State funeral of Edward VII

The state funeral of Edward VII, and Emperor of India, occurred on Friday, 20 May 1910.

The funeral was the largest gathering of European royalty ever to take place, with representatives of 70 states, and the last before many royal families were deposed in the First World War and its aftermath.[1]

The lying-in-state of King Edward VII in Westminster Hall, 17-19 May 1910.

King Edward VII had died on 6 May, and following a private lying in state in the Throne Room at Buckingham Palace,[2] on 17 May the coffin was taken in procession to Westminster Hall, where there was a public lying in state.[3] This was the first to be held in the hall for a member of the Royal Family and was inspired by the lying in state of William Gladstone there in 1898.[2] On the first day, thousands of members of the public queued patiently in the rain to pay their respects; some 25,000 people were turned away when the gates were closed at 10 pm. On 19 May, Kaiser Wilhelm II wanted to have the hall closed while he laid a wreath; however, the police advised that there might be disorder if that happened, so the Kaiser was taken in through another entrance while the public continued to file past.[4] An estimated half a million people visited the hall during the three days that it was open.[5]

The funeral was held two weeks after the king's death on 20 May. Huge crowds, estimated at between three and five million, gathered to watch the procession, the route of which was lined by 35,000 soldiers.[6] It passed from Buckingham Palace to Westminster Hall, where a small ceremony was conducted by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Randall Davidson, before a small group of official mourners – the late King's widow Queen Alexandra, his son King George V, his daughter The Princess Victoria, his brother the Duke of Connaught, and his nephew the German Emperor. The remainder of the funeral party waited outside the Hall, consisting of thousands of people. Big Ben, the bell in the nearby clock tower, was rung 68 times, one for each year of Edward VII's life. This was the first time it was used in this way at a monarch's funeral.[7]

The whole procession then proceeded from Westminster Hall, via Whitehall and the Mall, from Hyde Park Corner up to the Marble Arch, and thence to Paddington Station; from there, a funeral train conveyed the mourners to Windsor.[2] The mourners used the Royal Train, which together with the funeral car built for Queen Victoria, was hauled by the GWR 4000 Class locomotive King Edward.[8] From the station, the procession then continued on to Windsor Castle, and a full funeral ceremony was held in St George's Chapel. The funeral service followed the format used for Queen Victoria, except that it included the interment within the chapel, whereas Victoria had been interred at Royal Mausoleum, Frogmore. The liturgy was closely based on the Order for The Burial of the Dead from the Book of Common Prayer. Queen Alexandra had specifically requested an anthem by Sir Arthur Sullivan, Brother, thou art gone before us, however Archbishop Davidson and other senior clerics thought that the piece lacked sufficient gravitas and Alexandra was persuaded to accept instead His Body Is Buried In Peace, the chorus from George Frideric Handel's Funeral Anthem For Queen Caroline.[2]

The funeral directors to the Royal Household appointed to assist during this occasion were the family business of William Banting of St James's Street, London. The Banting family also conducted the funerals of King George III in 1820, King George IV in 1830, the Duke of Gloucester in 1834, the Duke of Wellington in 1852, Prince Albert in 1861, Prince Leopold in 1884, and Queen Victoria in 1901. The royal undertaking warrant for the Banting family ended in 1928 with the retirement of William Westport Banting.[9]

Edward's body was provisionally buried in the Royal Vault at Windsor under the Albert Chapel. On the instructions of Queen Alexandra, a monument was designed and executed by Bertram Mackennal in 1919, featuring tomb effigies of the king and queen in white marble mounted on a black and green marble sarcophagus, where both bodies were buried after the queen's death in 1925 in the South Aisle. The monument includes a depiction of Edward's favourite dog, Caesar, lying at his feet.[10]

Ceremonial funeral procession of King Edward VII (1901-1910) passing through the streets of London on May 20, 1910. Views of the moving casket, heads of state walking behind the casket, the royal carriage, and various marching military units. Attending the ceremony were Kaiser Wilhelm II, Stéphen Pichon, kings of Spain, Portugal, Denmark, Archduke Franz Ferdinand, and Theodore Roosevelt.

The funeral was notable for the enormous number of important European and world royalty who participated in it. The funeral procession saw a horseback procession, followed by 11 carriages.

Figures on horseback included the following, along with various military figures and equerries (given roughly in the order they rode:

Media related to Funeral of Edward VII of the United Kingdom at Wikimedia Commons