State funeral of Victoria, Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, Empress of India
Queen Victoria
Queen Victoria's funeral procession
Date2 February 1901 (1901-02-02)
LocationSt George's Chapel, Windsor Castle (official ceremony)
ParticipantsBritish royal family and members of various other royal houses
BurialFrogmore Mausoleum, Windsor Great Park (resting place)

The state funeral of Victoria, Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, Empress of India, occurred on 2 February 1901. It was one of the largest gatherings of European royalty ever to take place.


Queen Victoria on her deathbed, 1901
Queen Victoria on her deathbed, 1901

In 1897, Victoria had written instructions for her funeral, which was to be military as befitting a soldier's daughter and the head of the army,[1] and white instead of black.[2] On 25 January, her body was lifted into the coffin by her sons Edward VII and Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaught, and her grandson the German Emperor Wilhelm II.[3] She was dressed in a white dress and her wedding veil.[4] An array of mementos commemorating her extended family, friends and servants were laid in the coffin with her, at her request, by her doctor and dressers. A dressing gown that had belonged to her husband Albert who had died 40 years earlier, was placed by her side, along with a plaster cast of his hand, while a lock of John Brown's hair, along with a picture of him, was placed in her left hand concealed from the view of the family by a carefully positioned bunch of flowers.[1][5] Items of jewellery placed on Victoria included the wedding ring of John Brown's mother, given to her by Brown in 1883.[1] Her funeral was held on Saturday, 2 February, in St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle, and after two days of lying-in-state, she was interred beside Prince Albert in the Royal Mausoleum at Frogmore at Windsor Great Park.[6]

Westminster Abbey. Special Service To be held on the occasion of the Funeral of Her Late Majesty Queen Victoria, Saturday, February 2nd, 1901, At Two o'clock. Order of Service
Westminster Abbey. Special Service To be held on the occasion of the Funeral of Her Late Majesty Queen Victoria, Saturday, February 2nd, 1901, At Two o'clock. Order of Service

The state funeral of Queen Victoria took place in February 1901; it had been 64 years since the last burial of a monarch. Victoria left strict instructions regarding the service and associated ceremonies and instituted a number of changes, several of which set a precedent for state (and indeed ceremonial) funerals that have taken place since. First, she disliked the preponderance of funereal black; henceforward, there would be no black cloaks, drapes or canopy, and Victoria requested a white pall for her coffin. Second, she expressed a desire to be buried as "a soldier's daughter".[7] The procession, therefore, became much more a military procession, with the peers, privy counsellors and judiciary no longer taking part en masse. Her pallbearers were equerries rather than dukes (as had previously been customary), and for the first time, a gun carriage was employed to convey the monarch's coffin. Third, Victoria requested that there should be no public lying in state. This meant that the only event in London on this occasion was a gun carriage procession from one railway station to another: Victoria having died at Osborne House on the Isle of Wight, her body was conveyed by boat and train to Waterloo Station, then by gun carriage to Paddington Station and then by train to Windsor for the funeral service itself.

The Passing of a Great Queen; painting by William Wyllie[8]
The Passing of a Great Queen; painting by William Wyllie[8]
The funeral procession
The funeral procession

The rare sight of a state funeral cortège travelling by ship provided a striking spectacle: Victoria's body was carried on board HMY Alberta from Cowes to Gosport, with a suite of yachts following conveying the new king, Edward VII, and other mourners. Minute guns were fired by the assembled fleet as the yacht passed by. Victoria's body remained on board ship overnight before being conveyed by gun carriage to the railway station the following day for the train journey to London. Victoria broke convention by having a white draped coffin.

At Windsor, when the royal coffin was loaded atop the gun carriage for the procession and the horses took the weight, an eyelet hole on the gun carriage failed, breaking the hitch to the hearse. An attendant Royal Guard from HMS Excellent was shortly then ordered to haul the gun carriage with ropes instead, a disruption which subsequently became state funeral tradition.[9] Granddaughter of Queen Victoria, Princess Alice, Countess of Athlone, was present and observed that the Royal Artillery, responsible for the horses and the gun carriage, "were furious... humiliated beyond words" by the detachment of the Royal Navy.[10]

Victoria's children had married into the great royal families of Europe and a number of foreign monarchs were in attendance including Kaiser Wilhelm of Germany as well as the heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne Archduke Franz Ferdinand.[11]


Immediate family

Other descendants of the late Queen's paternal grandfather, King George III and their families:

Extended family

Other foreign royalty

See also


  1. ^ a b c Matthew, H. C. G.; Reynolds, K. D. (2004; online edition October 2009) "Victoria (1819–1901)", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/36652, retrieved 18 October 2010 (subscription required for online access)
  2. ^ Hibbert, p. 497; Longford, p. 563
  3. ^ St Aubyn, p. 598
  4. ^ Longford, p. 563
  5. ^ Hibbert, p. 498
  6. ^ Longford, p. 565; St Aubyn, p. 600
  7. ^ Rappaport, Helen (2003). Queen Victoria: a biographical companion. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO.
  8. ^ Wyllie depicts a scene during the funeral of Queen Victoria. The royal yacht, HMY Alberta, carrying the Queen's body, arrives in Gosport in the late afternoon of 1 February 1901, with the setting sun behind her. The royal standard flies at half-mast, and surrounding the small vessel are several escorting destroyers. In the background the anchored battleships fire salutes. Following behind the Alberta is the larger royal yacht HMY Victoria and Albert, flying the royal standard and carrying King Edward VII and other royal mourners.
  9. ^ "Memorials and Monuments in Portsmouth - Field Gun Carriage". Retrieved 5 June 2021.
  10. ^ Victorian Ladies 2/2 Princess Alice & Queen Victoria's Funeral, retrieved 5 June 2021
  11. ^ "The Funeral at Windsor of Queen Victoria. The Royal Windsor by ThamesWeb". Retrieved 22 January 2017.
  12. ^ "The London Gazette, 22 May 1901".