Death and state funeral of Edward VII

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Death and state funeral of Edward VII
Funeral of Edward VII -1910 -cropped.JPG
The funeral procession of King Edward VII, passing through Windsor
  • 6 May 1910 (1910-05-06)
  • (death)
  • 20 May 1910 (1910-05-20)
  • (state funeral)
ParticipantsBritish royal family

The state funeral of Edward VII, King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and Emperor of India, occurred on Friday, 20 May 1910.

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


The body of the late King lying on bed, 20 May 1910

On 27 April 1910 the King returned to Buckingham Palace from France, suffering from severe bronchitis. Queen Alexandra returned from visiting her brother, George I of Greece, in Corfu a week later on 5 May.

On 6 May, Edward suffered several heart attacks, but refused to go to bed, saying, "No, I shall not give in; I shall go on; I shall work to the end."[2] Between moments of faintness, his son the Prince of Wales (shortly to be King George V) told him that his horse, Witch of the Air, had won at Kempton Park that afternoon. The King replied, "Yes, I have heard of it. I am very glad": his final words.[3] At 11:30 p.m. he lost consciousness for the last time and was put to bed. He died 15 minutes later.[2]

Alexandra refused to allow Edward's body to be moved for eight days afterwards, though she allowed small groups of visitors to enter his room.[4]


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

On 11 May, the King was dressed in his uniform and placed in a massive oak coffin, which was moved on 14 May to the throne room, where it was sealed and lay in state. Following that private lying in state,[5] on 17 May the coffin was taken in procession to Westminster Hall, where there was a public lying in state.[6] 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. A short service was held at the arrival of the coffin, with the combined choirs of Westminster Abbey and the Chapel Royal singing the hymn Praise, my soul, the King of heaven at the request of Queen Mary, although it was noted that their voices were drowned by the accompanying military band.[5]

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, Emperor Wilhelm II of Germany, 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 emperor was taken in through another entrance while the public continued to file past.[7] An estimated half a million people visited the hall during the three days that it was open.[8]

State funeral[edit]

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.[9] 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 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.[10]

Contemporary photograph showing 'the late King's charger and favourite dog' walking in front of his coffin in the State funeral procession.
Ceremonial funeral procession of King Edward VII passing through the streets of London on 20 May 1910. Views of the moving coffin, heads of state walking behind the coffin, the royal carriage, and various marching military units. Attending the ceremony were Kaiser Wilhelm II, kings of Spain, Portugal, Denmark, Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, and Theodore Roosevelt.

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. Including other participants, 70 states were represented. The funeral procession saw a horseback procession, followed by 11 carriages. Caesar, the late King's dogs led the funeral procession with a highlander walking behind the carriage that carried the King's coffin. From Paddington Station, a funeral train conveyed the mourners to Windsor.[5] 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.[11] 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.[5] Alexandra also requested two hymns that were sung by the congregation, My God, my Father, while I stray and Now the labourer's task is o'er; this was an innovation at royal state funerals.[12]

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.[13]


Tomb of King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra

Edward's body was temporarily interred in the Royal Vault at Windsor under the Albert Memorial Chapel.[14] On the instructions of Queen Alexandra in 1919, a monument in the South Aisle was designed and executed by Bertram Mackennal, featuring tomb effigies of the King and Queen in white marble mounted on a black and green marble sarcophagus, where both bodies were interred two years after the Queen Mother's death on 22 April 1927.[14] Their caskets had been placed in front of the altar in the Albert Memorial Chapel after Alexandra's death in November 1925.[14] The monument includes a depiction of Edward's favourite dog, Caesar, lying at his feet.[15]


As per report in London Gazette.[16]

British royal family[edit]

Foreign royalty[edit]

The Nine Sovereigns at Windsor for the funeral of King Edward VII, photographed on 20 May 1910. Standing, from left to right: Haakon VII of Norway, Ferdinand of Bulgaria, Manuel II of Portugal, Wilhelm II of Germany, George I of Greece and Albert I of Belgium. Seated, from left to right: Alfonso XIII of Spain, George V of the United Kingdom and Frederick VIII of Denmark.
Procession of the Nine Kings, an artist's impression by Harry Payne.

Other dignitaries[edit]


See also[edit]



  1. ^ Tuchman 2014, p. 1.
  2. ^ a b Bentley-Cranch, p. 151
  3. ^ Matthew, H. C. G. (September 2004; online edition May 2006) "Edward VII (1841–1910)" Archived 2 March 2016 at the Wayback Machine, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/32975, retrieved 24 June 2009 (subscription or UK public library membership required)
  4. ^ Ridley, p. 558
  5. ^ a b c d Range, Matthias (2016). British Royal and State Funerals: Music and Ceremonial since Elizabeth I. Boydell Press. pp. 277–278. ISBN 978-1783270927.
  6. ^ "Plaque: Westminster Hall - Edward VII". London Remembers. Retrieved 23 November 2019.
  7. ^ Hibbert, Christopher (2007). Edward VII: The Last Victorian King. Basingstoke, Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan. p. 318. ISBN 978-1-4039-8377-0.
  8. ^ Quigley, Christine (2005). The Corpse: A History. Jefferson NC: McFarland & Co. p. 67. ISBN 978-0786424498.
  9. ^ Hopkins, John Castell (1910). The Life of King Edward VII. Palala Press (2016 reprint). p. 342. ISBN 978-1356057740.
  10. ^ Weinreb & Hibbert 1992, p. 66
  11. ^ Maggs, Colin (2011). The Branch Lines of Berkshire. Stroud, Gloucestershire: Amberley Publishing. p. 10. ISBN 978-1848683471.
  12. ^ Range 2016, p. 281
  13. ^ Todd Van Beck, "The Death and State Funeral of Sir Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill", part II, in Canadian Funeral News (October 2012), Vol. 40 Issue 10, p. 10 (online Archived 2014-03-16 at the Wayback Machine)
  14. ^ a b c Rainbird, Stephen Geoffrey (October 2015). "Expatriatism: A New Platform for Shaping Australian Artistic Practice in the Late Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Centuries – A Case Study of Six Artists Working in Paris and London" (PDF). University of Tasmania. Retrieved 4 March 2023.
  15. ^ Dodson, Aidan (2004). The Royal Tombs of Great Britain: An Illustrated History. Gerald Duckworth & Co Ltd. p. 145. ISBN 978-0715633106.
  16. ^ "No. 28401". The London Gazette (Supplement). 26 July 1910.
  17. ^ Tuchman 2014, p. 6.


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