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  • Writer's pictureVictoria Regina

Preparations of Queen Victoria’s coffin

Queen Victoria's coffin draped with state robes, Osborne House Jan 1901 © Royal Collection Trust / HM King Charles III

Before Queen Victoria died, she left strict instructions on what she wanted and how she wanted it. From her coffin to her burial Victoria covered it in 1897. Victoria personally requested her faithful doctor Sir James Reid to carry out her final wishes, especially the requests she made whish her family would not approve of. She requested to not be embalmed so 1 and a half inches of charcoal was used to line the ceder and oak coffin, this masked any smells and kept her 'presentable'

On the 25th of January The Late Queen was dressed in a white silk gown and the Order of The Garter insignia on. Like requested a plaster cast of Prince Albert's hand, his dressing gown which was embroidered by Princess Alice and various photographs were placed in the coffin. Over these items was laid a quilted cushion which was made to fit the shape of the coffin, this concealed the requested items placed in the coffin from view. Victoria's wedding veil was place over her face, as she requested. She also requested to be buried with a large amount of sentimental jewellery. A ring was placed on each of fingers, these also included John Brown's mothers wedding ring and Victoria's much beloved serpent engagement ring which was designed by Prince Albert. Her wrists were stacked with bracelets and her body was adorned by brooches and necklaces.

The Queens body was then lifted by the Emperor of Germany, the Duke of Connaught, Prince Arthur of Connaught, Mrs Tuck, Misses Stewart and Ticking, Woodford, Scott and Spenser. Her veil, gown and the lace around her was rearranged and the sides were packed with charcoal and muslin.

Victoria left private instructions to Sir James Reid which he followed out, he placed a photograph of John Brown and an encased lock Browns hair in her left hand ( both were wrapped in tissue paper and placed under flowers from Queen Alexandra)

Once the family and close attendants had their last look of The Queen, The King sent for the Munshi whom would be the last person to see Victoria before her coffin was closed. The coffin was sealed and covered with a white pall, it was then carried by The King, The Emperor, The Duke of Connaught, Prince Arthur, The Duke of Coburg, Sir James Reid, Woodford and two of his men carried the coffin into the passage at the top of the stairs outside the room Victoria passed away in. Members of the Royal Navy carried the coffin into the dining room which had been converted into a Chapple Ardenet.

Queen Victoria's Lying in State in the Albert Memorial Chapel, Windsor Castle Feb 1901 © Royal Collection Trust / HM King Charles III

Men from the 60th rifles stood waititing to guard the coffin but no one knew the procedure of how to stand guard over a Sovereigns coffin as none of the men had actually been taught how to reverse arms (leaning on a weapon held upsidedown as a mark of respect and mourning) the strong smell of flowers and perfume upset the guards at first but they soon became accustomed to it. Eventually The Duke of Connaught discovered it was the privilege of The Queen's Company, Grenadier Guards to mount guard over the late monarchs coffin. Quickly they were sent for and upon their arrival changed the whole ordeal to a more professional and orderly manner. Four gaurds stood at each corner of the coffin and one member of the royal household stood watch at the foot of the coffin. The Late Queens coffin was draped with her state robes and upon a cushion her small diamond crown a garter were laid.

The coffin laid in state for 10 days until the 1st February where her coffin was by Royal Yatch Alberta to Windsor. After two days of lying-in-state in the Albert Memorial Chapel, the Queen was interned beside Prince Albert in the Royal Mausoleum, Frogmore.

I will be doing a blog post about the funeral and burial of Queen Victoria in the coming days.

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