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Millions of viewers around world to watch as Britain falls silent in honour of Duke

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Prince Philip funeral: Palace releases order of service

The funeral of HRH The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh at 3pm in St George’s Chapel within Windsor Castle will be covered by major television networks, radio stations and streamed online. The last royal funeral to be extensively televised in the UK was Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother’s on April 9, 2002. An average of 5.1 million people watched BBC One’s coverage, while 2.7 million tuned to ITV. That event took place on a Tuesday morning, meaning the available viewing audience today will be significantly larger. The funeral service of Diana, Princess of Wales, on September 6, 1997, was watched by 19.3 million people on BBC One and 11.7 million on ITV.

It remains one of the most-watched live events in television history.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson will tune in to the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral from his country residence Chequers, in Buckinghamshire.

Mr Johnson gave up his seat in the chapel to allow a Royal Family member to attend – the pandemic limits the number of mourners to 30.

A No10 spokesman said he will observe the national minute’s silence, which will take place at 3pm to mark the start of the funeral, from the countryside retreat.

The Prime Minister had one of the largest television audiences for a political broadcast in UK history when he gave his address on January 4 this year announcing a new national lockdown.

It was watched by 25.1 million people across five channels.

The BBC and ITV are expecting huge audiences to watch their programmes of the Duke’s send-off, which will be anchored by their top presenters.

Windsor Castle

The funeral of the Duke of Edinburgh will take place in St George’s Chapel within Windsor Castle (Image: Alamy Stock Photo)

Huw Edwards will lead the BBC’s live coverage from Windsor Castle. He will take to the airwaves from 12.30pm until 4.20pm, after which he will reflect on the day’s events in an hour-long programme at 8.10pm on BBC Two.

The Welsh journalist will be joined by broadcaster Sophie Raworth and TV presenter and former Royal Marine JJ Chalmers throughout the afternoon.

Programmes on Radio 4 and Radio 5 Live, as well as on the BBC’s local stations, will also be dedicated to the funeral from 2pm to 4.10pm.

The BBC’s coverage of Prince Philip’s death last Friday aged 99, which led to the clearing of schedules on BBC One and BBC Two, resulted in a record number of complaints to the corporation.

Many viewers expressed their disappointment over the cancelling of programmes – and the broadcaster set up a dedicated webpage for viewers to lodge their dissatisfaction.

In a statement defending its “wall-to-wall” coverage, the broadcaster said: “We acknowledge some viewers were unhappy with the level of coverage given, and impact this had on the billed TV and radio schedules.

“We do not make such changes without careful consideration and the decisions made reflect the role the BBC plays as the national broadcaster, during moments of national significance.”

Meanwhile, ITV will cover the funeral with the programme Prince Philip – A Royal Funeral.

Tom Bradby, a close friend of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, will front the coverage from 1.15pm to 4.30pm, with Julie Etchingham from Windsor. 

ITV’s normal schedule will return from 4.30pm.

Sky News will also be broadcasting live coverage of the funeral from 12.30pm to 5pm.

Presenters Sarah Hewson, Dermot Murnaghan, Mark Austin and Anna Botting will front the channel’s coverage.

The funeral will draw in viewers eager to see Prince William and Harry reunite in public for the first time since the Duke of Sussex moved to the US last year with his wife Meghan and son Archie.

Broadcaster Sophie Raworth

Broadcaster Sophie Raworth will feature on BBC throughout the afternoon (Image: Getty)

A pregnant Meghan is unable to fly in for the occasion and will watch from their California home.

Peter Phillips, the Queen’s oldest grandchild, will walk between the feuding brothers in the procession, which begins at 2.40pm, when senior royals will follow behind the coffin on foot.

People will watch as one of Prince Philip’s final wishes will be granted – and his coffin is transported in the back of the modified Land Rover that he helped design.

The pandemic curtailed original plans for military processions through London or Windsor.

The Royal Family has asked members of the public not to gather at the castle or other royal residences – a request which will likely drive up TV viewing figures.

A reduced choir of just four singers will perform pieces of music chosen by Philip while guests will follow Covid-19 rules, such as wearing masks, social distancing and not singing.

Buckingham Palace said the plans for the funeral are in line with The Duke of Edinburgh’s personal wishes.

Heathrow Airport said no planes will land or take off for six minutes today to coincide with the national minute’s silence at 3pm.



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