John Story, who is also the mayor of Maidenhead, acknowledged the ceremony will be “difficult for people who have very strong feelings” about Prince Philip’s death – but urged everyone to remember that coronavirus restrictions remain in place for a reason.
“We have to ask everyone to put theirs and the health and safety of others at the top of their list of priorities and not come into Windsor,” Mr Story told Metro.
“I hope that people will regard it as having been a very respectful day and a very safe one. It will be a very sad day for us all.”
He added: “I think it will be quite an emotional day and it will be a big national moment, because he has been such a large part of our lives for a very long time indeed.”
While Mr Story did not go into specifics about police plans to cope with potential crowds, he said officers will take whatever measures are “required” to ensure lockdown guidelines – specifically those regarding large gatherings – are adhered to.
“It is a really serious message that everyone stays away,” he told the newspaper, adding mourners have been asked to sign an online book of condolence rather than leave flowers outside the castle.
Royal commentator Joe Little revealed last week that Philip’s funeral would be kept “behind castle walls at Windsor” and that the public “won’t get to see much of it at all”.
“It will be a great shame that he has to have such a quiet send off. But, in saying that, he didn’t want all the pomp and pageantry anyway, so I suppose in a way it would suit his purpose,” Mr Little, of Majesty magazine, said at the time.
Reports have since suggested that the Queen may be forced to sit on her own during the ceremony, to avoid coming into contact with relatives she does not live with – and in order to stick to social distancing guidelines still in place across England.
Thames Valley Police have asked the public to follow Covid safety measures, saying: “Officers will be patrolling Windsor town centre along with the surrounding area to help provide reassurance and keep local residents, businesses and people safe.”
The force has also been carrying out specialist searches in Windsor to prevent terror attacks, including scoping out phone boxes, post boxes, drains and bins ahead of the funeral.
Visible and covert security measures will be in place on Saturday, including automated number plate checks, CCTV, barriers to prevent attacks using cars and patrols of armed and mounted officers.