Ex-PM John Major: Prince Philip's funeral may help heal royal rift

Prasun Sonwalkar/London
Filed on April 11, 2021

The funeral is due to be held in Windsor on April 17.

Former British Prime Minister John Major, who was appointed ‘special guardian’ to Prince William and Prince Harry following the death of their mother, Princess Diana, in 1997, on Sunday said the funeral of Prince Philip would be an opportunity to mend royal rifts.

Prince Philip, 99, passed away on Friday, plunging a nation in grief with blanket coverage across the news media and public spaces. His funeral is due to be held in Windsor on Saturday, (April 17), by when Prince Harry is also expected to arrive from the United States.

The funeral will be held in the backdrop of critical remarks by Prince Harry and Meghan Markle about their life in the royal household during a television interview in March.

Major, who was PM between 1990 and 1997, told the widely-watched Andrew Marr Show on BBC: "The friction that we are told has arisen is a friction better ended as speedily as possible. They shared emotion. They share grief at the present time because of the death of their grandfather. I think (this) is an ideal opportunity. I hope very much that it is possible to mend any rifts that may exist."

Due to restrictions imposed by the raging Covid-19 pandemic, the funeral will not be open to the public but will be televised from the St George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle.

The Prince of Wales and members of the royal family will walk behind the coffin ahead at Windsor Castle. PM Boris Johnson has given up his presence at the event so that another member of the royal family could attend.

A minute's silence will be held across the United Kingdom (UK) to coincide with the start of the service in the chapel at 3pm local time. Despite appeals, members of the public have been laying flowers outside the castle. A spokesman for Windsor Great Park said the tributes would be removed "respectfully" and displayed within the castle grounds.

Major told Marr that he hoped Queen Elizabeth would be given time and space to grieve in privacy following the death of her husband of 73 years: “I know she is the monarch, I know she has responsibilities, but she has earned the right to have a period of privacy in which to grieve with her family”.

“I think it might be a nice legacy for Prince Philip if we began to return to the Queen some of the support that she has given to the country, to the Commonwealth, to the family and to the nation, during this difficult period of time. I think it is something we owe the Queen,” he added.

Justin Welby, archbishop of Canterbury, said during a service streamed online on Sunday that "for the Royal Family, as for every other, no words can reach into the depth of sorrow that goes into bereavement".

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