The funeral service for Prince Philip could “open old wounds” with William and Harry, says Royal expert Julia Melchior in an interview.
After the death of Prince Philip (1921-2021) on April 9th at Windsor Castle, the funeral will also take place in Windsor on Saturday 17th April. ZDF will broadcast the farewell ceremony for the husband of Queen Elizabeth II (94) from 3:10 p.m. to 5:08 p.m. live from Mainz and London.
Royal expert Julia Melchior will comment on “The memorial service for the Duke of Edinburgh”. In an interview with the news agency “spot on news”, she promised a “visually stunning and dignified event”. And although she “does not expect emotional outbursts” from the royal family, “saying goodbye to her grandfather could open old wounds to William and Harry”.
What can viewers expect in the program “ZDF special: The funeral service for the Duke of Edinburgh”?
Melchior: The BBC delivers the pictures from Windsor Castle and Norbert Lehmann and I comment from the studio in Mainz. There is also a live connection to the London correspondents Diana Zimmermann and Andreas Stamm. We are not allowed to enter due to Corona and the quarantine conditions. Live reporting on site is also not desired by the royal family. Crowds should be avoided at all costs. There will be no procession through Windsor either. The royal funeral party will not leave the grounds of Windsor Castle, so onlookers in Windsor will not be able to see anything. The only pictures of the celebrations are provided by television.
How close will the BBC get?
The cameras keep a respectful distance and certainly do not provide close-ups of the grieving queen. But I firmly assume that it will be a very visually powerful and dignified event, although only 30 participants are allowed to take part in the funeral service, i.e. the closest family circle. The farewell will be all the more private and atmospheric.
Will there be pictures of Prince William and Prince Harry running after Prince Philip’s coffin?
There will definitely be pictures of the two brothers together. It is traditionally that the family members walk behind the coffin.
Are you expecting bigger surprises?
I think it will be a very solemn farewell. I don’t expect surprises or even emotional outbursts. Especially not on the part of the queen. Maintaining posture is one of her great virtues. We have only seen her once when she was moved to tears in public. That was when her ship Britannia, with which she has many private memories, was decommissioned in 1997. The royal family will maintain their composure at the funeral service. The two brothers will also have met before the ceremony, Prince Harry has been in London since the beginning of the week.
How will the pictures be reminiscent of Princess Diana’s funeral service?
The setting at Princess Diana’s funeral service was of course different. But at that time, Prince Philip was the great support for William and Harry. And when the two of them go after Philip’s coffin, they will surely remember the role he played after their mother’s death. Prince Philip was very close to Diana, they valued each other very much. Prince Philip was also the matchmaker who asked Prince Charles to explain himself to Diana Spencer. Philip had been very supportive of the wedding and had had a very trusting and fatherly relationship with her afterwards. In this respect, saying goodbye to their grandfather could open old wounds for William and Harry. But it’s also an opportunity for both of them.
What do you think of the pregnant Duchess Meghan not traveling to London with her husband, Prince Harry?
It’s better for everyone involved that she didn’t come along. Meghan would have gotten all the attention, even though it’s not about her now. The fact that Harry comes to the funeral services alone to say goodbye to his grandfather is also a symbol of the fact that he has to shoulder everything that relates to his origins alone, now and in the future. It’s not a partnership like William and Kate or Elizabeth and Philip. A wedge has been driven between Prince Harry and his family and I believe that the relationship between Duchess Meghan and his family has been irreparably damaged.
In the meantime, how will Duchess Meghan be in California? Will she be afraid that Harry will be influenced in London?
It’s just hard to imagine the royal family making the same mistake as Meghan in trying to manipulate Harry. It is actually much more about straightening out the allegations that are in the room, smoothing out the waves and taking the sharpness out of this conflict. Against this background, it is certainly very good that Meghan is not there and that the royals now have time to reflect on the royal family.
Is a reconciliation between Prince William and Prince Harry conceivable?
That is to be hoped for both, although it will certainly take time. But given the funeral, they’ll be able to shake hands. Her grandfather was a strong link in the history of the two princes. You have to manage to focus on the essentials, on what the family is, because they need each other.
What did Prince Philip want for his funeral service?
He didn’t want a lot of fanfare. He wanted a “one-day ceremony”, that is, a memorial service and burial on the same day. As was the case with Queen Mum in 2002. Corona turns the funeral service with royal ceremonies into a private farewell. But that, too, is entirely in his spirit. He never made a fuss about himself. But it was important to him that the military play a role. His active time in the Royal Navy had a huge impact on him and his honorary military positions were very important to him. He had also shown this when he retired in August 2017. His last act was with the Royal Marines, of which he was Captain General for years. In his trench coat, the then 96-year-old stood in the pouring rain in front of Buckingham Palace and said goodbye to the Royal Marines.
Will the grieving queen wear black and if so, how long?
The Queen has ordered two weeks of mourning for the royal family. General state mourning applies up to and including the day of the funeral. Whether and how long she will wear black is an interesting question. After Prince Albert’s death, Queen Victoria bore mourning for forty years until the end of her life. With Queen Elizabeth, whom we all only know in apple green or canary yellow, this is hardly imaginable. It would also be a shame if she only bore mourning because we love to see her in her colorful costumes and it is, to a certain extent, her trademark. Philip wouldn’t want to see her like that either.
Queen Elizabeth’s most famous looks
When will the Queen return to her professional life?
In the last few years it has already shifted down a gear and passed more and more to the next two generations. Nevertheless, she regards her office as given by God and will in any case exercise it until the end of life. This also includes official appearances. So we will surely see her again soon.
You can also find out more about Prince Philip in your new documentary “Prinzgemahle” (ZDF / Arte), which was actually planned to be broadcast on the occasion of his 100th birthday on June 10, 2021. It will be shown on Sunday (April 18) on ZDF History and can also be seen in the media library. What can the audience expect in it?
The documentary “Prinzgemahle” is about Prince Philip, Prince Albert, the husband of Queen Victoria, and Prince Claus, the husband of the former Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands (83). What the three prince consorts have in common is that they were Germans, that the queens had very happy marriages with them and that this played a major role in their successful reigns. There are three success stories in a totally ungrateful role.