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Meghan Markle Will Not Join Prince Harry at Prince Philip's Funeral

Alyssa Bailey
·8 min read
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Early on April 9, the Palace announced that Prince Philip, Prince Harry's grandfather, passed away peacefully at 99. The news came out at 4 AM California time, where Prince Harry and Meghan Markle live. No family member made any personal statement immediately after the news was revealed, and a funeral date has not been set yet. According to the Palace, “further announcements will be made in due course.”

But with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and international travel restrictions, it was unclear whether or not the Duke and Duchess of Sussex will fly back to England in the wake of Prince Philip's death or if both will attend his funeral. On Saturday, the day after Prince Philip's death, royal reporter Omid Scobie confirmed that Prince Harry will attend his grandfather's funeral, but Meghan will remain at home because of how far along she is in her pregnancy.

"Prince Harry will attend his grandfather’s funeral on Saturday (following all U.S. and U.K. Covid-19 protocols in the process)," Scobie wrote. "A source adds that Meghan, who is heavily pregnant, made "every effort" to travel but didn’t receive medical clearance from her physician."

Here, everything we know so far about their plans—and the hurdles they face with deciding whether to travel during a pandemic.

International travel is still very restricted in the U.K. due to the coronavirus pandemic.

At this point, international travel is set to reopen in the United Kingdom on May 17 under a traffic light system, with countries categorized based on their COVID-19 risk level. Currently, U.K. residents needed to fill out a permission to travel form, citing a valid reason to leave the country, according to the British government's website.

The U.K is under heavy COVID restrictions right now, making a big family funeral not exactly sanctioned: In England, citizens are advised to “only socialize indoors with people you live with or who are in your support bubble” and meet no more than “up to 6 people or 2 households” outside.

The government has guidelines for international travelers, who are subject to the same COVID-19 restrictions as U.K. citizens. “Before traveling to the UK, you must complete a passenger locator form and have proof of a negative COVID-19 test, unless you are exempt,” the government wrote on its site. “All arrivals will need to take a coronavirus (COVID-19) test on day 2 and day 8 of quarantining. Arrivals must book a travel test package. See the guidance on how to quarantine when you arrive in England.”

Meghan and Harry have not revealed if they've gotten COVID-19 vaccines yet and are technically not eligible until April 15.

California will open up COVID vaccine eligibility to all residents 16 and up on April 15. At this point, only Californians ages 50-64 or in priority groups (essential workers, those with pre-existing conditions, etc.) are able to get vaccines.

Meghan, 39, and Harry, 36, will officially become eligible for vaccines on April 15. According to the CDC, it is safe for those pregnant, like Meghan, to get vaccinated if they so choose.

The couple has not announced they've been vaccinated yet, and it's worth noting that with all the vaccines, there's a two-week delay until full protection from COVID-19 kicks in. In the case of two-shot vaccines like Pfizer or Moderna, Meghan and Harry will have to wait 17-25 days (Pfizer) or 24-32 days (Moderna) before receiving their second shot, then another two weeks before they have full protection.

California recommends non-vaccinated citizens postpone non-essential travel until after they are fully vaccinated. “If you must travel, get tested 1-3 days before travel, and 3-5 days after travel,” the state COVID site advises. “After travel, self-quarantine for 7 days, no matter what your test results were. If you didn’t get tested, self-quarantine for 10 days.”

Harry and Meghan posted a tribute to Philip hours after his death was announced.

The U.K. and British royal family have entered into an official period of mourning, set to last a month, according to Buzzfeed. While Meghan and Harry did not have a statement out immediately after Philip's death was announced, they posted a tribute to Philip on Archewell's homepage around noon. (The Duke and Duchess have no active social media accounts currently.) They wrote, “In loving memory of His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh 1921-2021. Thank you for your service... You will be greatly missed.”

The statement has completely taken over the Archewell site, similar to how the royal family's announcement of Philip's death is the only thing on its site.

Photo credit: archewell.com
Photo credit: archewell.com

Why the posting delay? It's worth noting that the Palace announced Philip passed away at 7 AM ET, so 4 AM in California, meaning the couple was likely asleep when the news broke.

Prince Philip's funeral will be much more intimate due to his wishes and COVID.

According to royal reporter Omid Scobie, Philip requested not to have a state funeral. His private funeral at St. George's Chapel will not be open to the public either, amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. A date has not been set for that yet. These choices minimize the risk of the royal family (and Meghan and Harry, should they travel) being exposed to COVID.

Scobie wrote, “In line with his wishes, Prince Philip will not receive a State Funeral and his body will not be Lying-in-State. Instead, the Duke will lie at Windsor Castle until his funeral in St George's Chapel. Due to pandemic, public have been ‘regretfully requested’ not to attend.”

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Harry and Meghan would've postponed the airing of their Oprah interview if Philip passed away before it was scheduled to go on.

Philip was hospitalized in February 2021 and released in mid-March after a successful heart procedure.

Gayle King revealed that had Philip passed away before the couple's Oprah interview aired on March 7, Harry and Meghan would've postponed its release. “Well, just so you know, they had done that interview before Prince Phillip went into the hospital,” King said in March. “If something, God forbid, had happened to him, the interview would not have run at this particular time. But the interview was done and was scheduled before he went into the hospital. But a lot of people have raised that point.”

Meghan and Harry have kept details about their relationship with Prince Philip largely private.

Harry and Meghan have not spoken much about their personal relationship with the Queen's husband, choosing to keep it private. Oprah did reveal the morning after their interview aired that Harry clarified to her that neither the Queen nor Prince Philip were part of "concerns and conversations" some in the royal family had "about how dark [Archie's] skin might be when he's born," as Meghan put it in the interview.

Philip was actually among the first royal family members to meet the couple's son. The Queen and Prince Philip met Archie on May 8, 2019, two days after he was born. Their meeting was documented. “It was such a lovely moment with Her Majesty. Everyone was so touched,” a source close to the couple told ELLE.com at the time. “It’s been such a magical time, and Meghan and Harry are so incredibly happy.”

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When Harry and Meghan announced their intentions to step back from the royal family in January 2020, Philip and the Queen were “devastated,” several in the family shared with royal reporters Omid Scobie and Carolyn Durand for their book Finding Freedom.

“The family is very private and bringing it into the public domain, when they were told not to, hurt the Queen,” a source explained to them. “It was laying out what the Sussexes wanted in a statement without consulting with Her Majesty first—and she’s the head of the institution.”

A year later, Meghan and Harry have permanently stepped back from their roles. Following their Oprah interview, the couple wants to start the healing process with their family “for their own health as much as anything else,” a friend shared with ELLE.com in March. “They felt they needed to have these conversations so they can move forward and highlight some important issues as well.”

Harry did speak warmly about his relationship with the Queen to Oprah in the couple's interview though: “I've spoken more to my grandmother in the last year than I have [in] many, many years,” he said. “My grandmother and I have a really good relationship and understanding, and I have deep respect for her.”

Meghan did as well, saying, “The Queen, for example, has always been wonderful to me. I mean, we had one of our first joint engagements together. She asked me to join her, and I went on the train. And we had breakfast together that morning and she gave me a beautiful gift and I just really loved being in her company, and I know we were in the car—yeah, she gave me some beautiful pearl earrings and a matching necklace—and we were in the car going between engagements. And she has a blanket that sits across her, her knees, for warmth and it was chilly and she was like, 'Meghan, come on,' and put it over my knees as well.”

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