Prince Philip: Rehearsals take place for Duke of Edinburgh's funeral

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Buckingham Palace said the plans "very much" reflected the duke's wishes

Military rehearsals have taken place for the Duke of Edinburgh's funeral.

Prince Philip, who died on Friday aged 99, will be remembered in a service at St George's Chapel in the grounds of Windsor Castle on Saturday.

The televised event will be carried out in line with Covid restrictions but there will be a military presence with personnel from the Royal Navy, Royal Marines, Army and RAF.

Buckingham Palace said the plans "very much" reflected the duke's wishes.

Members of the public have been asked to stay away from the castle, with the ceremony to take place behind its walls, and an online book of condolence has been opened.

It came as Buckingham Palace released previously unseen photographs of the Duke of Edinburgh, including one taken by the Duchess of Cambridge, of the duke and the Queen sitting with seven of their great-grandchildren.

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A new undated image shows the Queen and the duke with seven of their great grandchildren

Meanwhile, the Princess Royal reminisced about sailing in her younger years as she made her first in-person appearance at an official event since her father's death.

Anne appeared in good spirits as she met members of the Royal Yacht Squadron (RYS) on the Isle of Wight on Wednesday - a club Prince Philip was once admiral of.

In an Instagram message, Princess Eugenie paid tribute to her "dearest Grandpa", pledging to look after "Granny", the Queen, for him.

The Duke of Edinburgh's Award has also announced it is launching a new fund in memory of Prince Philip, which will give one million more young people the chance to take part in the programme he founded over the next five years.

Prince Philip is reported to have requested minimal fuss but his ceremonial royal funeral will have personal touches.

His coffin, which is lying at rest in the private chapel at Windsor Castle, will be carried the short distance to the separate St George's Chapel using a modified Land Rover that the duke helped to design.

It will be draped with his personal flag, which reflects his Greek heritage and his British titles, and his naval cap and sword will be laid on top of it.

The armed forces were important to the duke, who served in the Royal Navy, and they will play a part in his funeral, with military top brass present.

Servicemen and women have been carrying out rehearsals at the Army Training Centre Pirbright in Woking, Surrey.

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Soldiers from the Welsh Guards rehearsing
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A member of the Household Cavalry, The Life Guards preparing her uniform
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Members of the Household Cavalry, The Blues and Royals
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A member of the Coldstream Guards preparing his uniform

Among those rehearsing was Sergeant Bugler Jamie Ritchie, I/C Corps of Drums, Royal Marines, who will lead four buglers in playing the Last Post at the funeral, a role he said was an "honour and a privilege".

"We feel the pressure, but we're channelling that and we're using that and we're going to deliver an outstanding performance," he said, adding that as a former naval officer the duke was "relatable" to the Royal Marines.

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Sergeant Bugler Jamie Ritchie said it is an "honour and a privilege" to play the Last Post at the Duke of Edinburgh's funeral

Military rehearsals for the ceremonial procession have been held in Pirbright all week, with a full dress rehearsal expected to take place at Windsor Castle on Thursday.

The majority of the personnel gathered on Wednesday were in their Barrack dress as they practised parading, while bands rehearsed music including the national anthem, Jerusalem and I Vow To Thee, My Country.

Captain Gemma Darrington, operations officer for 27th Regiment, The Royal Logistic Corps, said "everything is made more difficult by Covid" but said organisers were doing everything to make sure "our people are as safe as possible", adding that personnel have been subject to Covid tests and social distancing is enforced.

She added personnel "know we're playing a part in history here and we do feel very privileged to be in that role".

There are two families who'll be taking part in the Duke of Edinburgh's funeral. His own and his much larger military family.

Some 730 members of the Armed Forces will be on parade at Windsor Castle on Saturday - including four military bands.

They've just completed their first full rehearsal on a parade ground in Pirbright, Surrey. Not all wearing their full ceremonial uniforms, but they've spent the past few days getting ready - with boots, buttons, instruments and swords polished.

They come from all branches of the Armed Forces the duke had close connections to.

Some have their own personal stories too. From a Royal Marines bugler who'll be wearing the medal he was awarded by the duke, to a soldier who received his first promotion from him when the duke visited troops in Iraq.

Many taking part never met him, but they're all united in honouring a man who embodied their values of service, discipline and loyalty. They see the duke as one of of their own.

Buckingham Palace says the funeral will be a celebration of his life. But the tunes being practised by the military bands - from Elgar to the hymn Jerusalem - signal that it'll also be a sombre occasion.

Throughout his long life Prince Philip took part in many military parades like this. Mostly as a representative or in support of the Queen. On Saturday it's his life and service that'll be the focus of attention for what will be his final parade.

The route from the state entrance of Windsor Castle to St George's Chapel will be lined with personnel from the Royal Navy, Royal Marines, The Highlanders, 4th Battalion Royal Regiment of Scotland and the Royal Air Force.

Guns will be fired by The King's Troop Royal Horse Artillery from the East Lawn throughout the procession.

Image source, PA
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Prince Philip served in the Royal Navy

The bands of the Grenadier Guards and Rifles Regiment, members of the Household Cavalry and a Royal Navy "piping party" will also be present, while pallbearers from the Royal Marines and other regiments and corps associated with the duke will carry his coffin.

The palace has announced that a national minute's silence will mark the start of the duke's funeral at 15:00 BST.

Some sporting fixtures have been rearranged as a mark of respect.

Who will attend?

Coronavirus restrictions in England mean only 30 people, socially distanced, are allowed to attend funerals, although pallbearers and clergy are not included in the number of attendees.

Details of the invited guests or family members are yet to be announced.

The Duke of Sussex will attend but his wife Meghan, who is pregnant, will not make the trip from the US, on medical advice.

The duke's long-standing close aide, his private secretary Brigadier Archie Miller Bakewell, will be one of the few, and possibly only, non-royals invited to attend the historic occasion.

ITV News will cover the funeral in a special programme, presented by Tom Bradby and Julie Etchingham and called Prince Philip - A Royal Funeral, between 13:15 and 16:30 on Saturday.

The BBC is planning to announce details of its coverage on Thursday.