Funerals for senior royal members are very public events, from the death of King George VI in 1952 to Prince Philip’s passing away in 2021.
Since World War II, funerals for senior royals have been very public affairs with pomp, pageantry, and popular fervor.
1952: King George VI
King George VI, aged 56, died suddenly on 6 February 1952.
His coffin was transported to Paddington station in west London by a gun carriage that ran from Westminster Hall at Westminster to St. George’s Chapel Windsor Castle.
During the three-hour procession, a silent crowd lined London’s streets as a line. His oldest daughter, Queen Elizabeth II at 25 years old, was accompanied by a horse-drawn coach.
One year later, George’s mother, Queen Mary, the dowager, died at 85. In Westminster, over 120,000 people paid tribute in two days.
1979: Lord Mountbatten
Louis Mountbatten was the cousin of the Queen and the last viceroy of India. He was 79 years old when he was hit by an Irish Republican Army bomb that was placed on his boat.
The United Kingdom was rocked by the assassination. Mountbatten, a decorated naval commander, and uncle to Queen Elizabeth II’s husband Prince Philip was a mentor to Prince Charles, the couple’s eldest son.
On the 5th of September, thousands of people joined representatives from the US Marines, British armed forces, and French, Canadian, and Burmese soldiers in London to bid him farewell.
Six tanks accompanied the escort to transport the coffin from Westminster Abbey into Waterloo station, where it was taken to Romsey near Southampton, south England, to be buried at the abbey.
1997: Princess Diana
The country was unable to hold the funeral of Diana Princess of Wales on 6 September 1997. She died at 36 in a car accident in Paris.
The shockwaves that her death caused around the globe were felt immediately. The service was watched by millions of viewers, with an estimated 2.5 billion people watching it on television.
The procession was passing Buckingham Palace. Queen Elizabeth II, who had been criticized for her initial reaction to Prince Charles’ death, publicly bowed her head.
Prince William and Harry, the young sons of the couple, walked with their heads down behind their mother’s coffin. Diana was buried on an island at the lake’s edge at Althorp in Northamptonshire.
2002: Princess Margaret
The frail Queen Elizabeth II, also known as Elizabeth, led the royal family to lay to rest Princess Margaret, her younger sister, on 15 February 2002. She had died six days before, aged 71, after suffering a series of strokes.
Around 450 relatives and friends attended the private funeral, including Lord Snowdon, Margaret’s ex, and her two children Viscount Linley, and Lady Sarah Chatto.
2002: The Queen Mother
Seven weeks after Margaret died, Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, passed away in her sleep at Windsor on March 30, just seven weeks later. Her funeral on April 9 marked the end to an era.
The last Indian empress, the royal matriarch, was a link to an earlier age. Her love was a sign of resistance against the Nazi enemy in World War II.
Over the course of four days, more than 200,000 people passed her coffin to pay their respects. Her funeral at Westminster Abbey was attended by 2,000 people.
Over a million people lined up to the route of the funeral procession from Windsor. She was interred along with her husband at King George VI’s memorial chapel and Margaret’s ashes.
2021: Prince Philip and Duke of Edinburgh
Queen Elizabeth II’s husband of 72 years, died on April 9, 2021. He was just months away from his 100th birthday.
Coronavirus restrictions restricted his funeral to only 30 people on April 18, with social distancing and face masks — but no public crowds.
The coffin of the duke was carried to St. George’s Chapel by a Land Rover specially modified for that purpose, which he had built.
His remains were interred at Windsor’s Royal Vault, with instructions for his death to the King George VI memorial Chapel.
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