Windsor ring of steel for Prince Philip's funeral with armed cops to protect royals as public told ‘STAY AWAY’

POLICE have ramped up security ahead of Prince Philip's funeral – with extra armed cops on patrol and specialist searches carried out.

The Duke of Edinburgh's funeral on Saturday will be a scaled-back royal affair with just 30 mourners in attendance due to Covid rules.

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But police are taking no chances with a ring of steel shielding Windsor, where Philip will be laid to rest, and the royal family.

Among the security measures are extra armed police and uniformed officers on patrol in the historic town leading up to the event.

Gun cops have been seen on the Long Walk today as the public come to pay their respects to Philip after his death aged 99.

Thames Valley Police say the “high visibility patrols” are to "help provide reassurance and keep local residents, businesses and visitors safe".

The force revealed they will be deploying covert security tactics on Saturday when the duke is honoured with a funeral at St George's Chapel.

But beefed-up policing is already visible on the streets with three days to go still.

Dog searches have been taking place across the town – including in phone boxes, drains and bins.

Increased vehicle checks will also be carried out using Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR), which flag suspicious drivers who can the be stopped and searched.

Checks will be made on lorries too – including loads, licences and driver hours in the run-up to the event and on the day.

Thames Valley Police also confirmed anti-terror Hostile Vehicle Mitigation (HVM) barriers are being erected around the town.

The huge concrete blocks are aimed at stopping van rampages similar to the London Bridge terror atrocity in 2017.

The public have been warned to stay away from the event, which is taking place behind the walls of Windsor Castle.

They have also been urged not to leave flowers for the duke and instead told to sign online book of condolence if they wish to pay their respects.

Buckingham Palace has reinforced the official advice and told well-wishers to watch the funeral on TV as there is no public access anyway.

Assistant Chief Constable Ben Snuggs, strategic commander for the funeral, said: "We understand that people will want to pay their respects to HRH the Duke of Edinburgh and to the Royal Family during this time of national mourning.

"However, we would ask that the public respect the Royal Household’s wishes and the Government advice by minimising travel and not gathering in groups.

"Instead, we would ask people to use the online book of condolence which has been set up by the Royal Household.

"There will continue to be a police presence in Windsor in the lead up to and on the day of the funeral as part of our measures to ensure public health and safety and protective security.

"Our thoughts remain with the Royal Family and all those affected at this very difficult time."

Royal borough mayor John Story also urged well-wishers to stay away from Windsor.

He said “there will be nothing to see” and people should instead comply with official advice not to gather in large groups in public places.

But despite the plea, some defiant Brits are still intending to pay their respects in person.

Mike Fulton, 55, who lives in Windsor, said: “It is really important to me to be able to come out.

"Prince Philip is such an iconic figure for us and has always been a part of our lives. It wouldn’t be right not to turn out."

While Razika Berboucha, 57, said: "It’s important to be here because the royals mean a great deal to us.

"If we can’t come out we will do something with our neighbours and stay local."

Philip's funeral will be different to any other royal's after Covid made the family strip back all tradition.

Just 30 guests will be in attendance and the Queen will not take part in the procession from Windsor Castle.

Prince William and Harry, who arrived back in the UK two days ago for the funeral, and other senior royals will follow the Land Rover on foot.

A minute's silence will be held across the nation at 3pm to remember Philip's 70-plus years of service.

Buckingham Palace will release full details of the service and guest list on Thursday.

A spokesperson has insisted the pared-back event is in keeping with the personal wishes of no-fuss Philip.

They said: "This event will be much reduced in scale with no public access. In line with Government guidelines and public health measures, there will be no public processions and the Duke's funeral will take place entirely within the grounds of Windsor Castle,' he said.

"The plans have been given final approval by the Queen and reflect appropriately Government advice. Despite these necessary changes, they still very much reflect the personal wishes of the Duke.

"Although the ceremonial arrangements are reduced, the occasion will still celebrate and recognise the Duke's life and his more than 70 years of service to the Queen, the UK and the Commonwealth."

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