The monarchy will look different now Philip has gone
A version of this story appeared in a special April 18 edition of CNN's Royal News, a weekly dispatch bringing you the inside track on the royal family, what they are up to in public and what's happening behind palace walls. Sign up here.
Windsor, England (CNN) -- Grief and loss have a way of bringing families together and that appeared to be the case yesterday.
Britain's royal family has faced some crises of late but the Duke of Edinburgh's funeral service signaled a new phase in the monarchy.
For the first time in 73 years, the Queen is without her soulmate, her most trusted adviser who had been there right from the beginning.
The Queen often turned to her husband for professional counsel and nearly always took his advice. Behind the scenes, he assumed leadership on many aspects of the family's life. Now the clan are charting a new path forward after laying their beloved patriarch to rest.
What we are witnessing is a monarchy adapting and evolving in real time. It's a tricky period for the United Kingdom, which frankly is not so united right now. Calls have not gone away in Scotland for independence, episodes of violent unrest have erupted in parts of Northern Ireland in recent weeks and England is facing something of an identity crisis post-Brexit.
Ceremonial departures can help steady the ship.
The Queen will undoubtedly carry on, as she has always has, due to her eternal commitment to duty and service. She will still define the monarchy as a symbol of unity and continuity. But we are also seeing senior royal family members rallying around her in Philip's absence.
That was certainly the case this past week. Despite some friction in various family relations, her children, and then later grandchildren, came forward to convey how she was coping and share fond memories of the duke and his work.
Due to the Queen's exceptional reign, 72-year-old Charles is the world's longest-serving heir apparent, which he became at the age of three when then-Princess Elizabeth acceded to the throne. But never has his position as successor been more essential. He now assumes the role as the Queen's closest confidant, truly a king-in-waiting.
He will help manage situations as he did, alongside his eldest William, when Harry and wife Meghan revealed they wanted to step back from royal duties.
The deep rift between the brothers has been heavily speculated over since the Sussexes sat down with Oprah Winfrey last month. The pair are deeply hurt. For Harry's part, he feels he was left with no choice but to separate himself from the UK, its tabloid press and "unsupportive" monarchy to protect his wife. William, meanwhile, feels abandoned by his brother who was supposed to be by his side in the future monarchy.
Before the funeral, much was made of the fact the brothers would follow Philip's coffin on foot but be separated by their cousin, Peter Phillips. In the end, yes Phillips was between them, but they naturally fell in sync with one another with their cousin a step behind them. And then there was the moment of seeing Harry join William and his wife Catherine, chatting as they walked back up to Windsor Castle following the service.
Seeing the brothers reunite despite current differences was enormously important. Harry doesn't need to come back into his royal role, but they must repair their relationship and William needs someone to confide in. That person has to be Harry -- the only person who truly understands William. Catherine may be William's wife but Harry has gone through tough times with his brother. He understands royalty and the duties that come with it.
CNN royal historian Kate Williams, who joined us in Windsor, recalled that Harry's life has been one of service and would likely have been moved by the numerous military references peppered throughout the funeral service.
The service would have touched the Duke of Sussex because of his two tours of duty in Afghanistan, and "everything he's done for veterans with the Invictus Games. He's always wanted to be in service," Williams said. She added that Harry had hoped to create something of a flexi-royal function -- a system that the European royals use -- and perhaps that could be explored in the future. Regardless, Williams said, "Harry's support is so important to the monarchy and he is so needed."
The challenge is how the clan prepares for the next generation of monarchy. The Queen remains incredibly popular and the system is safe so long as she is on the throne. They must find a way for Charles' reign to be held in equally high esteem, and that will require the assistance of both of his sons.
A Queen in mourning
The royal family adhered strictly to UK Covid-19 regulations during the funeral. As such, the Queen sat alone during the service. All guests who are not members of the same household were required to sit around 2 meters apart. The Queen and the late Prince Philip had been in a bubble with some members of their household for the last year and so the monarch was not eligible to join one with other members of her family.
How Meghan honored Philip from afar
Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, who is pregnant with the couple's second child, had wanted to attend the Saturday service but was advised against traveling to England by her physician. However, she wanted to pay her respects and sent a wreath made up of locally sourced flowers and a handwritten note from the couple. A spokesperson for the Duke and Duchess of Sussex said Saturday that she was watching from home.
The UK's Prime Minister couldn't attend the funeral. He did this instead.
Boris Johnson watched the funeral from his country residence of Chequers, a Downing Street spokesperson confirmed Saturday. He was unable to attend the service -- as he would have been expected to under normal circumstances -- as a result of the pandemic. The number of mourners in attendance was limited to just 30 people to remain in compliance of current government coronavirus restrictions. In lieu of his attendance, he held a minute's silence as the service got underway at the door of his property in memory of the duke and posted a photo of the moment's tribute on Twitter.
Prince Philip was laid to rest in an intimate service at St. George's Chapel, which lies within the grounds of Windsor Castle. By royal standards, the service was a relatively muted affair. The ceremony was limited to 30 people, in line with England's current coronavirus restrictions.
It was preceded by a ceremonial procession that featured members of his family and several of his closest aides walking behind the coffin while the service was littered with references to the duke's strong relationship to the military.
The end of the funeral was marked by the Buglers of the Royal Marines sounding "Action Stations," an announcement that would traditionally be made on a naval warship to signify that all hands should go to battle stations.