.
Royal sources confirmed to the paper that the Queen would be alone at the funeral service, unless a member of the Windsor bubble joins her.
Meanwhile, the Queen will likely have to wear a mask at the funeral, while royals could be banned from singing hymns due to Covid restrictions, reports the Sun.
Updated national guidance, issued by the Government, said communal singing should not go ahead at funerals to prevent the spread of Covid.
Choirs are still allowed, but members must be kept to as few as possible and should remain socially distanced.
A Buckingham Palace spokesperson said tonight: ‘We have made it very clear that the service will be Covid compliant.’
More details of the funeral, set to take place at George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle on Saturday, are to be announced on Thursday.
Meanwhile, reports in the Daily Express today suggest that the Queen will spend more time at Windsor following the death of Prince Philip.
The Queen has reportedly told royal sources that she now feels ‘most comfortable’ living within the walls of the Berkshire fortress – known to be her favourite royal residence.
Even prior to Prince Philip’s death the Queen had been spending more and more time at Windsor – and has been sheltering there for much of the pandemic.
It is believed Buckingham Palace will be used in more of an office role going forward, the Express adds.
Ahead of Saturday’s funeral, Prince Harry flew into London’s Heathrow Airport without his heavily-pregnant wife Meghan Markle ahead of Prince Philip’s funeral on his first visit to Britain since quitting royal duties and the couple’s bombshell Oprah interview.
Prince Harry and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh attend the 2015 Rugby World Cup Final match between New Zealand and Australia at Twickenham Stadium on October 31, 2015 in London. Harry is back in London ahead of his grandfather’s funeral this Saturday
Queen carries on: Grieving monarch ‘will still conduct state opening of Parliament on May 11’
The Queen will not delay returning to work after her husband’s funeral and plans to attend the state opening of Parliament next month, MailOnline can reveal today.
Her Majesty will attend the ceremonial event in the House of Lords without her husband Prince Philip and will be supported by her son Prince Charles at Westminster on May 11 instead.
She has entered an eight-day period of mourning following the death of her husband at the age of 99 – and thereafter a further official period of 30 days for the Royal Family, after which the Queen will make a full return to public life and duties.
The monarch has overseen every one of the constitutional set pieces since taking the throne in 1952, apart from in 1959 and 1963 when she was pregnant with Prince Andrew and Prince Edward respectively.
While the Duke of Edinburgh only missed the event once, 12 months before he retired in 2018, when he was hospitalised.
Today a well-placed Westminster source has said the Queen is still planning to conduct the state opening of Parliament on May 11. There had been speculation that she might not attend in person amid the pandemic and after the loss of Prince Philip. But one source said: ‘She is still coming, with Charles.’
It came as the Royal Family released more tributes to the Duke of Edinburgh, from officers at Britannia Royal Naval College at Dartmouth, where the Queen’s husband was awarded the King’s Dirk for the best all-round cadet of the term, as well as a prize for the best cadet in college.
The Duke of Sussex was reportedly seen leaving his £11million California mansion on Saturday night in a black Cadillac Escalade to board an early-hours flight from LA, and disembarking a BA plane in chinos, a jacket and black face mask at the west London airport around 10 hours later at 1.15pm GMT on Sunday.
Harry was met by security off the plane and put into a black Range Rover, before he was reportedly driven to Kensington Palace.
The Sun has claimed he is quarantining at the Christopher Wren-designed Nottingham Cottage, where Harry proposed to Meghan Markle in 2017. It is just a few yards from the apartment where his brother William lives with his family.
The Sunday Times has claimed that he will stay at Frogmore Cottage in the grounds of Windsor Castle, so he can be close to his grandmother.
After Megxit, Frogmore was handed to Princess Eugenie and Jack Brooksbank, who had their first child in February, but they are understood to split their time between the cottage and Kensington Palace.
Harry can leave quarantine after five days rather than 10 if he provides a negative test under the Government’s Test to Release scheme.
However, he will be allowed to attend Philip’s funeral regardless, as official guidelines state those coming in from abroad can leave isolation ‘on compassionate grounds’.
It comes as family members paid touching tributes to the duke.
The Royal Family’s Twitter page shared a picture with the Queen and Prince Philip along with a moving quote from the monarch about her husband from a speech she made celebrating their golden wedding anniversary in 1997.
In the speech, looking back at their then 50 year marriage, she said: ‘He has, quite simply, been my strength and stay all these years, and I, and his whole family, and this and many other countries, owe him a debt greater than he would ever claim, or we shall ever know.’
Grandchildren, Prince Harry and Prince William also paid tribute in statements released thirty minutes apart.
Prince William praised his grandfather’s lifetime of service to ‘Queen, country and Commonwealth’ before Harry declared: ‘He was my grandpa: master of the barbecue, legend of banter, and cheeky right ’til the end’.