Royal funerals: pomp, pomp and sometimes seclusion

Royal funerals: pomp, pomp and sometimes seclusion

Princess Diana’s funeral was watched by millions around the world – Copyright AFP Juan BARRETO

Funerals for high-ranking members of the royal family since World War II have tended to be very public, with pomp, showmanship and popular fervor.

– 1952: King George VI –

On February 6, 1952, King George VI died suddenly at the age of 56 after a long illness.

At his funeral on 15 February, his coffin was carried to Paddington station in west London on gun carriage from Westminster Hall in the Palace of Westminster, where he lay, to St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle.

A silent crowd lined the foggy streets of London during the three-hour procession. His eldest daughter, who became Queen Elizabeth II at the age of 25, followed him in a horse-drawn carriage.

A year later, on 24 March, George’s mother, the Dowager Queen Mary, died at the age of 85. Over two days, 120,000 people paid their respects in Westminster.

– 1979: Lord Mountbatten –

On August 27, 1979, Louis Mountbatten, the Queen’s cousin and the last Viceroy of India, was killed at the age of 79 by an Irish Republican Army bomb planted in his boat.

The murder shocked Britain. Mountbatten was a decorated naval commander, uncle of Queen Elizabeth II’s husband, Prince Philip, and tutor to the couple’s eldest son and heir, Prince Charles.

On September 5, hundreds of thousands of people gathered in London, along with representatives of the British armed forces, the US Marine Corps and French, Canadian, Indian and Burmese soldiers, to hold a solemn farewell to him.

An escort of six tanks carried the coffin from Westminster Abbey to Waterloo Station, where it was moved to Romsey, near Southampton, in the south of England, for burial in the city’s abbey.

– 1997: Princess Diana –

On September 6, 1997, the country came to a standstill due to the funeral of Diana, Princess of Wales, who died in a car accident in Paris on August 31 at the age of 36.

Her death shocked the whole world. Millions of people took to the streets and an estimated 2.5 billion viewers watched the service on television.

As the procession passed Buckingham Palace, Queen Elizabeth II, who has been criticized for her low-key initial reaction to the death of Prince Charles’ ex-wife, publicly bowed her head.

The couple’s two young sons, Princes William and Harry, walked with their heads bowed behind their mother’s coffin. Diana was buried at Althorp, the family’s historic home in Northamptonshire, on an island in the middle of a lake.

– 2002: Princess Margaret –

Led by Queen Elizabeth II’s frail 101-year-old mother, also called Elizabeth, the royal family buried the monarch’s younger sister, Princess Margaret, on February 15, 2002, who had died six days earlier at the age of 71 after a series of strokes.

Around 450 family and friends attended the private funeral, including around 30 members of the royal family such as the Queen, Margaret’s ex-husband Lord Snowdon and her two children, Viscount Linley and Lady Sarah Chatto.

Despite fears for her own health, the Queen Mother attended a service at St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle.

Exactly 50 years have passed since she buried her husband, King George VI. In violation of royal tradition, Margaret was cremated.

– 2002: The Queen Mother –

Just seven weeks after Margaret, the Queen Mother, Queen Elizabeth, died in her sleep on 30 March at Windsor. Her funeral on April 9 marked the end of an era.

The royal matriarch was the last empress consort of India and a link to the past century. She was much loved as a symbol of resistance to the Nazi enemy during World War II.

Over four days, over 200,000 people marched past her coffin, paying their respects. Her funeral at Westminster Abbey was attended by 2,000 people.

More than a million people lined the 37-kilometer (23-mile) funeral procession route to Windsor, where she was interred with her husband at the King George VI Memorial Chapel and next to Margaret’s ashes.

– 2021: Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh –

The 73-year-old husband of Queen Elizabeth II passed away on April 9, 2021, just months before his 100th birthday and after a long hospital stay due to heart disease.

Restrictions due to the coronavirus limited his April 18 funeral to just 30, with social distancing, face masks and no crowds.

The Duke’s coffin was taken to St. George’s Chapel in a specially adapted Land Rover that he had built himself.

His remains were buried in the Royal Crypt at Windsor with instructions to be transferred after the death of his wife to the memorial chapel of King George VI.

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