In 1897 Queen Victoria left instructions on her funeral and burial. Although Victoria continued to wear black until her death she requested to be buried in white, she also requested white horses to draw the gun carriage which transported her coffin. Most notably she requested her funeral pall be white instead of the traditional black.
Her death was expected but sudden, and things had to happen quickly. The family wanted a new pall made, and no commercial company would touch it because the time was too short.
Princess Helena, whom was the first president of The Royal School of needlework suggested that the Royal school of Needlwork could make a pall in time for the funeral. From the time the order was confirmed, to it leaving the RSN, the pall took 48 hours. The actual stitching was 21 continuous hours. There were up to 45 stitchers who worked on it.
The pall was white silk with gold, and embroidered with the Crown & Arms of England. Princess Helena described the pall as ' a labour of love'
The new King commanded his members of staff, to each take one corner of the Pall, which was then laid carefully upon the death-bed of the late Queen; The King, Prince Louis, Miss Haines and Sir Lionel Cust each holding one corner, until all was in order. They then laid on the Pall the National Flag and the Crown and Cushion over the late Queens coffin.
The pall had covered the coffin during the whole proceedings, until the Queen's body had been placed finally in the Royal Mausoleum at Frog-more. The Pall had then been taken off, together with the National Flag and the Gilt Crown and Cushion, which had also been laid upon the coffin, and entrusted to the care of Mr.Miles until further orders.
Many witnesses described the Pall as magnificent, even going as far as claiming the pall was 'The one bright spot on a very sad day'
An extract from Mary, Lady Monkswell's diary. "The Queen's coffin stood high on the gun carriage drawn by the eight cream-coloured ponies. It was covered by a magnificent white satin pall, edged with gold, & embroidered with the Crown & Arms of England. The flag lay over part of it, & on it was the Crown, the Sceptre, & the Orb. Behind it, the Royal Standard was carried, hung with crepe"
Lady Lytton wrote, whilst Travelling with the Queen's coffin on HMY Alberta "No can express the beauty of the day. The colour of the Crown, the Royal Standard (and) Union Jack put in perfect folds - the white & gold satin pall over the coffin all looked so splendid & then all the uniforms. Only the Princesses & ladies were in the dreary black & very bad it looked."