Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II has returned to royal duties four days after her husband Prince Philip – the Duke of Edinburgh’s death on April 9. The 94-year-old monarch hosted an audience with Earl Peel for his retirement as he formally stepped down as Lord Chamberlain, in charge of organising royal ceremonies. During a private event held at Windsor Castle on Tuesday, the Queen accepted her former royal aide’s wand and office insignia.
“Earl Peel had an audience of The Queen today, delivered up his Wand and Insignia of Office as Lord Chamberlain and the Badge of Chancellor of the Royal Victorian Order and took leave upon relinquishing his appointment as Lord Chamberlain, when Her Majesty invested him with the Royal Victorian Chain,” read the details in the Court Circular, a daily list of the official events attended by the Queen and the royal family.
While the UK’s national mourning after the passing of Prince Philip last Friday will run until the morning after his funeral at St George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle on Saturday, the royal family is observing two weeks of mourning.
A royal official said members of the family would continue to undertake engagements “appropriate to the circumstances”.
Over the weekend, Prince Andrew – the Queen’s son, said his father’s death had left a “huge void” in his mother’s life. Earl Peel would have overseen the funeral arrangements – referred to as Operation Forth Bridge – before handing responsibility to his successor a week before his death.
Former MI5 spy chief Baron Parker has been in place as the new Lord Chamberlain since April 1 and will be in overall charge of Saturday’s funeral.
Coronavirus lockdown measures mean only 30 people are able to attend the Royal Ceremonial event, which will include the Queen’s close family. Inside the chapel, the royal family will wear face masks and keep to social distancing rules.
Under the plans released by Buckingham Palace, the Duke of Edinburgh’s coffin will be carried to the chapel on a specially-modified Land Rover, which he helped to design.
His eldest son, Prince Charles – the Prince of Wales – and members of the royal family will take part in the procession on foot, immediately behind the coffin, together with staff from Prince Philip’s household.
Prince Harry has flown in from the US for his grandfather’s funeral. He, and older brother Prince William, had released their tribute statements reflecting on the late Duke’s service as the longest-serving monarch’s consort in British history.
William said the Duke’s “century of life was defined by service – to his country and Commonwealth, to his wife and Queen, and to our family”.
“Like many of you who have lost a loved one or grandparent over the pain of this past year, he was my grandpa: master of the barbecue, legend of banter, and cheeky right ’til the end,” said Harry.