The coronavirus crisis now has Buckingham Palace courtiers thinking the unthinkable. What if the Queen or Prince Philip dies while the UK is in lockdown from the pandemic?
While Prince Charles has recovered, the news that he and a footman close to Her Majesty both tested positive for the virus has senior aides hastily reviewing funeral plans.
“All the plans that have been in place for decades might have to be thrown out,” a courtier said. “If Prince Philip dies I think there would be a general acceptance that he had a wonderful life and people would say he had a good innings.
“As he is at Windsor Castle and is due to be buried at St George’s Chapel within the castle grounds, it would be relatively easy to have a small family funeral.
“But if the Queen caught the virus and became a victim it would be mind-boggling. Every world leader would have been invited to her funeral at Westminster Abbey and thousands
if not millions of people would have lined the streets.
“It would all have to be cancelled for the safety of everyone concerned. She too would have to have a small service, then a big memorial service at a later date when it’s safe. It would be a terrible blow of course, but there is just no alternative in the current situation.”
The Queen, who turned 94 on April 21, and the duke, 99 in June, are currently in lockdown at their private apartments in the castle, being looked after by a skeleton staff.
A footman who walked the Queen’s dogs tested positive, and other staff have been sent home with symptoms.
“You can’t help feeling they should have acted earlier to isolate her,” one royal insider said.
“But she probably wanted to keep calm and carry on herself, making it very difficult for her doctors.”
The Queen’s funeral, which has the code name London Bridge, has been planned for years. Under normal circumstances there would have been 10 days of mourning between her death and the funeral as Prince Charles toured the UK as the new king.
“He clearly wouldn’t be able to do that,” said the source.
Wherever the Queen died, she would have been taken to Buckingham Palace to lie in state. After the funeral at Westminster Abbey she would have been taken on a slow ride in a state hearse to Windsor through packed streets as millions of the public paid their respects.
Her final resting place will be the King George VI Memorial Chapel at St George’s Chapel where her parents are buried. If Prince Philip dies first, his coffin will be kept until they can be buried together.