Queen Elizabeth II‘s passing last week set into motion a rigorously planned tour of mourning. The procession began in Balmoral where the queen took her last breath, and it is set to culminate in a grand burial at St. George’s Chapel. The grounds have served as the final resting place for British monarchs since 1820 with one notable exception: Queen Victoria.
Queen Victoria Set The Standard For State Funerals
When Queen Victoria died in 1901, it had been 64 years since the last burial of a monarch. Victoria reigned over Britain in an era of great industrial, scientific, and social innovation. So, it’s no surprise that she felt a need to update the funeral traditions ahead of her own passing in 1901, just one of many of her legacies as a monarch.
Victoria left strict instructions for her funeral service. Firstly, she didn’t want the color black to be so present at her funeral. She did away with the cloaks, drapes, and canopy. The monarch even requested a white pall be draped over her coffin.
Secondly, Victoria wanted to be buried as “a soldier’s daughter.” This meant that the procession would involve far more military members, decoration, and tradition. She wanted her pallbearers to be royal officers instead of dukes, and her coffin was to be carried off on a gun carriage.
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These traditions have been honored in the funerals of Victoria’s successors, and we will see many of them as Queen Elizabeth is laid to rest later this month. Yet, despite creating the template for a modern British monarch’s funeral, Victoria wasn’t buried at St. George’s Chapel.
Queen Victoria Had Other Plans
While she may have unknowingly created lasting traditions, Victoria had a penchant for breaking the ones that came before her. In the mid-1800s, Victoria and her husband, Prince Albert, had already decided that they wanted to be laid to rest in their own mausoleum. So, after Albert’s sudden death in 1861, Victoria oversaw plans for a mausoleum to be built on Frogmore grounds.
Victoria wrote extensively about the enduring love she had for Albert. The queen depended heavily on her husband, and her period of mourning wouldn’t end until her own death 40 years later. She wore only black after Albert’s passing, and she refused to change a thing about her late husband’s living quarters. She had fresh linens and water brought to his rooms daily just as they had been when he was alive.
When Victoria passed in 1901, there was no question that she would be laid to rest with her late husband at the Royal Mausoleum at Frogmore. In 1928, a burial ground was consecrated adjacent to the mausoleum and has since been used to relieve overcrowding at St. George’s Chapel, but the mausoleum remains theirs alone.
Today, the mausoleum stands as a monument to Queen Victoria and Prince Albert’s love story.