New York Daily News: MANHATTAN, NY – The royal funeral ceremony for Britain’s Prince Philip will take place on April 17 at Windsor Castle, scaled back due to the COVID-19 pandemic and completely closed to the public, a palace spokesman said on Saturday.

Grandson Prince Harry, who stepped away from royal duties last year, will attend, but his wife, Meghan Markle, the duchess of Sussex, who is pregnant with their second child, has been advised by her doctor to stay at their home in California.

Prince Charles released a video tribute to his late father on Saturday.

“My dear Papa was a very special person who I think, above all else, would have been amazed by the reaction and the touching things that have been said about him,″ Charles said from his southwestern England home of Highgrove. “And from that point of view we are, my family, deeply grateful for all that. It will sustain us in this particular loss and at this particularly sad time.”

Philip, also called the Duke of Edinburgh, who died at age 99 on Friday, took part in planning his funeral ceremony and designing the modified Land Rover that will carry his coffin, the palace spokesman said.

“Although the ceremonial arrangements are reduced, the occasion will still celebrate and recognize the duke’s life and his more than 70 years of service to the queen, the U.K. and the commonwealth,” the spokesman said.

Palace officials said the ceremony would be held in line with Britain’s COVID-19 guidelines that restrict the number of attendees to 30.

The palace appealed to members of the public not to gather at Windsor to pay their respects.

“While there is sadness that the public will not be able to physically be part of events to commemorate the life of the duke, the royal family asks that anyone wishing to express their condolences do so in the safest way possible,” the palace spokesman said. “The family’s wish is very much that people continue to follow the guidelines to keep themselves and others safe.″

Despite the royal request, mourners were visiting Windsor Castle and Buckingham Palace on Saturday, many leaving flowers to honor the late prince.

“He’s a massive loss to the country and to the world, I think, so we wanted to come and pay respects,” said Mike Williams, 50, who traveled to the palace from his home in Surrey, southwest of London. “I don’t know what it achieves, but it just felt like the right thing to do.”

Also Saturday, military batteries across the United Kingdom and on ships at sea fired 41-gun salutes to honor the former naval officer and husband of Queen Elizabeth, and in the commonwealth — a group of 54 countries headed by the monarch — Australia staged a salute outside Parliament in Canberra, and New Zealand was planning a tribute Sunday.

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