“In light of The Duke of Edinburgh’s passing, The Duke of Cambridge will no longer be part of BAFTA programming this weekend,” said BAFTA in a statement. “Our thoughts are with the Royal Family, to whom we offer our deepest sympathy at this time.”
Prince William — who is president of BAFTA and normally attends the ceremony with Kate, sitting front and center (pictured) — was scheduled to lead a pre-recorded conversation at Saturday night’s craft awards with three-time BAFTA-winning costume designer Jenny Beavan and make up and hair designer Sharon Martin. Their chat would have touched on the struggles of filming in lockdown and the craft of filmmaking in general.
He was also expected to deliver a speech at Sunday’s main film awards. This would have been live, and delivered via a virtual link. However, it’s likely the prince felt any involvement would have been inappropriate just a day after the death of Prince Philip, who was himself the first president of the organization in 1959.
BAFTA has a long history of royal presidents: all but one — “Gandhi” director Richard Attenborough — has been a member of the royal family. Prince William was named president in 2010, and took up the mantle from his aunt, and the Queen’s daughter, Princess Anne.
The BAFTA Film Awards will air as scheduled on both weekend nights on the BBC, which is returning to normal after blanket coverage of Prince Philip’s death upended its regular schedule on Friday. The corporation’s programming has been so extensive in the last 24 hours that it was forced to set up a separate complaints page for disgruntled viewers.
Gun salutes were fired earlier on Saturday across the U.K., in Gibraltar and at sea in memory of the duke, who was a senior figure in the navy before his marriage to Queen Elizabeth. Queues have also formed outside Buckingham Palace in London of well-wishers looking to leave flowers at the palace gates.
It is thought that BAFTA will hold a tribute of its own to Prince Philip at its ceremonies.