Royal Funeral Planning Applies to You Too

Apr 15, 2021 | 0 comments

Royal funeral planning has lessons for us commoners.

The British Royal Family will have a funeral for Prince Philip, the husband of Queen Elizabeth, on Saturday, April 17. Because of the coronavirus pandemic, there will be no public involvement in his funeral.

According to the BBC, coronavirus restrictions in England mean only 30 people, socially distanced, are allowed to attend funerals. Full details of the invited guests are yet to be announced, but it’s expected the majority of the reduced guest list will be family members. Prince Harry will attend but his wife Meghan, who is pregnant, will not make the trip from the US, on medical advice. It is the first time the Duke of Sussex has returned to the UK since stepping down as a senior royal last year.

Attendees are expected to wear masks in line with government advice. The pallbearers and clergy are not included in the number of attendees.

Prince Philip’s body is resting in a private chapel at Windsor Castle. He will be interred in a royal vault inside St. George’s Chapel, which is on the grounds of Windsor Castle. The duke is reported to have requested a funeral of minimal fuss and has not laid in state – where members of the public would have been able to view his coffin. The procession and service will be televised.

The duke will have a ceremonial funeral, rather than a state funeral. There is a subtle difference – state funerals are usually reserved for monarchs, although wartime Prime Minister Winston Churchill was given a state funeral. The Queen Mother had a ceremonial funeral in 2002, as did Diana, Princess of Wales in 1997.

On the day of the funeral, the coffin will be moved from the private chapel to the State Entrance of Windsor Castle. It will be placed on a modified Land Rover, that the duke himself helped design, to be carried the short distance to St George’s Chapel.

Even if you don’t want a fuss for your own funeral, there are lessons to be learned from watching royal funeral planning. We all need to plan ahead.

Royal Funeral Planning

The Queen film posterBack in 2014, I did a Friday Funeral Film review about the 2007 movie, The Queen. The film traces The Royal Family’s evolving response to the death of Princess Diana in 1997 and the planning and implementation of her funeral. She died in a fatal automobile crash in France a year after she divorced Prince Charles. As the mother of young princes William and Harry, there was confusion about how to hold a funeral for an ex-royal family member.

Royal funerals are ordinarily planned well in advance. In the film, Princess Diana’s funeral plans are based on Tambridge, the code name for The Queen Mother’s eventual funeral plans (she was still alive in 1997). It’s the only one that had been rehearsed and could be put together within a week’s time. Instead of 400 soldiers, 400 representatives of the Princess’ various charities could march behind the coffin. Instead of foreign heads of state and crown heads of Europe, the guests would include “actors of stage and screen, fashion designers and other celebrities.”

Whether you are a pauper or a prince or princess, this film shows that a public recognition of loss is needed, especially when the person is highly beloved. It also shows that it takes some coordination to create a funeral, big or small. The Queen is a great film to watch to help start a funeral planning conversation.

Need Help with Your Funeral Plans?

A Good Goodbye New CoverFor an excellent guide planning ahead for your eventual demise, get a copy of A GOOD GOODBYE: Funeral Planning for Those Who Don’t Plan to Die. It covers everything you need to know before you go.

A GOOD GOODBYE: Funeral Planning for Those Who Don’t Plan to Die provides the information, inspiration and tools to plan and implement creative, meaningful and memorable end-of-life rituals for people and pets. Learn how to save money, reduce family conflict, and avoid stress at a time of grief. Chapters include:

  • How Do I Work This? Event planning under pressure
  • A Grave Undertaking: Working with a funeral home
  • We Can Do That? New trends in death care
  • It’s My Party and I’ll Die If I Want To: Unique memorial ceremonies, remains disposal, and receptions
  • Amazing Grace: Religious customs for death

Just as talking about sex won’t make you pregnant, talking about funerals won’t make you dead – and your family will benefit from the conversation.

A Good Goodbye