Queen Elizabeth attended her first royal engagement since her husband, Prince Philip, died at the age of 99. On Tuesday, the 94-year-old monarch hosted a retirement ceremony for Earl Peel, who recently left his post as Lord Chamberlain. It had previously been expected that Her Majesty would enter an eight-day period of mourning following her husband's death. The engagement came after the Queen held a phone call with UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Saturday morning.
According to the Court Circular, the official record of the British royal family’s engagements, the ceremony was held at Windsor Castle, where the Queen has been staying amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. During the private event, the Queen accepted her former royal aide's wand and office insignia. Peel announced last year that he would retire, and his duties are set to be taken over by former MI5 spy chief Baron Andrew Parker.
"The Earl Peel had an audience of The Queen today, delivered up his Wand and Insignia of Office as Lord Chamberlain and the Badge of Chancellor of the Royal Victorian Order and took leave upon relinquishing his appointment as Lord Chamberlain, when Her Majesty invested him with the Royal Victorian Chain," the official note from the Court Circular read.
PEOPLE notes that the Lord Chamberlain's position is the most senior officer role appointed by the royal household, and the Lord Chamberlain's Office oversees "all senior appointments of the senior royal family, facilitate communication between the sovereign and the House of Lords and co-ordinates engagements between Buckingham Palace and Clarence House." According to the outlet, prior to his retirement after 14 years, Peel was overseeing the Duke of Edinburgh's funeral proceedings, which is to take place on Saturday, April 17 at St. George's Chapel at Windsor Castle. The funeral is scheduled to begin at 3 p.m. local time (10 a.m. ET) and will be broadcast live.
Due to the pandemic, Philip's funeral will be on a much smaller scale than typical royal funerals, though it will be in line with Prince Philip's personal wishes. The funeral will only be attended by 30 people, including Philip's grandson Prince Harry, who returned to London this week. The military bearer party of his coffin and the Dean of Windsor David Conner and the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby are permitted to be extra to that 30 figure.
Philip died "peacefully" at Windsor Castle on April 9 as the longest-serving consort to a British sovereign. Following his death, the Queen, his wife of 73 years, was expected to enter an eight-day period of mourning. The U.K. is expected to go into a period of 10 days of mourning, with the royal household also entering a 30-day period of mourning. According to the BBC, a royal official said members of the family would continue "to undertake engagements appropriate to the circumstances."