Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh and husband of Queen Elizabeth II, who died last week at 99, was laid to rest at St. George’s Chapel on Saturday. The funeral, which was an intimate affair due to COVID-19 restrictions in the UK, was attended by only 30 members of the royal family, including the Queen, who sat alone. Special Correspondent Ryan Chilcote joins for more.
Special Correspondent Ryan Chilcote has been following today's funeral and tributes to Prince Philip.
Ryan, this was a day that would have had thousands of people on the streets, if not more, but that's not what we saw.
It isn't what we saw. And the reason for that is because of COVID-19 and the restrictions that continue in the U.K. And it was just five days ago that stores were allowed to open in the U.K. They've been closed for months, but there are still restrictions on funerals. No more than 30 people are allowed. So the royal family kept to that. There were 30 people inside the chapel. The queen had to sit by herself. No singing was allowed because the choristers are the only people that are allowed to sing.
So the royal family did all of this because that is the rules. And they obviously wanted to conform to the rules, particularly because this country's been in lockdown for so long and people have had to deal with so many deaths and in so many cases, alone, that I think that they felt that this was the appropriate way to do this.
Remember, more than 127,000 people have passed away from COVID since the pandemic began here in the U.K. And an awful lot of those people had to go through funerals without everyone that they would have liked to see at it.
And it's interesting to see that image of the queen by herself, because so many of the people that you're talking about who had to mourn their loved ones, couldn't have a funeral in any traditional sense of the word.
That's right. And, you know, the queen, I think it was remarkable in many ways. The queen is just four days from her 95th birthday. Prince Philip was 99. You know, they have been separated from many people for the length of the pandemic, sitting it out in Windsor Palace, perhaps not the worst place to be in lockdown, but nonetheless.
And the whole nation has just been through an extraordinary amount of pain because like in the United States, there have been an extraordinary number of COVID deaths. And perhaps unlike many places in the United States, in the U.K., at least, the restrictions continue. And it's still very difficult to gather in groups.
So right now in the U.K., you can have people at your home, but only in your backyard. They're not actually allowed to spend time inside of your home. And the number of deaths has really fallen off. So everyone's saying we can't wait to open up, but the government saying we have to be careful. This is going to go on, these restrictions, for another month or even two, because we can't let COVID come back in a big way.
Why does the monarchy still resonate with the British people?
It doesn't resonate with everyone, but I think it does resonate with the majority of the British people. And the reason for that is because they sort of co-associate themselves with being British, right? They do all of these things that are kind of the things that you would expect in the United States, a president to do. Kind of, sort of show the flag, if you will. They they do all of these activities.
Prince Philip, who was not king, right? He was husband of Queen Elizabeth. Even he, in his limited role, because he wasn't king, just husband of a queen, did 22,000 events he attended in his life. He was part of 680 organizations. So they really go out of their way to make sure that they are kind of being good statesmen and leading the country.
Witness today with the funeral, the fact that they stuck to the rules didn't have more than the 30 that the government allows. And I think that that's why they still resonate, because they sort of embody Britishness, if you will, and that is why they've been able to preserve the monarchy, I think, and also by staying out of politics, because that would be very unwelcome here in the UK.
Ryan Chilcote, thanks so much.
Thank you so much.
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