The death of Prince Philip has raised a whole new batch of weighty questions for a royal family already in crisis mode. Codenamed “Operation Forth Bridge,” the process that comes after Philip’s passing comes on the heels of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s bombshell interview with Oprah Winfrey, in which the pair pointedly accused the core royals of being racist and making Meghan suicidal.
Buckingham Palace has previously downplayed the severity of Philip’s infection and pre-existing heart condition from the start, though that didn’t stop Meghan and Harry from being criticized for their interview airing while he was in the hospital. But according to Gayle King, they planned to delay it in the event of his death. “Just so you know, they had done that interview before Prince Philip went into the hospital,” she said last month. “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.”
So, now that Philip’s death has come to pass, what’s next? Here’s all we know about the consequences for the core royals, as well as Meghan Markle and Prince Harry.
Who is the next king or queen?
In a tradition dating back to Queen Victoria’s reign in 1840, the spouse of a king or queen is always classified as a prince or princess consort, not queen or king. That means the line of succession will carry on as planned, with Philip’s son, Prince Charles, taking the throne upon his 94-year-old mother’s death. His wife, Camilla Parker Bowles, will then become princess consort. (Philip, who long disapproved of his relationship with Bowles, just so happened to die on the pair’s wedding anniversary.) Next up after Charles is Prince William, followed by his children Princess Charlotte and Princes George and Louis.
When is the funeral?
Philip will lie at rest in Windsor Castle before a royal ceremonial funeral at St. George’s Chapel. The palace has “regretfully requested that members of the public do not attempt to attend or participate in any of the events that make up the funeral.” And while the pandemic has naturally altered prior plans for thousands to gather in London and Windsor, though many have already gathered at Windsor Castle and Buckingham Palace to pay their respects. (The palace is urging well-wishers to instead send a virtual message of condolence, which “will be passed onto members of the Royal Family, and may be held in the Royal Archives for posterity.”)
Presumably, Philip would have been pleased with a pared-down affair; he reportedly requested a “no fuss” military funeral.
Will Harry and Meghan attend?
The palace is set to release a full outline of the funeral on Saturday, but the reduced guest list will likely be up to the queen. (Funerals for non-royals are currently restricted to 30 people or fewer in pandemic-era England, and considered “essential travel” under the U.K.’s current international travel restrictions.) Meghan and Harry’s presence would no doubt up the tension that skyrocketed after the pair sat down with Winfrey. They were careful to praise Harry’s grandmother, but the rest of the monarchy hardly came out looking great. (Philip also once reportedly told Harry not to marry Meghan, saying “one steps out with actresses, one doesn’t marry them.”)
It seems unlikely that Meghan, who’s currently pregnant with her second child (her due date still remains unknown), would make the trek. Harry, on the other hand, will reportedly “likely” cross the pond soon, where he would quarantine and get tested for Covid-19 ahead of the funeral. Neither has shared whether or not they’ve been vaccinated and technically aren’t eligible until April 15.
What about Prince William?
Likely attendees include Prince William, who’s been at odds with his brother for years. “The relationship is space,” Harry told Winfrey. “Time heals all things, hopefully.” An unnamed royal source has claimed that their conversation post-interview “didn’t end well.” William, they continued, “feels that Harry has gotten too big for his boots since moving to California—that success and Hollywood have gone to his head. He’s already accused [his brother] of putting fame over family after the big interview.”
Have Meghan and Harry publicly weighed in?
Around noon on Friday, the couple made a simple but symbolic move. The now bare-bones website of their organization Archewell now consists of a short statement: “In loving memory of His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh 1921-2021. Thank you for your service...You will be greatly missed.”
What’s next for the queen?
She’s entered a period of mourning that will likely last eight days, bringing a pause to her state affairs and appearance and the passage of new laws. Campaigning for next month’s elections in England and Scotland have also paused, and flags on royal residences and government buildings have been lowered to half-mast.