Posted by: Graham | July 2, 2009

King Edward the VII of England buried Fri the 20th Day of May 1910

Nine Monarchs

Nine Monarchs

The funeral of Edward VII, which took place two weeks after his death, was one of the most striking gatherings of that era. It was still a time of monarchy and so the elected representatives of countries were few and far between; Theodore Roosevelt and Stéphen Pichon representing the United States and France respectively, were consigned somewhat to the back, behind an array of royalty many of whom were to lose their kingdoms and/or their lives within the next decade.

A few months following the funeral the House of Commons were asked to vote £40,500 to the Royal Household to cover funeral expenses, one of those who objected was Keir Hardie the first independent Labour MP in Parliament argued “But the point is that the House of Commons and the House of Lords, the two Houses of Parliament as such, were entirely excluded from recognition in connection with the ceremonials.”

Final Gathering of Royalty

Final Gathering of Royalty

The funeral was also striking as it brought together relatives (in many cases) who were shortly to become enemies. So the German Emperor Wilhelm II rode alongside George V, both dressed in the uniform of a British Field Marshal. Wilhelm was Edward’s nephew and Edward, with good reason, was known as The Uncle of Europe.

Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria was present; his assassination four years later in Sarajevo would spark the conflict which was to end so many kingdoms and empires, including his own Hapsburg Austro-Hungarian Empire. Grand Duke Michael Alexandrovich of Russia, the brother of the Russian Tsar was present; he was killed by the Bolsheviks in 1918. Prince Yusuf Izzeddin, the Crown Prince of the Ottoman Empire was present, by 1922 this Empire which had lasted since the 1299 was finished.


Caesar, the King's dog

Amongst all this pomp came a more human touch. The King’s favourite horse was led with his boots reversed in the stirrups. Behind that was the King’s white terrier, Caesar, led by a Highland gillie. These two animals were placed ahead of all the monarchy in the funeral procession. I have to say I think that this is wonderfully British. Animals, then royalty then elected politicians!

The funeral procession started at Buckingham Palace in London and moved through the streets of London to Paddington Station. Then a steam train took the coffin and funeral party to Windsor Central station. Naval ratings pulled the coffin on a gun carriage up to Windsor Castle and to Saint George’s Chapel where the the King was buried. On the way back to London the train was forced to take the slow track because of a mishap to an engine in Slough. Given the decimation of the monarchy, which was to take place over the next decade, they may have wished that the train had never made it back to London.



New York Times

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