What To Expect From Prince Philip's Memorial Service

When Prince Philip passed away in April 2021, the royal family was forced to hold a private, small funeral for him with only 30 guests in attendance. For such a public figure who spent decades in service to his nation, the idea of only 30 people attending the service seemed nearly impossible. To royal watchers, it was no surprise when Queen Elizabeth announced in December 2021 that a second service, dubbed a "Service of Thanksgiving," would be held for her late husband in the spring of 2022 (via Town & Country Magazine).


Once the date of March 29, 2022, was assigned to the event, many began wondering just who would attend and who would not. At the time of writing, Prince Harry has opted out, and royal watchers aren't entirely sure whether Queen Elizabeth's poor health will permit her to show up at the event (per the Daily Mail). Having said that, there are still plenty of people who will certainly be at the service, which should be an appropriate way to honor a man who gave so much to his country.

Prince Harry will not be in attendance

One major piece of news has been confirmed about Prince Philip's service: his grandson, Prince Harry, will not be in attendance (per the Daily Mail). This also means that Meghan Markle and the couple's two young children, Archie and Lilibet, will not be attending. 


It's actually not clear if Harry and his family will ever return to the United Kingdom, as the former royal has stated through his lawyer that he is reluctant to do so until he can be guaranteed he and his family will receive the proper protection. The couple issued an official statement about the matter, noting that though Harry is no longer a senior member of the royal family, he and his wife and children still receive constant threats against their safety. As they put it (via Town & Country Magazine), "The Duke and Duchess of Sussex personally fund a private security team for their family, yet that security cannot replicate the necessary police protection needed whilst in the UK. In the absence of such protection, Prince Harry and his family are unable to return to his home."


Sources close to Buckingham Palace have indicated the news is particularly upsetting to the Queen, who has yet to meet her namesake Lilibet. Princess Diana's former chef Darren McGrady told the Daily Mail, "The Queen will be devastated, and Princess Diana would, too, if she were here."

The service will take place at Westminster Abbey

When Prince Philip's funeral was held in 2021, his body was kept at Windsor Castle until the funeral at St. George's Chapel. As noted by the official statement released at the time, this was what Prince Philip wanted and also what is typical per royal tradition (via Town & Country Magazine). Only 30 guests were allowed to attend the ceremony, which meant everyone easily fit in the chapel.


By contrast, the Service of Thanksgiving will be held at Westminster Abbey, which is the typical spot for large and official royal events, including coronations and ceremonies. Per Britannica, the Abbey was originally a monastery, though it was renamed the Collegiate Church of St. Peter in Westminster by Queen Elizabeth I in the year 1560. Each new king or queen has been crowned in the Abbey all the way back to William the Conqueror, and Henry I was the first royal to have his wedding there in 1100. As such, it's an exceptionally appropriate place to celebrate and honor the life of Prince Philip. 

Queen Elizabeth might not be able to attend

While the rest of the royal family — along with hundreds of dignitaries around the world — are expected to be in attendance at the Service of Thanksgiving, there's one hugely important figure who might not make the event: Queen Elizabeth herself. The aging and beloved monarch has been suffering a series of health-related issues since she was hospitalized in October 2021, and many worry that she might not be able to walk or sit for the amount of time the ceremony will require.


As noted by the Daily Mail, the Queen was already forced to back out of the yearly Commonwealth Service owing to mobility issues. Royal biographer Penny Junor spoke to the publication about how Queen Elizabeth is doing these days and explained that while she's able to tackle any Zoom call that comes her way, other activities are harder. She said, "I think events where she is required to walk or go up any steps are not going to be feasible any more."

The service will be larger than Prince Philip's 2021 funeral

Only 30 guests attended Prince Philip's funeral in 2021 owing to restrictions that were in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The Daily Mail has noted that this year's Service of Thanksgiving should be attended by many more people, including friends and officials Philip met throughout his lifetime.


As shared by the Daily Mail, those who will attend reportedly include many royals from other countries, including King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia of Sweden, King Harald and Queen Sonja of Norway, and Spain's King Felipe and Queen Letizia. Additionally, the former Queen of the Netherlands, Princess Beatrix, will attend alongside her son King Willem-Alexander and his wife Queen Maxima, as will Prince Radu and Margareta, Custodian of the Crown of Romania. These royals and former royals will also be joined by Belgium's King Philippe and Queen Mathilde, as well as Denmark's Queen Margrethe.

After a lot of debate, Prince Andrew will be allowed to attend

There's one more member of the British royal family that some feared might miss the Service of Thanksgiving for Prince Philip: his son Prince Andrew, who has had quite the fall from grace since Virginia Giuffre accused him of sexual assault and emotional distress in her 2021 lawsuit (the case ultimately ended in an out of court settlement).


While the amount of the settlement has not been disclosed, many have weighed in on the fact that Andrew abruptly agreed to the move and its implications for his standing in general. As reputation lawyer Mark Stephens told the Daily Express, "The settlement has drawn a line under further humiliation of him but there's no way back for him now." As such, Stephens adds, it has seemed unlikely Andrew would opt to attend such a public service or even that he would be allowed in.

However, a few days ahead of the March 29 event, The Times announced that Andrew would attend the service, after all, making it his first public event since the lawsuit began.

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).