All the royal big guns are set to be at the Duke of Edinburgh‘s funeral this weekend.
But a very familiar face will be missing from the entourage.
Sarah, Duchess of York, will not be one of the 30 people allowed into St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle for the service. That’s despite her being the mother of two of the late Duke’s grandchildren.
The snub does not seem to have hurt Fergie’s feelings though. The Sun has reported that both she and her former husband Prince Andrew have been “by Her Majesty’s side this week”.
The pair are said to have been making the short drive from Royal Lodge to Windsor Castle, sometimes twice a day, to walk with the Queen and her new corgis.
Queen’s fondness for Fergie
The Queen is thought to think fondly of Sarah Ferguson, the mother of Princesses Eugenie and Beatrice – in stark contrast to her late husband.
Royal biographer Gyles Brandreth said Philip wanted “nothing to do” with Andrew’s ex-wife after she was infamously photographed having her toes sucked by a lover in the South of France.
According to Brandreth, Philip made no secret of the fact that he regarded the Duchess of York “simply beyond the pale” after the scandal, and found it ”truly bizarre” that his son continued to live with his ex-wife after their divorce.
In a piece for the Daily Mail, Brandreth said he spoke to the Duke about Fergie, to which he simply said he “didn’t see the point” in ever seeing her again.
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He reportedly would insist the Duchess was not at the family’s Scottish retreat at Balmoral when he was in attendance.
Not so the Queen.
“The Queen has always had a soft spot for Sarah and regards her as an excellent mother,” a source told The Sun.
“They have been going on short walks around the gardens with the Queen and her corgis. Sarah’s very much in the fold now that the Duke of Edinburgh has gone.”
Who made the guest list?
The Queen, accompanied by a lady in waiting, will wear a mask throughout proceedings and follow her husband’s funeral procession in her official Bentley, Buckingham Palace has revealed as it laid out the details of the ceremony.
The procession will include Prince Charles, Princess Anne, Prince Edward, Prince Andrew, Prince Harry, Peter Phillips, Prince William, Vice Admiral Sir Tim Laurence, The Earl of Snowdon, Philip’s personal protection officer, private secretary, two pages and two valets.
The 30 guests include the Duchess of Cornwall, all the Duke of Edinburgh’s grandchildren and their spouses, the children of the Queen’s sister Princess Margaret, and three of Philip’s German relatives — Bernhard, the hereditary prince of Baden; Donatus, prince and landgrave of Hesse; and Prince Philipp of Hohenlohe-Langenburg.
Countess Mountbatten of Burma, Penelope “Penny” Knatchbull, is also invited as one of Philip’s closest friends and carriage driving partner. Prime Minister Boris Johnson chose not to attend to allow as many royals and close friends to attend as possible.
No Fergie, no uniforms
The members of the royal family who will be attending the service have been told not to don military uniforms. To do so would have made things awkward for Prince Harry who has been stripped of his honorary military ranks.
The Duke of Sussex had faced the humiliating prospect of being the only senior male in the royal family wearing civvies.
Insiders involved in planning for the funeral claim the Queen personally stepped in to suggest all senior male royals wear suits and ties.
A military source told The Sun: “It’s the most eloquent solution to the problem.”
Another source confirmed last night that “current thinking is no uniforms”.
Royal protocol now means the Duke – who did two tours of Afghanistan with the Blues and Royals – can only wear a suit with medals at royal functions.