Soldiers from the Household Cavalry and Coldstream Guards today carried out rehearsal drills for Prince Philip’s farewell on Saturday, as a security ring of steel went up around Windsor ahead of the funeral.
The preparations, involving members of the Life Guards and the Blues and Royals, took place on the Drill Square at the Army Training Centre Pirbright in Woking, Surrey.
Soldiers from the Welsh Guards, the Coldstream Guards, and the Royal Regiment of Scotland 4 Scots (the Highlanders) were also involved in practice sessions ahead of the funeral at Windsor Castle.
Armed guards and wardens continued to patrol outside Windsor as preparations were made to the streets outside including signs referred to the coronavirus pandemic, saying: ‘Don’t let your guard down.’
It came as mourners continued to gather outside royal residences to pay their respects following the death of the Duke of Edinburgh five days ago aged 99.
Elsewhere, media companies were busy setting up tents for broadcasting facilities ahead of Saturday while Thames Valley Police are carrying out specialist searches around Windsor town, with officers examining street furniture including phone boxes, post boxes, drains and bins as part of the operation.
Members of the Household Cavalry, The Blues and Royals rehearse in Woking today ahead of the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral
Soldier from the Royal Regiment of Scotland 4 Scots (the Highlanders) rehearse in Woking today ahead of Philip’s funeral
Military personnel rehearse for the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral on the Drill Square at the Army Training Centre Pirbright today
A member of the Coldstream Guards prepares his uniform before rehearsing in Woking today for the Duke’s funeral
Soldiers from the Royal Regiment of Scotland 4 Scots (the Highlanders) at the Army Training Centre Pirbright in Woking today
Soldiers from the Welsh Guards rehearse on the Drill Square at the Army Training Centre Pirbright in Woking, Surrey, today
A member of the Coldstream Guards prepares his uniform in Woking today ahead of rehearsals for Philip’s funeral
A member of the Household Cavalry, The Life Guards prepares her uniform before rehearsing in Woking today for the funeral
The bugler leading The Last Post at Philip’s funeral, Sergeant Bugler Jamie Ritchie, I/C Corps of Drums, Royal Marines, ahead of a rehearsal for the service on the Drill Square at the Army Training Centre Pirbright in Woking, Surrey, today
One Royal Navy commander said the magnitude of being involved in the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral has not quite sunk in for members of the military.
Philip’s close association with the military will be on show at his ceremonial funeral this weekend, with elements of the Royal Navy, RAF and Army present during an eight-minute procession in the grounds of Windsor Castle.
The duke had a distinguished career in the Navy, and while he gave up active service in 1951 he remained closely connected to the Navy and other military organisations throughout his public life.
Lieutenant Commander Hywell Morgan, commanding officer on HMS Magpie, is among hundreds of military personnel rehearsing this week for the funeral at Army Training Centre Pirbright, near Woking, Surrey.
Looking ahead to Saturday, he said: ‘It’s a slightly nerve-racking experience really. I don’t think the magnitude of it has quite sunk in.
Soldiers from the Royal Regiment of Scotland 4 Scots (the Highlanders) rehearse for the Duke’s funeral in Woking today
A soldier from the Household Calvary Life Guards prepares his uniform before rehearsing in Woking today for Philip’s funeral
A soldier from the Coldstream Guards prepares his uniform before rehearsing for the Duke’s funeral in Woking today
A soldier from the Household Calvary Life Guards prepares his uniform before rehearsing in Woking for the funeral today
Soldiers from the Welsh Guards rehearse on the Drill Square at the Army Training Centre Pirbright in Woking today
Soldiers from the Household Calvary, Life Guards prepare their uniform before rehearsing in Woking today for the funeral
A soldier from the The Life Guards is pictured during rehearsals in Woking today for the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral
Soldiers from the Household Calvary, Life Guards and the Blues and Royals prepare their uniform in Woking today
Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh at Broadlands on November 18, 2007. The Duke died last Friday aged 99
‘It’s an incredible privilege to be involved given the connection between the unit I currently command and the Duke of Edinburgh’s own command back in the early 1950s.’
Duke of Edinburgh Award launches new fund in memory of Prince Philip
The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award has announced it is launching a new fund in memory of Philip, who founded the charity.
It said the Living Legacy Fund will give a million more young people in the UK the chance to achieve a DofE Award over the next five years.
The fund will help to establish new centres, train thousands more leaders and volunteers, and provide targeted help to young people who need specialist support to complete their award, the charity said.
In July 1950, Philip was promoted to lieutenant commander and given his first command of HMS Magpie – a name that lives on in the current Navy fleet.
Lieutenant Commander Morgan, from the Rhondda Valley in South Wales, said: ‘There’s definitely a sense of following in the footsteps of greats, even though our vessels are considerably different in scope and size.’
He described the last few days as a ‘baptism of fire’, adding: ‘I don’t think the magnitude has quite sunk in for me personally, I think for some of the others as well.
‘But as we line up ready to march off on Saturday I’m sure it will sink in, and the true impact of just the scale of that event will sink in.’
Pirbright was chosen for rehearsals due to its proximity to Windsor and the infrastructure that allows for regular Covid-19 testing and accommodation.
The majority of the personnel gathered today were in their barrack dress as they practised parading and bands rehearsed music in a large space on the site.
Captain Gemma Darrington, operations officer for 27th Regiment, The Royal Logistic Corps, spoke of the importance of the rehearsals being Covid compliant.
She said organisers are ‘making sure we were doing everything that society would do and making sure our people are as safe as possible’, adding that personnel have been subject to Covid tests and social distancing is enforced.
‘Everything is made more difficult by Covid. Simple things – normally you can accommodate 1,000 people here, but that’s been reduced to 500 people, and so key for us is keeping bubbles as small as possible, so if anyone does contract it it’s affecting as few people as possible.
Children lay flowers among the tributes left near Windsor Castle today following the death of Prince Philip last Friday
A warden walks in front of police officers who stand guard outside Windsor Castle today, three days before Philip’s funeral
People stand outside Windsor Castle today in front of flowers left in memory of Prince Philip following his death aged 99
A well-wisher arrives to deliver a floral tribute to Windsor Castle today in memory of the late Duke of Edinburgh
Members of the public look at Windsor Castle and take pictures outside today following the death of Prince Philip last week
Children stand outside Windsor Castle as they look at flowers placed at the gates in memory of Prince Philip
Armed police patrol outside Windsor Castle today, nearly a week after the death of the Duke of Edinburgh at the age of 99
A worker installs Covid-19 information signs depicting Coldstream Guards wearing face coverings at Windsor Castle today
Wardens stand outside Windsor Castle today as preparations continue inside for Prince Philip’s funeral this Saturday
A well-wisher wheels a floral tribute to Prince Philip through the streets of Windsor before arriving at the castle today
‘Again, you want to reduce that spread. It is just that detailed planning of how you get everyone in here in that Covid-compliant manner and safely.
‘It’s a huge honour. I don’t think we’ve really had time to think about it, and the magnitude of the event that we’re supporting, because we have been very busy.
‘But I very much look forward to taking that time on Saturday when the service is going ahead and take the time to think about the royal family, and what they’re going through, and really paying our respects in that way.
‘But absolutely, we know we’re playing a part in history here and we do feel very privileged to be in that role.’
Members of the public make their way along the Long Walk at Windsor Castle today as people leave floral tributes to Philip
Well wishers leave floral tributes outside Windsor Castle in Berkshire today following the death of Philip last week
A pedestrian walks under a sign asking people not to gather at royal residencies as Windsor Castle is also seen today
A worker carries social distancing signs in the shape of soldiers outside Windsor Castle today
A Windsor Castle warden stands outside the royal residence today as preparations continue for Philip’s funeral
Tents are set up for television broadcast journalists to work from near Windsor Castle today ahead of Saturday’s funeral
Workers move flowers left as tributes to inside the grounds of Windsor Castle today as mourners continue to gather
Members of the media work near Windsor Castle today ahead of the funeral being broadcast around the world this weekend
Three portraits are seen in a gallery window near Windsor Castle today following the death of the Duke of Edinburgh
A tribute is seen in a pub window near Windsor Castle today ahead of the funeral of the Duke of Edinburgh this Saturday
A mounted regiment of the British Army exercises their horses along The Long Walk leading to Windsor Castle today
Preparations being made for TV and radio broadcasters outside Windsor Castle today ahead of the funeral this Saturday
Wardens and a police officer stand outside Windsor Castle today as preparations continue ahead of Philip’s funeral
One cafe worker in Windsor said the Duke of Edinburgh was a ‘big part of the community’, and is expecting the Berkshire town to be ‘very busy’ on the day of Philip’s ceremonial royal funeral at St George’s Chapel.
Prince Andrew ‘has no intention to distract’ from Prince Philip’s funeral amid ex-officer’s fury at his demand to wear full admiral’s uniform
Prince William has ‘neither wish nor intention to distract from’ his father Prince Philip’s funeral, a source close to him told MailOnline today as the Queen was forced to decide which rank of military uniform he can wear.
The Duke of York has demanded to go as an Admiral to Saturday’s service, in a move condemned today including by one former Territorial Army officer who blasted it as a ‘hissy fit’ that is ‘not going to go down very well’.
Prince Andrew – who stepped back from public duties over his friendship with convicted paedophile Jeffrey Epstein 18 months ago – was made an honorary Vice-Admiral in the Royal Navy on his 55th birthday in 2015.
The 61-year-old Duke was due to be promoted to Admiral on his 60th birthday last year, but offered to defer it until he cleared his name and returned to public duties. Now Andrew has sparked ructions at Buckingham Palace after he told his mother and senior officials that he wished to attend the funeral as an Admiral.
The widowed Queen will have to make a decision in the next 24 hours. But a source close to Andrew told MailOnline today: ‘The Duke of York is very keenly aware of Saturday’s funeral being a moment for the Duke of Edinburgh, HM (Her Majesty) and the nation. He has neither wish nor intention to distract from that. Speculation on what he may or may not wear is just that, speculation, and no matters of this nature have yet been decided upon. The Duke of York will do what is appropriate to the circumstances – he remains stepped back from royal duties.’
Royal officials are also wrestling with the dilemma of Prince Harry possibly being the only senior male royal not in uniform at the funeral.
Speaking about Andrew, a former Territorial Army infantry officer, who did not wish to be named, told MailOnline today: ‘Wow. I would have thought he had bigger fish to fry than whether he had an extra epaulet on his shoulder. I think it will cause outrage for people – he’s not a popular person. Having a hissy fit that you want to be an Admiral is not going to go down very well. It doesn’t sound great.’
Tone Mendez, who has worked at the nearby Clairmont’s cafe for 12 years, said he may be working from 3am that day due to an expected influx of visitors.
But the 39-year-old, originally from Portugal, said the cafe in the High Street has been ordered by the local council not to put any tables outside.
Authorities have already warned well-wishers not to visit the town on the day of the funeral due to concerns over the potential transmission of Covid-19.
‘This weekend we received a letter from the council saying we’re not allowed to put any tables from Friday night until six o’clock on Saturday,’ Mr Mendez said.
‘It is a big shame. It will be lovely to put all the tables out and people just sit there on (a) sunny day. But they probably think the town is going to be very busy and, for safety reasons, we’re not allowed to put tables outside.’
He said the last time such a rule was imposed was for the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex in May 2018, when thousands lined the streets to catch a glimpse of the royal couple.
Asked about his expectations for Saturday, Mr Mendez said: ‘I believe it’s going to be very, very busy. I’ve been hearing things around that they are going to shut Windsor, but I don’t know if it’s true or not.’
Mr Mendez said lockdown had meant a ‘tough few weeks’ for the cafe, but the last few days have been ‘quite intense’. He added: ‘Windsor is packed now. Every weekend is going mental now,. And we expect to be more busy this weekend.’
The duke’s funeral will take place entirely behind the walls of Windsor Castle, with members of the public urged not to visit the historic market town to try to watch the proceedings.
John Story, mayor of Windsor and Maidenhead, previously said: ‘It is a very difficult time for people and people have very strong feelings, but we have to ask everyone to put theirs and the health and safety of others at the top of their list of priorities and not come in to Windsor.’
When he initially learned of Philip’s death from his daughter, Mr Mendez said he thought it was ‘a joke’ but when he saw ‘a lot of people walking by with flowers’ he knew it was ‘real’.
He added: ‘He’s a big part of the community of Windsor. We see him in the Long Walk riding his horses… at the market he’s there talking to people. He’s a very nice person to deal with. But now he’s gone, it’s a shame.’
Thames Valley Police have also advised people to respect the Royal Household’s wishes and Government advice by not visiting royal residences or gathering in public to protect against coronavirus transmission.
Additional officers are due to be patrolling Windsor town centre. The UK is officially in a period of national mourning for the next week, up to and including Philip’s funeral on Saturday afternoon.
The service at St George’s Chapel will be like no other, with the Queen and her family wearing face masks and socially distancing as they gather to say their final farewell amid Covid-19 restrictions.
Members of the public leave tributes to the Duke Of Edinburgh outside the gates of Buckingham Palace in London today
Police officers and well wishers gather outside the gates of Buckingham Palace today to pay tribute to Prince Philip
A police officer speaks with members of the public through the gates at Buckingham Palace in London today
A cyclist walks past tributes to Prince Philip outside Buckingham Palace today following the Duke’s death last Friday
A member of the Queen’s Guard crosses the street to Buckingham Palace in London today as funeral preparations continue
The Union Flag at Buckingham Palace flies at half mast today as a tribute to Prince Philip following his death last week
Buckingham Palace is pictured from Green Park today as mourners continue to gather at the royal residence in London
People sit outside Kensington Palace in West London today as the world continues to mourn the death of Prince Philip
The statue of Queen Victoria at Kensington Palace is pictured today as the Royal Family continue their period of mourning
Philip’s wishes are the driving force behind the funeral plans, and on the day his coffin will be transported from the castle to the chapel in a specially modified Land Rover he helped to design.
Princess Eugenie releases a poignant tribute to her ‘dearest grandpa’ Philip
Princess Eugenie has paid a heartfelt tribute to her ‘dearest Grandpa’ the Duke of Edinburgh, pledging to look after ‘Granny’ the Queen for him.
Eugenie, one of the duke’s eight grandchildren, recalled fond memories being taught to cook, paint and what to read by Philip, who died on Friday aged 99.
Princess Eugenie, 30, has penned an emotional tribute to Prince Philip. They are pictured at the Epsom Derby in 2017
Looking back on happier days, the princess, 31, who just weeks ago gave birth to her first child, began her message to the duke on Instagram with: ‘Dearest Grandpa, We all miss you. You would be so touched by all the tributes that have been shared with me the past few days.
‘People remember sitting next to you at a dinner, or shaking your hand once, who remember you saying hello in passing, or remember how much their DofE award meant to them.
‘I remember learning how to cook, how to paint, what to read. I remember laughing at your jokes and asking about your spectacular life and service in the navy.
‘I remember incinerating the sausages and you swooping in to save the day. I remember your hands and your laugh and your favourite beer. I will remember you in your children, your grandchildren and great grandchildren. Thank you for your dedication and love for us all and especially Granny, who we will look after for you. With all my love Eugenie.’
This will be followed by Prince Charles and senior royals on foot. The coffin will be covered by the duke’s personal standard together with his naval cap and sword and a wreath of flowers.
Only 30 people – expected to be the Duke’s children, grandchildren and other close family – will attend as guests, but the Duchess of Sussex has been advised by her doctor not to travel to the UK for the funeral.
Mourners coming from outside England are required to self-isolate for the first full ten days after they arrive, but are allowed to leave on compassionate grounds to attend a funeral of a close family member.
The Duke of Sussex, who is in quarantine at Frogmore Cottage after travelling from the US, could also be released from quarantine if he gets a negative private test on day five under the Test to Release scheme.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has given up his seat at the funeral to allow a family member to attend. While all public elements of the funeral – to take place entirely in the grounds of the castle – have been cancelled, it will be televised.
As the funeral procession makes its way through the grounds of the castle, Charles will be joined by senior royals – but not the Queen – walking behind the coffin and followed by Philip’s household, the most senior figure his private secretary Brigadier Archie Miller-Bakewell.
The route of the procession will be lined by representatives from the Royal Navy, Royal Marines, Army and RAF and the Service chiefs will walk ahead of the coffin, with the cortege led by the Band of the Grenadier Guards.
The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby and David Conner, the Dean of Windsor, are expected to officiate at the service.
The duke died peacefully in his sleep at Windsor Castle on Friday, two months before his 100th birthday. On Saturday, gun salutes were fired across the UK, in Gibraltar and at sea in tribute.
The royal family has appealed to people who wish to pay their respects in person to stay at home instead.
The Queen may have to sit alone during the service due to social distancing rules, the Telegraph has reported. She is staying at Windsor with a reduced number of around 22 staff, in what has been dubbed HMS Bubble.
It is thought Philip’s funeral could attract one of the largest television audiences of the year.
The biggest TV audience so far saw 25.1 million people watch Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s televised address on January 4 announcing a new national lockdown, while 13.9 million viewers tuned in for the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s interview with US broadcaster Oprah Winfrey last month.
Broadcasters have yet to confirm their plans for Philip’s funeral, but the BBC and ITV are likely to devote several hours to the event, including the ceremony at 3pm.