Queen to attend Philip’s memorial service, Palace says

The monarch, who has admitted she has trouble moving, will take her seat in Westminster Abbey in remembrance of her husband.

29 March 2022

The Queen will attend the memorial service for the Duke of Edinburgh, Buckingham Palace has said.

The monarch, 95, has rallied to make an appearance and lead her family at the high-profile and personally significant occasion in honour of husband Philip.

She made the final decision on Tuesday morning, hours before she was due to travel from Windsor Castle to central London, having been determined to be at Westminster Abbey if her mobility allowed her.

It is a poignant occasion for the Queen to remember her husband of 73 years among family and friends, after the limitations imposed on the duke’s funeral during the pandemic.

A Palace spokesman said: “The Queen is currently intending to attend the service this morning.”

The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh
The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh pictured at Windsor during the pandemic (Steve Parsons/PA)

While plans could change before the start of the service at 11.30am, preparations will now be in full swing for the monarch’s appearance.

The duke’s relatives, friends, colleagues and his charities and patronages are gathering to pay a more fulsome tribute to the man whose funeral last April was only attended by 30 of his loved ones.

Special arrangements have been put in place for the Queen’s comfort, with the service limited to 40 minutes and the monarch sitting in one of the Canada chairs but with an additional cushion.

The difficulty for the Queen was understood to be whether the monarch would be able to walk to her seat.

BBC cameras are likely to avoid filming the monarch as she makes her way through the back of the Abbey via Poets’ Corner – a shorter route to place in the Lantern.

Traditionally, the Queen used to arrive at the Great West Door, and walk the length of the church, through the Nave and the Quire.

Platinum Jubilee
The Queen on the eve of her jubilee (Joe Giddens/PA)

But, in October, when she attended the Royal British Legion centenary service using a walking stick, she arrived at Poets’ Yard, entering via Poet’ Corner.

The monarch has only attended one major event with the public since concerns were raised about her health in October when she spent a night in hospital undergoing tests and she was put on doctors’ orders to rest.

Seven weeks ago, on February 5, on the eve of her Platinum Jubilee, she hosted a reception at her private Norfolk residence, Sandringham House, for local charity workers, former estate staff and fellow Women’s Institute members.

Tuesday’s service will be the Queen’s first major official engagement outside one of her homes for five and a half months, since she travelled to Cardiff to deliver a speech at the Welsh Senedd on October 14.

She pulled out of attending the Commonwealth Day service at the abbey earlier this month, a significant date in the royal calendar given the family of nations’ importance to the monarch.

On that occasion it is understood mobility issues for the Queen, who now sometimes walks with a stick, and the need to provide for her comfort prevented her from joining senior royals and the congregation.

Many of her light duties are now carried out by video calls, and the nation’s longest reigning sovereign, who turns 96 in three weeks, said during a recent in-person audience: “Well, as you can see, I can’t move.”

The Queen faced a bout of Covid in February, but has since recovered.

Questions will remain over her attendance during the jubilee weekend – a busy four-day extravaganza with a pop concert, church service, pageant and Trooping the Colour.

Garden Party at Buckingham Palace
Philip’s life and legacy will be remembered at Westminster Abbey (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

The duke is to be remembered as a “man of rare ability and distinction” at the abbey, with the event featuring elements he planned for his own funeral which were forbidden due to Covid-19 restrictions.

Gold Duke of Edinburgh’s Award holders and members of the youth UK Cadet Force associations will line the steps of Westminster Abbey as guests arrive.

The duke’s wishes for the congregation to sing the rousing hymn Guide Me, O Thou Great Redeemer, and for clergy from Windsor, Sandringham and Balmoral to play a special part, will finally be granted on Tuesday.

More than 20 members of the royal family including the Prince of Wales, the Duchess of Cornwall and the Cambridges will join nearly 30 foreign royals including the King and Queen of Spain and Prince Albert of Monaco.

It is understood some of Philip’s older great-grandchildren may attend, giving the youngest generation of royals the chance to honour their great-grandfather.

Among those seated in the abbey will be the Duke of York, despite Andrew paying millions out of court earlier this month to settle a civil sexual assault case.

He will arrive alongside his daughters Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie, and their husbands Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi and Jack Brooksbank.

In the 1,800-strong congregation will be Prime Minister Boris Johnson and wife Carrie, Philip’s wider family and friends, and 500 representatives from his patronages and charities.

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