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  • Writer's pictureVictoria Regina

Queen Victoria’s Journal - The funeral of Prince Leopold, 5th April 1884

Updated: Apr 5

On the 5th April 1884, the remains of

Prince Leopold, Duke of Albany, were committed to the Royal tomb in the Chapel of St. George's, at Windsor.

Funeral service of Prince Leopold, Duke of Albany 1884. © Illustrated London News Ltd/Mary Evans

"I had a restless night, & woke early. — Lenchen & Beatrice breakfasted with me. After it, Lenchen fetched good Philip Coburg, who has come the whole way from Cannes, where he had seen dear Leopold a great deal. — Poor dear Helen went down to the Chapel once more quietly at ¼ p. 10, & found all as she wished, & it was a great comfort to her. & Saw Bertie a moment, & then went to dear Helen, who was wonderfully calm. Her sister came to be with her. — Dressed, & left for St. George's Chapel, with Alix & Lenchen, Louise & Beatrice following. Drove first to the Deanery, & as I got out, I saw the sad procession moving down from the door, & heard the touching strains of that beautiful Chopin March. The coffin was again borne by the Seaforth Highlanders. I stopped to look & then went into the Deanery, out through the Cloisters, where Augusta Strelitz joined us, & here we entered St. George's Chapel. I took dear Alix's arm, & went to our places in the Choir. The altar steps were literally covered with splendid wreaths & crosses, amongst the former, was a beautiful large one from the Seaforth Highlanders. We were seated on chairs close to the altar, in a line with the stalls, opposite to where I had stood, at His & Arthurs weddings!! Alix sat next to me. All the stalls were filled with members of the Household, & those specially invited, amongst whom were the Arch Bishop, the Dean of Christchurch, Lord Salisbury, Sir S. Northcote & Sir R. Cross &c. We heard the March as the procession was slowly wending its way. It then stopped, & we could discern the Dean's voice reading the opening sentences. Soon the first part of the procession entered, composed of dear Leopold's servants, including poor Alick Grant (who looked wretched) & Reibold (his courier) his footmen, & 2 of mine who had served him when he was at Oxford. They were followed by Mr Collins, bearing the coronet, & Major Waller, carrying his orders &c. Then appeared the coffin, covered as before with the Union Jack, & lying on it the Bonnet & Claymore, borne on the shoulders of 8 Seaforth Highlanders, others walking close by to assist them, & the young Officer giving the words of command, which he did so quietly & well. Bertie, supported by Fritz & Louis, followed by all the Princes & relations followed immediately behind. All the time a most beautiful & touching Prelude by Chopin, was played on the organ, very softly & plaintively. It was an anxious moment when the soldiers had to place their dear burden on the ground, but they did it admirably, without a sound whilst a Hymn was sung. The coffin was placed on a trestle, almost even with the floor, over the opening, by which it would descend to the vault. For a few moments the soldiers remained standing on their side of the coffin, then they moved away, the 8 pall bearers, all, dearest Leopold's friends, taking their place: Ld Brooke, Mr Sidney Herbert, Mr W. Campbell of Blythswood (who was dreadfully affected,) Mr Raglan Somerset, Ld Harris, LdCastlereagh, Hon: H. Bourke, & Mr L. Miles. To think that not 2 years ago, here, in the very same spot, my darling Leopold had stood for his wedding, & walked up the very same way, which he had now been borne along, — is too dreadful! Oh! God! it is too heartbreaking! The service proceeded, which the Dean read beautifully. One Psalm was chanted. When the words came "Dust to dust, ashes to ashes", poor W. Campbell stepped forward, knelt down, & strewed a handful of earth on the coffin. The service being concluded, but before the Benediction, the beautiful Hymn "Lead kindly light" was sung, during the last verse of which we left, not to see the dreadful part of the lowering of the coffin, & hear my dear child's "Style" proclaimed by Garter. I took Alix's arm & completely gave way, though I was quite able to walk & get into the carriage, dear sweet Alix, being so kind & Helpful. She, Lenchen, & Augusta Strelitz, who was most full of sympathy, went in the carriage with me. The Company of the Seaforth Highlanders with their band & pipers, were standing outside. — Went to poor dear Helen, who was alone with her sister. She had heard nothing but the guns. — Lay down on the sofa & rested. Lenchen brought poor young Walter Campbell of B., who is in utter despair, I held his poor cold hand in mine. He said all he cared for was gone! That Leopold had been everything to him. After him, I saw the Maharajah Duleep Singh, & Lunched with Lenchen, Louise & Beatrice, but went first to wish poor darling Helen goodbye. She was so gentle & full of gratitude. Her sister went with her. Also saw Edward Weimar & Victor, for a moment. They were going away with all the other guests. Then saw, & talked to Mr Collins, who was much affected, & after that went with Beatrice into the corridor, where Capt: Munroe, a very goodlooking, nice youmg man, & the men of the Seaforth Highlanders were drawn up. Thanked them all for the sad services they had rendered so well. Also saw Mr Yorke, who I am going to make one of my Grooms in Waiting, who was much affected & looking very ill. He spoke so nicely & sensibly. After this saw, & thanked Gen: Du Plat, who greatly praised the French authorities. Wished Fritz goodbye, who was going away to-night. — Later drove with Alix & Beatrice to the Deanery, & went through the Albert Chapel, where there were still many flowers, to St. George's & down to the vault. Here, nearest to where one enters stood the coffin containing the remains of my dearest child, covered with the flag, & bonnet & claymore still resting on it, as well as some wreaths & crosses. I knelt down, as I was thankful to be able to do, & lent against the end of the coffin & kissed it. Bertie, Fritz, Louis, & Eddy joined us. Gloomy & dreary the vault looked, & I felt it painful to leave the beloved remains there. I took a few flowers away with me, which had lain on the Coffin, at, & the whole way from Cannes. I took the bonnet & claymore off, & brought them. We went into the Choir of the Chapel. Everything had been replaced, but the flowers had been left. We 3 went then to the Mausoleum. — Resting. — Saw Sir Wm Jenner. — Received many telegrams. — Dined with Bertie& Alix. Lenchen came, having just returned from Claremont, where she had left dear Helen wonderfully calm. — Saw the others in the corridor afterwards & then went to my room. Thus ended this terrible, but most impressive day."

© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2012

© Bodleian Libraries © ProQuest

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