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Prince Phillip Funeral Plans Revised

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Carefully laid plans for the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral, revised over many years, have been abandoned owing to the coronavirus pandemic, with public elements unable to take place.

The Queen and senior aides have now to fashion a fitting farewell to the longest-serving consort in British history given current restrictions. The plans will be set in motion once they have been personally approved by the Queen.

It will be a major undertaking. Organisers are said to be “desperately anxious” not to stage anything that attracts mass gatherings.

The police are facing the difficult, and sensitive, task of ensuring that crowds do not gather to pay their last respects to the duke.

All senior members of the royal family are regularly asked to update their funeral plans. The duke revised his – codenamed Forth Bridge – many times over his long life.

“One thing he did not want was for it to be like the funeral of his uncle, Lord Mountbatten [in 1979]. He did not want that ostentation,” a source said. Of that, given all the present circumstances, he is assured.

Under pre-Covid plans for the coming days, thousands of people would have been expected to line the processional route in London as his coffin was borne on a gun carriage pulled by naval ratings through the capital on the day of his funeral.

From London, the coffin was to have travelled to Windsor by Range Rover, with the cortege making its way along a processional route in Windsor to the castle, and St George’s Chapel for the funeral service.

The routes were to have been lined with hundreds of members of the armed forces, representatives from the many organisations of which the duke had been patron, and well-wishers.

Traditionally a royal ceremonial funeral would entail a horse-drawn procession. But, in keeping with the duke’s military career and strong links to the armed forces, horses were to be replaced with service personnel.

For the duke, who served with the Royal Navy, and was mentioned in dispatches during the second world war, his coffin was to have been be drawn by naval gun carriage – as was Queen Victoria’s – with 80 ratings in front and 40 ratings behind.

Now there is likely to be no procession in London or Windsor.

Up to 800 mourners, including world leaders, Commonwealth representatives, and senior politicians, would have been among those expected to attend the St George’s Chapel funeral. This will now not be possible.

Current rules on funerals in England mean a maximum of 30 people may attend, who must all socially distance unless they live together or share a support bubble.

It means the Queen may have to limit the numbers of her large family who can attend. She and others may also have to wear face coverings and stay 2 metres apart.

Tradition suggested that before the funeral his coffin would have initially rested at the Chapel Royal at St James’s Palace in London, where family and household staff could stand private vigil, and private prayers can be said.

On the night before his funeral, it was expected that the coffin would have been moved to the nearby Queen’s Chapel. It is not yet known if this is still the case.

Philip’s no-fuss, no-nonsense approach to life was reflected in his refusal to have a lying in state at Westminster Hall, as took place for the Queen Mother’s funeral.

According to royal protocol he would have been entitled, as befits his position as a senior member of the royal family and prince consort – though he never used that official title.

But he long ago rejected the honour of lying in state, where members of the public pay their respects and visit the coffin, when consulted over his own funeral plans. His decision relieves the government of one potential problem, at least.

Preparations are now expected to centre on Windsor Castle, without the military procession in London or processions through Windsor. The funeral service itself is still likely to be held at St George’s Chapel, and is expected to be televised.

It is likely there will be, as was long planned, a private burial in the royal vault below the chapel, attended by the Queen and senior family members.

Some military involvement to honour the duke is still possible, though confined to the grounds of Windsor Castle, and in compliance with Covid-19 restrictions.

Details of the exact final funeral arrangements, with the UK progressing through the easing of restrictions, will be announced in the near future.

A memorial service – not something the duke wanted – could be held at a later date after the nation has dealt with the worst public health crisis for a generation.

In overall charge of the arrangements is the Lord Chamberlain, Baron Parker of Minsmere – a former head of MI5 – who took over the role at the start of April.

He is the most senior official of the royal household and has overall responsibility for the duke’s funeral.

Sir Edward Young, the Queen’s private secretary and senior adviser, will be on hand for the Queen throughout the challenging days ahead.

The Guardian

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CHOGM 2021 Postponed Due To COVID-19 Pandemic

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Paul Kagame and Commonwealth Secretary-General, Rt. Hon. Patricia Scotland QC are expected to officially announce the postponement of CHOGM 2021 as a result of the continuing impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.  

President Kagame said in a statement that having reviewed all available evidence and risk assessments, and after close consultation between the Commonwealth Secretariat and Member States, the decision has been made to postpone the CHOGM in Kigali for a second time. 

The decision to postpone CHOGM for a second time has not been taken lightly, the statement said. 

“The health and welfare of all Commonwealth citizens at this critical time must take precedence. We look forward to welcoming the Commonwealth family to Kigali for CHOGM at the appropriate time,” Kagame said.

The Cmmonwealth Secretary-General is queues saying that, “We know that the COVID-19 pandemic is continuing to have a hugely damaging impact on our member countries, many of whom continue to face huge losses to lives and livelihoods. And while it is with deep disappointment and regret that we cannot bring Commonwealth leaders together at this time to discuss many of these critical issues, we must be mindful of the huge risks large meetings pose to all.

“I want to thank the Government and people of Rwanda for their professionalism, support, patience and their impeccable readiness to hold CHOGM. And I want to thank all our member countries and, in particular, the United Kingdom as our Chair-in-Office and India, who have suffered so grievously in these trying times. I look forward warmly to a time when we can be reunited with the Commonwealth family, face-to-face, in Rwanda when the conditions allow for us to do so safely and securely.”

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Boat Donated By Kagame To Nkombo Islanders Not Operational

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Residents of Nkombo Island will have to wait longer to travel on a boat donated to them by President Paul Kagame.

Nkombo island is located on Lake Kivu in Rusizi district. Residents last saw this boat in October last year when it was officially handed to the district.

According to authorities of Rusizi district, the delay to use this boat is because drivers are still undergoing intensive training until they learn to operate the water vessel.

Currently the boat is docked in Karongi district and will only be available when the drivers have fully completed training.

President Paul Kagame has a special attachment to the people living on Nkombo Island. He donated  the second boat to the islanders on June 29, 2015 while addressing opinion leaders in Rusizi district.

“I am giving you an even bigger vessel, please use it to relate, trade and utilize all the opportunities your district has to offer,” advised Kagame.

In 2010, Kagame donated a passenger boat with a capacity to carry 100 passengers and 40 tons of luggage. The island hosts over 180,000 residents.

For the past regimes, this island was extremely neglected and treated as though it was part of Democratic Republic of Congo formerly Zaire. Previous governments ridiculed and despised Nkombo islanders as backward people and attached them to ‘Bashi’, a Congolese tribe.

With this deep neglect sanctioned by previous regimes, Nkombo islanders invented a language known as ‘Amahavu’ a mixture of two dialects; Congo’s Lingala and Kinyarwanda.

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President Tshisekedi Orders Martial Law Rule In Kivu, Ituri

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President Felix Tshisekedi has ordered rule of martial law in DRCs North Kivu and Ituri provinces effective on Thursday, May 6.

The Congolese President called on the people of the two provinces “to cooperate closely with the military authorities deployed by denouncing enemies of the people and complicity at whatever level” with those perpetrating violence.

The shift in management of this part of the country is aimed at stemming the bloodshed and returning order to the region, the president said in an address on national television Monday.

During the period of martial law, Congo’s security forces will have the right to search homes, seize weapons and prohibit travel, Tshisekedi’s spokesman, Kasongo Mwema Yambab Yamba, said in a separate address.

The military and police authorities will also have the right to ban publications and meetings deemed contrary to public order and to prosecute those suspected of violating the peace, he said.

Eastern Congo with population of 20 million people, borders Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi. This region hosts at least 120 armed groups

Violence in eastern Congo includes numerous conflicts over control of land and resources, protection of local communities, and rebellions linked to neighboring countries.

Ituri and North Kivu are rich in metals like gold and coltan and armed groups including alleged criminal networks in the army sometimes profit from their trade.

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