Tampa Bay Times

Royal family grateful for support

- BY DANICA KIRKA

LONDON — Britain’s Prince Charles offered a heartfelt tribute to his “dear Papa,’’ on Saturday as Buckingham Palace announced the broad outlines of a royal funeral that will be attended by the family and broadcast to the world.

As Queen Elizabeth II and other relatives mourned, Charles offered a deeply personal video message saying the royal family was “deeply grateful’’ for the outpouring of support they’ve received following the death Friday of his 99-year-old father, Prince Philip. The heir to the throne said he was touched by the number of people around the world who have shared his family’s loss and sorrow.

“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 said, speaking from his southweste­rn England home of Highgrove. “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.’’

Philip’s royal ceremonial funeral will take place April 17 at Windsor Castle — a slimmed-down service amid the COVID-19 pandemic that will be entirely closed to the public. The palace insisted the royals would strictly adhere to national virus guidelines, measures that would entail mask wearing in an enclosed space and distancing. The palace declined to comment on specifics.

Philip, the queen’s husband of 73 years also known as the Duke of Edinburgh, took part in planning his own funeral and its focus on family was in accordance with his wishes. The duke also took part in designing the modified Land Rover that will carry his coffin.

“Although the ceremonial arrangemen­ts are reduced, the occasion will still celebrate and recognize the duke’s life and his more than 70 years of service to the Queen, the U.K. and the Commonweal­th,” a palace spokesman said Saturday while speaking on condition of anonymity in line with policy.

Prince Harry, Philip’s grandson who stepped away from royal duties last year and now lives in California, will attend the service at Windsor along with other members of the royal family. His wife Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, is pregnant and has been advised by her doctor not to make the long journey to the U.K.

Another no-show will be Prime Minister Boris Johnson, whose office said he would not attend because current coronaviru­s restrictio­ns limit funerals to 30 people, so by staying away that would “allow for as many family members as possible.’’

The palace appealed to the public not to gather in Windsor or at Buckingham Palace in London to pay their respects to Philip — advice that was roundly disregarde­d by many.

Earlier Saturday, military teams across the U.K. and on ships at sea fired 41-gun salutes to mark Philip’s death, honoring the former naval officer whom they considered one of their own.

Batteries in London, Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast — the capitals of the four nations that make up the United Kingdom — as well as other cities around the U.K. and the Mediterran­ean outpost of Gibraltar fired the volleys at one-minute intervals beginning at midday. Ships including the HMS Montrose, a frigate patrolling the Persian Gulf, offered their own salutes.

 ?? DOMINIC LIPINSKI | PA via Associated Press ?? Members of the Honourable Artillery Company fire a 41-round gun salute to mark the death of Prince Philip.
DOMINIC LIPINSKI | PA via Associated Press Members of the Honourable Artillery Company fire a 41-round gun salute to mark the death of Prince Philip.

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