Boris Johnson will not attend Prince Philip's funeral so family member can have seat

10 April 2021, 21:10 | Updated: 10 April 2021, 21:12

Boris Johnson will not attend the Duke of Edinburgh's funeral
Boris Johnson will not attend the Duke of Edinburgh's funeral. Picture: PA

By Kate Buck

Boris Johnson will not attend the Duke of Edinburgh's funeral to allow as many family members as possible to go amid Covid-19 restrictions, Downing Street has confirmed.

The Prime Minister was understood to have been expected to attend the ceremony for Prince Philip by the royals, but did not wish to take one of the 30 seats available.

The duke's funeral will take place in Windsor Castle on April 17, but it will be unlike typical royal send-offs, with the public being told to stay away because of the pandemic.

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A No 10 spokesman said: "As a result of the Coronavirus regulations, only 30 people can attend the funeral of HRH The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.

"The Prime Minister has throughout wanted to act in accordance with what is best for the royal household, and so to allow for as many family members as possible will not be attending the funeral on Saturday".

Read more: 'Ceremonial' funeral for Prince Philip to take place next Saturday

The duke's funeral will take place in Windsor Castle on April 17
The duke's funeral will take place in Windsor Castle on April 17. Picture: PA

Buckingham Palace announced that Philip's ceremonial royal funeral will take place on April 17 in St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle, and a national minute's silence will be observed as it begins at 3pm.

The royal funeral like no other, with the Queen and her family following guidelines and wearing face masks and socially distancing as they gather to say their final farewell.

The Prince of Wales on Saturday paid tribute to his "dear Papa" on Saturday, highlighting his "remarkable, devoted service to the Queen".

Read more: Countess of Wessex praises 'amazing' Queen as she leaves Windsor Castle

Read more: Prince Philip 1921- 2021 - Her Majesty's 'Strength and Stay'

Speaking from his Gloucestershire home of Highgrove on behalf of the royal family, Charles said: "I particularly wanted to say that my father, for I suppose the last 70 years, has given the most remarkable, devoted service to the Queen, to my family and to the country, but also to the whole of the Commonwealth."

He added: "As you can imagine, my family and I miss my father enormously," and said he would be "deeply touched" by the people around the world sharing "our loss and our sorrow".

The prince said: "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, 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."

While Charles spoke for the family, his siblings visited the Queen - with the Duke of York and Princess Royal spotted at Windsor.

The Earl and the Countess of Wessex spent around an hour with the Queen at the castle, with a tearful Sophie telling reporters as she left: "The Queen has been amazing."

On Friday the Prime Minister paid tribute to the 'extraordinary life' of the Duke of Edinburgh.

Philip pictured a month before his 1947 wedding to the Queen, then Princess Elizabeth
Philip pictured a month before his 1947 wedding to the Queen, then Princess Elizabeth. Picture: PA

In a statement outside Downing Street, Boris Johnson said: "It was with great sadness that a short time ago I received word from Buckingham Palace that His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh has passed away at the age of 99.

"Prince Philip earned the affection of generations here in the United Kingdom, across the Commonwealth and around the world.

"He was the longest serving consort in history, one of the last surviving people in this country to have served in the second world war at Cape Matapan, where he was mentioned in despatches for bravery

"And in the invasion of Sicily, where he saved his ship by his quick thinking and from that conflict he took an ethic of service that he applied throughout the unprecedented changes of the post war era.

Prince Philip and the Queen were married for 73 years
Prince Philip and the Queen were married for 73 years. Picture: PA

"Like the expert carriage driver that he was he helped to steer the royal family and the monarchy so that it remains an institution indisputably vital to the balance and happiness of our national life.

"He was an environmentalist, and a champion of the natural world long before it was fashionable.

"With his Duke of Edinburgh awards scheme he shaped and inspired the lives of countless young people and at literally tens of thousands of events he fostered their hopes and encouraged their ambitions.

"We remember the Duke for all of this and above all for his steadfast support for Her Majesty the Queen.

"Not just as her consort, by her side every day of her reign, but as her husband, her “strength and stay”, of more than 70 years.

"And it is to Her Majesty, and her family, that our nation’s thoughts must turn today.

The Earl and Countess of Wessex pictured leaving Windsor Castle the day after the Duke of Edinburgh died
The Earl and Countess of Wessex pictured leaving Windsor Castle the day after the Duke of Edinburgh died. Picture: PA

"Because they have lost not just a much-loved and highly respected public figure, but a devoted husband and a proud and loving father, grandfather and, in recent years, great-grandfather.

"Speaking on their golden wedding anniversary, Her Majesty said that our country owed her husband “a greater debt than he would ever claim or we shall ever know” and I am sure that estimate is correct.

"So we mourn today with Her Majesty The Queen we offer our condolences to her and to all her family and we give thanks, as a nation and a Kingdom, for the extraordinary life and work of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh."