Cafe worker expects Windsor to be ‘very busy’ on day of duke’s funeral

Tom Pilgrim, PA
·3-min read

A Windsor cafe worker said the Duke of Edinburgh was a “big part of the community”, and is expecting the Berkshire town to be “very busy” on the day of Philip’s funeral.

The duke is due to be honoured with a ceremonial royal funeral at St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle on Saturday.

Tone Mendez, who has worked at the nearby Clairmont’s cafe for 12 years, said he may be working from 3am that day due to an expected influx of visitors.

But the 39-year-old, originally from Portugal, said the cafe in the High Street has been ordered by the local council not to put any tables outside.

Authorities have already warned well-wishers not to visit the town on the day of the funeral due to concerns over the potential transmission of Covid-19.

“This weekend we received a letter from the council saying we’re not allowed to put any tables from Friday night until six o’clock on Saturday,” Mr Mendez said.

“It is a big shame. It will be lovely to put all the tables out and people just sit there on (a) sunny day.

“But they probably think the town is going to be very busy and, for safety reasons, we’re not allowed to put tables outside.”

He said the last time such a rule was imposed was for the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex in May 2018, when thousands lined the streets to catch a glimpse of the royal couple.

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Police outside Windsor Castle following the announcement of the death of the Duke of Edinburgh (Steve Parsons/PA)

Asked about his expectations for Saturday, Mr Mendez said: “I believe it’s going to be very, very busy.

“I’ve been hearing things around that they are going to shut Windsor, but I don’t know if it’s true or not.”

Mr Mendez said lockdown had meant a “tough few weeks” for the cafe, but the last few days have been “quite intense”.

“Windsor is packed now. Every weekend is going mental now,” he added.

“And we expect to be more busy this weekend.”

The duke’s funeral will take place entirely behind the walls of Windsor Castle, with members of the public urged not to visit the historic market town to try to watch the proceedings.

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Floral tributes for the late Duke of Edinburgh left on the Long Walk in Windsor (Steve Parsons/PA)

John Story, mayor of Windsor and Maidenhead, previously said: “It is a very difficult time for people and people have very strong feelings, but 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 in to Windsor.”

When he initially learned of Philip’s death from his daughter, Mr Mendez said he thought it was “a joke” but when he saw “a lot of people walking by with flowers” he knew it was “real”.

He added: “He’s a big part of the community of Windsor. We see him in the Long Walk riding his horses… at the market he’s there talking to people. He’s a very nice person to deal with. But now he’s gone, it’s a shame.”

Thames Valley Police have also advised people to respect the Royal Household’s wishes and Government advice by not visiting royal residences or gathering in public to protect against coronavirus transmission.

Additional officers are due to be patrolling Windsor town centre.