Buckingham Palace has released the latest details for Prince Philip’s funeral on Saturday – including one logistical tidbit that raised eyebrows and sent the British press (and the anti-Sussex crowd) into a frenzy.
It was announced that Prince William and Prince Harry will not walk side-by-side during their grandfather’s funeral service. Many news outlets – champing at the bit for any opportunity to push the sibling rivalry narrative – spun this as yet another piece of evidence that Will and Harry are still on the outs after the latter’s televised tell-all sit-down with wife Meghan Markle, Duchess of Sussex, and Oprah Winfrey.
According to a royal press release, the brothers will walk in the second procession behind Prince Philip’s coffin alongside their cousin, Peter Phillips (son of Princess Anne, the queen’s daughter), and David Armstrong-Jones (son of the queen’s late sister, Princess Margaret).
Attempting to diffuse the tension this announcement has already caused in the press, a Buckingham Palace spokesman explained that it’s “a practical change rather than sending a signal. This is a funeral, and we are not going to be drawn into perceptions of drama. The arrangements have been agreed and represent Her Majesty’s wishes.”
This is a funeral, and we are not going to be drawn into perceptions of drama. The arrangements have been agreed and represent Her Majesty’s wishes.
However we shouldn’t need the royals’ PR team to confirm that, contrary to certain agendas, this revelation isn’t quite as juicy as first reported. Whether you remember Princess Diana’s televised funeral in 1997 or not, it should be noted that William and Harry (then aged only 15 and 12 years old, respectively) did not walk side-by-side then either. Their uncle, Charles, Earl of Spencer (Diana’s brother), walked between them behind the coffin. Royal rift or not, the precedent of the Windsor brothers walking apart had already been previously set. It’s perfectly normal for a royal family in the public eye to disperse their most famous members amongst other grieving relatives.
It also appears the queen is going above and beyond to make her grandson Harry as comfortable as possible during his no doubt awkward return, issuing an order that all 30 invited funeral attendees (capacity was limited due to COVID restrictions) wear civilian clothes. This means that Harry won’t run the uncomfortable risk of being the only Windsor not in military uniform. (Members of the royal family often don uniforms at public events due to their honorary military titles; however, Harry lost his titles when he and Meghan stepped back from royal duties in 2020.)
There’s no doubt that there are underlying tensions between William and Harry – how could there not be after what went down? It’s obvious that this family needs to sit down and have a serious heart-to-heart. Whether or not that actually happens remains to be seen. Accusations of neglected feelings and overt racism can’t be resolved in a day. But it’s clear that, in nothing else, Queen Elizabeth wants Saturday to be about Philip, and Philip only.
Harry, who currently resides in California with Meghan, son Archie and soon-to-arrive Baby Sussex No. 2, returned to the U.K. for the first time in more than a year to attend his grandfather’s funeral. Meghan – who is expecting a baby girl – did not join her husband on the trip as she “has been advised by her physician not to travel,” according to a royal spokesperson.