The death of Prince Philip, the husband of Queen Elizabeth II, on Friday has set in motion a carefully orchestrated, days-long event that will culminate with his funeral.
Plans for a major royal death are made years in advance, though details are kept fiercely private and the coronavirus restrictions currently in place across the United Kingdom mean some aspects of the strategy have had to be altered.
It’s unclear how much of a hand Philip – who was formally known as the Duke of Edinburgh – played in the decision-making around his own funeral, but on Saturday, a palace spokesperson and royal official unveiled a plan for a low-key ceremony to take place on Saturday, April 17, and said it was in line with the duke’s wishes.
The event will retain the colorful traditions of a royal funeral but without the public engagement they usually entail.
Philip’s remains are at Windsor Castle, the royal residence just west of London, where he and the Queen had been living in recent months. He returned to the castle in mid-March for his final weeks, after being discharged from a hospital in London following heart surgery.
His body will lie in rest there ahead of his funeral at St. George’s Chapel, also on site. That arrangement is in line with royal custom and with Philip’s wishes, the officials said.
The proceedings will begin next Saturday at around 2:45 p.m. (9:45 a.m. ET), and the duke’s coffin will be led by a procession from Windsor Castle, with a band of grenadier guards, along with several leaders of military units, at its head.
A Land Rover will bear the duke’s coffin, a vehicle that he was often seen driving, in contrast to the usual chauffeur-driven luxury cars the royals travel in.
Philip’s family and members of several units of the British military will meet at Windsor Castle’s Quadrangle, ahead the procession, while in the nearby Horseshoe Cloister, a guard of honor and band from The Rifles, an army regiment, will receive the coffin to the National Anthem, “God Save the Queen.”
Commonwealth defense advisers from Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Trinidad and Tobago will be present at the Horseshoe Cloister.
The vehicle will pause at the steps of the chapel and a Royal Navy piping party will play “The Still,” a tune used to call people to attention, as a mark of respect, to call for silence or issue an instruction.
Charles, the Prince of Wales, and some members of the royal family may take part in the procession on foot, immediately behind coffin, together with staff from the duke’s household. It’s not yet clear where exactly the Queen will be during the procession.
After the coffin is taken into the chapel, there will be a national minute’s silence at 3 p.m., ahead of the ceremony.
A major royal death prompts expressions of mourning from many Britons. The deaths of Princess Diana and the Queen Mother in recent decades saw thousands fill streets across the country to commemorate their lives.
An official period of national mourning was announced on Friday following the duke’s death.
Gun salutes were fired across the UK at noon on Saturday in the duke’s honor, as well as in the Commonwealth country of Australia outside its Parliament House.
On Friday, Britain’s Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, said: “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.”
Flags on royal buildings will be flown at half-staff until 8 a.m. (3 a.m. ET) on the day following Philip’s funeral. That includes all of the UK’s “official” flags – the Union Jack, the flags of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, plus ensigns and ships’ colors.
Flags above most governmental buildings, including 10 Downing Street, have also been lowered. In Australia, flags were seen flying at half mast on the Sydney Harbor Bridge on Saturday.
Public tributes were included in the plans for Philip’s death, though they are likely to be disrupted by coronavirus-related restrictions on gatherings. Currently, outdoor gatherings of more than six people or two households are banned in England, with similar restrictions elsewhere in the UK.
On Friday, the College of Arms “regretfully requested that members of the public do not attempt to attend or participate in any of the events that make up the funeral.”
CNN’s James Frater, David Wilkinson and Lindsay Isaac contributed to this report.