What happens next in the UK following the death of Prince Philip?

What Happens Next In The Uk Following The Death Of Prince Philip?
A tribute to the Duke of Edinburgh on display at the Piccadilly Lights in central London. Photo: PA Wire/PA Images
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By Laura Elston, PA Court Reporter

Britain's Prince Philip has died. What happens next in the UK?

There will be no lying in state and no state funeral for Philip, in accordance with his wishes.


His ceremonial royal funeral and burial are expected to take place in St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle.

The Duke of Edinburgh
Prince Philip insisted he did not want to lie in state. Photo: Hannah McKay/PA

But the coronavirus pandemic – with the ban on mass gatherings and England in national lockdown – means the exact plans for the aftermath of Philip’s death have had to change, with public elements removed to prevent crowds gathering.


Flags are already flying at half mast on UK government buildings in tribute to Philip and will do so until the morning after his funeral.

British people have been asked not to gather at royal residences nor to leave floral tributes – but to donate to charity instead.

The funeral

The details of Philip’s televised funeral are expected to be officially announced this weekend, with Buckingham Palace aides having to consider how it should be handled during the worst public health crisis for generations.

Queen Elizabeth has final approval over the plans – codenamed Forth Bridge – and will be considering the amended arrangements.


The date has yet to be confirmed, but originally, the funeral was due to be staged eight days after Philip’s death, which would be April 17th – just four days before the Queen’s 95th birthday on April 21st.

His children and older grandchildren were likely to have walked through the streets behind the coffin, similar to the processions for the funerals of Princess Diana and the Queen Mother – but anything with the potential to draw a crowd will no longer take place.

Diana's funeral procession
Prince Philip, Prince William, Charles Spencer, Prince Harry and Prince Charles walking behind the coffin of Princess Diana. Photo: Tony Harris/PA


Philip helped draw up the original details himself and was determined there should be a minimum of fuss.

Behind the scenes, aides and household staff will be busy putting the plans in place.

The guest list

Only 30 people – in addition to the clergy – will be allowed to attend Philip’s funeral.

It was originally planned for 800 guests, but will now have to take into account the strict limit on numbers during the pandemic.


Queen Elizabeth will have to decide which family members to invite.

Prince Harry is likely to travel back from the US to attend.

Gun salutes

Gun salutes marking Philip’s death will take place across the UK, in Gibraltar and at sea on Saturday.

Gun salutes following the death of the Queen Mother in 2002
Gun salutes following the death of the Queen Mother in 2002. Photo: Army/PA

Saluting batteries will fire 41 rounds at one round every minute from midday in cities including London, Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast, as well as Gibraltar and from navy warships, the UK ministry of defence said.

British royal family’s mourning

Queen Elizabeth also has to decide whether her family will enter court mourning – dressing in black and using black-edged writing paper – or the alternative, shorter family mourning – dressing in black – and how long this will last.

The Queen
The Queen in mourning dress following the death of the Queen Mother. Photo: Kirsty Wigglesworth/PA

Some official engagements may continue, but social engagements – most on hold anyway because of the pandemic – are usually cancelled after the death of a senior member of the royal family unless in aid of charity.

Family mourning for the Queen Mother in 2002 lasted three weeks.

National mourning

The British government decides on the length of any national mourning, which usually lasts until the day after the funeral.

A two-minute silence could take place across the UK, including Northern Ireland, as it did for the Queen Mother on the day of her funeral.

Queen may address the UK 

Queen Elizabeth may record a televised speech to the UK in tribute to her husband, just as she did for the Queen Mother in 2002, but it will depend on how she is feeling.

The rest of Philip’s family are likely to release their own statements about the royal patriarch in the coming days.

The royal family’s website is honouring the duke with memorial pages.

Online book of condolence

An online book of condolence has been opened on the royal family’s official website instead of traditional books for people to sign around the UK because of the pandemic.

Television and media

British TV channels scrapped their schedules to make way for an evening of tributes, and news of Philip’s death made headlines around the world.

After Diana's death
TV broadcasters gathering outside Buckingham Palace in preparation for the funeral of Diana, Princess of Wales in 1997. Photo: Rebecca Naden/PA

Scores of broadcasters gathered near Buckingham Palace to report on developments.

The funeral is expected to be televised live by the BBC and other broadcasters.

Coffin at rest

Traditionally, the coffin would have been moved to the Chapel Royal at St James’s Palace to remain at rest for several days, but at present it remains at Windsor Castle.

It is unlikely to be moved away from Windsor for fear of drawing crowds.

Queen Elizabeth retreated to Windsor for the lockdown period so events will undoubtedly be focused there instead.

Duke of Edinburgh death
A young girl looks at flowers at Cambridge Gate at Windsor Castle, Berkshire, following the announcement of the death of Prince Philip. Photo: Victoria Jones/PA

The British monarch and the royal family will pay their respects in private, as will household staff.

Philip’s children are likely to hold a private vigil at some stage around the coffin if restrictions permit.

Behind the scenes

The funeral was due to have a strong military presence in recognition of Philip's naval career and his links with the armed forces.

But the prospect of creating a spectacle that could potentially attract hundreds of thousands of people means there is no longer expected to be a military procession in London or any processions through Windsor.

A military involvement is expected to take place within the grounds of Windsor Castle.

Those servicemen and women taking part will rapidly begin their preparations, from practising routines to polishing helmets and swords.

Military rehearsals
Early morning rehearsals by the military for the Queen Mother’s funeral. Photo: Stefan Rousseau/PA

Royal dressers will be fastidiously choosing and preparing black mourning ensembles.

Local police will be tasked with dealing with the security needed in the days ahead, and preventing mass gatherings.

Lying in state

Philip’s coffin will not lie in state.

This has long been reported as the plan but, amid the Covid-19 pandemic, has the added benefit of freeing the British government and the royal household from a series of logistical nightmares.

The Queen Mother – the last British sovereign’s consort to die – lay in state in Westminster Hall, allowing hundreds of thousands of people, who queued for hours, to file past to pay their respects.

But Philip always insisted he did not want this honour.

The Queen Mother's lying in state
The Queen Mother’s coffin lying in state in Westminster Hall. Photo: John Stillwell/PA


Prince Philip is expected to be buried in the Royal Vault in St George’s Chapel on the same day as the funeral.

This interment service will be private, attended by the Queen and senior members of the royal family.

No memorial service

In accordance with Philip’s wishes, there will be no official memorial service.

This might change, however, because of the scaled-back funeral – but only with the Queen’s agreement.

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