Windsor, England (CNN) – Grief and loss have a way of bringing families together and it seemed like it did yesterday.
What we are witnessing is a monarchy that adapts and evolves in real time. It is a delicate period for the United Kingdom, which is frankly not so united at the moment. Calls for independence have not left Scotland, episodes of violent unrest have erupted in parts of Northern Ireland in recent weeks and England is facing some sort of identity crisis after Brexit.
Ceremonial departures can help stabilize the ship.
The Queen will undoubtedly continue, as she always has, due to her undying commitment to duty and service. She will always define the monarchy as a symbol of unity and continuity. But we also see senior members of the royal family congregating around her in Philip’s absence.
He will help deal with situations as he did, alongside his older son William, when Harry and his wife Meghan revealed they wanted to step down from royal duties.
Seeing the brothers come together despite the current differences was extremely important. Harry doesn’t need to return to his royal role, but they need to mend their relationship and William needs someone to confide in. That person must be Harry – the only person who really understands William. Catherine may be William’s wife, but Harry has gone through difficult times with his brother. It includes royalty and the duties that go with it.
CNN royal historian Kate Williams, who joined us in Windsor, recalled that Harry’s life has been one of service and would likely have been touched by the many military references dotted throughout the funeral service .
Service would have affected the Duke of Sussex because of his two missions in Afghanistan, and “everything he did for veterans with the Invictus Games. He always wanted to be in service,” Williams said. She added that Harry had hoped to create something of a flexi-royal function – a system used by the European royals – and perhaps that could be explored in the future. Either way, Williams said, “Harry’s support is so important to the monarchy and it is so needed.”
The challenge is how the clan is preparing for the next generation of monarchy. The Queen remains incredibly popular and the system is safe as long as she is on the throne. They must find a way for Charles’ reign to be held in high regard as well, and that will require the help of his two sons.
A mourning queen
How Meghan honored Philip from afar
Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, who is pregnant with the couple’s second child, had wanted to attend the Saturday service but was advised her doctor not to travel to England. However, she wanted to pay tribute to him and sent a wreath made up of locally sourced flowers and a handwritten note from the couple. A spokesperson for the Duke and Duchess of Sussex said on Saturday she was watching from her home.
The British Prime Minister was unable to attend the funeral. He did it instead.
Boris Johnson attended the funeral from his country residence in Checkers, a Downing Street spokesperson confirmed on Saturday. He was unable to attend the service – as would be expected under normal circumstances – due to the pandemic. The number of mourners present was limited to just 30 to stay in compliance with current government restrictions on coronaviruses. Instead of his presence, he kept a minute of silence as the service began at the gate of his property in memory of the Duke and posted a photo of the tribute of the moment on Twitter.
IN PICTURES: FAREWELL FROM PHILIP
Prince Philip was laid to rest during an intimate service at St George’s Chapel, which is within the grounds of Windsor Castle. By royal standards, service was a relatively low-key affair. The ceremony was limited to 30 people, in line with England’s current coronavirus restrictions.
It was preceded by a ceremonial procession in which members of his family and several of his closest associates walked behind the coffin as the service was littered with references to the Duke’s close relationship with the military.
The Archbishop of Canterbury personalized a prayer for the Duke of Edinburgh, paying homage to his enduring duty and service to the monarchy and beyond.
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