Prince Charles has paid tribute to his “dear papa” as details of the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral plans emerged, including Prince Philip’s special request that his coffin be borne on a Land Rover.
Speaking at Highgrove, the Prince of Wales 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.”
Charles, offering a statement on behalf of members of the royal family, said that he already missed his father “enormously” but had taken solace from the worldwide reaction to Prince Philip’s death, aged 99.
Charles spoke after it was announced that Philip’s funeral would be held on Saturday, with the Duke of Sussex quickly confirming he would travel from California to attend. However Prince Harry’s wife Meghan, who is pregnant, will not be attending on the advice of her physician, a palace spokesperson announced.
It was also announced on Saturday evening that Boris Johnson would not attend the duke’s funeral, to allow for as many family members as possible to be present given coronavirus restrictions.
A specially modified Land Rover carrying the Duke of Edinburgh will be flanked by pall bearers drawn from the Royal Marines as it transports the coffin.
Prince Philip had a role in the design of the vehicle and had always wanted it to be involved in his funeral, a senior aide said.
Prince Charles’s statement also paid tribute to his father’s “remarkable, devoted service to the Queen, to my family and to the country, but also to the whole of the Commonwealth.”
He added: “He was a much loved and appreciated figure and apart from anything else, I can imagine he would be so deeply touched by the number of other people here and elsewhere around the world and the Commonwealth, who also, I think, share our loss and our sorrow.”
His comments followed a day of gun salutes throughout the UK and tributes from political leaders and royal families from across the world.
At Buckingham Palace, its flag flying at half-mast, a steady stream of well-wishers paid their respects, though the crowds were vastly slimmed down following warnings to stay away because of coronavirus restrictions.
From midday, batteries fired 41 rounds in cities including London, Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast, as well as from Royal Navy warships at sea. At the mouth of the Mediterranean, the Royal Gibraltar regiment also joined in the salute.
The government confirmed that the period of national mourning will continue until after the funeral. Separately, the Queen has decided that a two-week period of royal mourning will be observed by members of the royal family, who will undertake “appropriate engagements” while wearing black mourning bands.
Saturday’s funeral, it was announced by Buckingham Palace on Saturday, will be confined entirely to Windsor Castle, following an eight-minute ceremonial procession within the castle’s grounds.
Vastly reduced in scale due to the pandemic and to comply with current government public health guidelines, the funeral plans have been given final approval by the Queen and reflect current government advice, the palace said.
There will be no public access, although the service and short procession will be televised.
It will be a ceremonial royal funeral, as was the Queen Mother’s, and as befits Prince Philip’s senior royal status. The service, at St George’s Chapel, will commence at 3pm and will begin with a national one-minute silence.
From across the globe, tributes poured in throughout the day for the duke who made hundreds of overseas visits including 229 journeys to 67 Commonwealth countries.
Among those sending their thoughts were Spain’s king and queen, King Felipe and Queen Letizia, who sent a telegram forwarding “all our love and affection”.