Exiled Prince Harry will attend, but wife Meghan to skip Prince Philip’s funeral

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Harry to attend Prince Philip’s funeral without wife Meghan Markle

Exiled Prince Harry will travel from the USA to the United Kingdom to attend the funeral of his grandfather Prince Philip, who died at age 99 on Friday,  but his wife will not accompany him for the royal ceremony that has been pared down due to Covid-19 restrictions, according to reports in the UK media.

This will be Harry’s first return home since he and his wife, Meghan Markle, stepped away from the royal family last year.

The funeral of Queen Elizabeth II's husband, Prince Philip, will take place next week, Buckingham Palace announced on Saturday. Government guidelines restrict mourners to just 30 people and close attention has been paid to the pruned guest list for the funeral, particularly whether the duke's grandson Harry would attend.

Palace officials confirmed he would but his American wife, Meghan, who is pregnant with their second child, had been advised against travelling from the United States on medical grounds.

The couple, who quit frontline royal duties last year, have launched a series of broadsides against the royals, including accusing them of racism, and of failing to treat Meghan's mental health.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will also not be attending the funeral because of Covid restrictions, Downing Street said.

"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," a spokesperson said.

Prince Charles, 72, the eldest son of Prince Philip paid Queen Elizabeth II  and heir to the throne, paid a heartfelt tribute to his father : "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," he added.

"It will sustain us in this particular loss and at this particularly sad time."

The Duke of Edinburgh - the 94-year-old queen's husband of 73 years -- died peacefully on Friday just two months short of his 100th birthday. Britain has announced eight days of national mourning after the death with flags flying at half-mast.

Royal officials said his funeral, which will be televised, will take place at 1400 GMT on Saturday, April 17 in St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle, west of London. It will be preceded by a national minute's silence.

Gun salutes

Gun salutes earlier echoed around the United Kingdom on Saturday as the armed forces paid solemn tribute to the duke.

The coordinated 41-round volleys to the former Royal Navy commander were fired at a rate of one per minute from 12:00 (1100 GMT) in London, Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast, as well as at naval bases, from warships at sea, and in the British territory Gibraltar.

Similar salutes -- the most according to military protocol – were also held in Canberra and Wellington, as the Queen is head of state in Australia and New Zealand.

At the Tower of London, a crowd of more than 100 onlookers kept a respectful silence as they watched the Honourable Artillery Company fire shots on the banks of the River Thames.

Sporting events, including Premier League football matches, English county championship cricket and the Grand National horserace, held silences as part of worldwide tributes.

The death of the duke, the longest serving royal consort in British history, is a profound loss for the Queen, who once described him as her "strength and stay" throughout her long reign.

Flags at half-mast

Flags were flying at half-mast on government buildings and will do so until the morning after his funeral.

The well-rehearsed protocol for the duke's death, codenamed "Forth Bridge,"  has been changed because of the coronavirus pandemic, cancelling public events to avoid crowds. Parliament will be recalled on Monday for lawmakers to pay tribute, but the duke will not lie in state.

There will not be any military processions either.

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