Category Archives: Famous Graves

Royal Family burials part 4 : the Stuarts

Children of Charles I by Sir Anthony van Dyck (1637)

L to R: Mary, James, Charles, Elizabeth, and Anne. Not pictured, because not born yet, is Henrietta, the ancestress of the current Stuart claimants to the British throne.

I must confess, I have a bit of a mental block about the Stuarts. I can never remember that Charles II and James II are brothers, and then I get caught up in trying to figure out what relation Queen Anne was to her successor, George I (second cousins, I think - they have a great-grandfather, James I, in common). Honestly, take me back to the Wars of the Roses where one side was called Henry and the other side was called Richard and Edward, and it was all so simple. (On the sons of Edward III, I'm your woman. Not only do I correctly picture John of Gaunt as an emaciated grandee, I picture Thomas of Woodstock as a Plantagenet hippy.)

Anyway. When it comes to burials, the Stuarts are pretty simple. Most of them are in vaults under the Henry VII Chapel in Westminster Abbey. Several of them had monuments planned but never executed, so most of them are commemorated by small stones in the Chapel's floor. Here we go in detail:

  • James I and his queen Anne of Denmark are in vaults beneath the Henry VII Chapel.
  • Charles I is in St. George's Chapel Windsor, in the Henry VIII vault (with Big Fat Hal himself, Jane Seymour and one of Queen Anne's babies); William IV put a rather nice memorial stone in the Chapel floor.
  • Charles' queen, Henrietta Maria of France, was buried at the Saint Denis Basilica near Paris (with her father, Henri IV of France); her remains were thrown into a common grave after the mob raided the Bourbon vault in 1793.
  • Charles II is in the Henry VII Chapel; a wax effigy stood over his grave for many years and is now in the Abbey museum.
  • His queen Catherine of Braganza returned to Portugal after his death and is buried at the Jerónimos Monastery, in Belém, Lisbon.
  • James II died in exile in France. He was buried in the Chapel of Saint Edmund in the Church of the English Benedictines in the Rue St. Jacques in Paris. In 1793, his tomb was set upon by the mob and his remains scattered. However, his viscera were buried near his place of death in the Parish Church of Saint-Germain-en-Laye; these were rediscovered in 1824 and reburied in the church. (I'm assuming the separation of the body was to do with preserving it while preparations for a state funeral were made; anyone want to correct me?)
  • Lady Anne Hyde, James' first wife and the mother of the two queens who succeeded him, is buried in the Mary Queen of Scots vault in the Henry VII Chapel.
  • Mary of Modena, James' second wife, was buried with him in Paris and also had her remains destroyed in 1793. Her viscera were reburied with his in 1824.
  • Mary II and her husband and cousin William III are buried under the Henry VII chapel. A joint monument to them was planned but never executed, though wax effigies were made of them too, and can be seen in the Abbey museum. Mary's spectacular funeral cost £50,000
  • Mary's sister, Queen Anne, and her husband Prince George of Denmark and Norway, Duke of Cumberland, are buried under the Henry VII Chapel. Anne's body was so obese and swollen by gout that it apparently had to be carried in a coffin that was almost square.

Stuart tomb in the VaticanOf course, I don't want to take sides, so:

  • James II's son, James Francis Edward, Prince of Wales, a.k.a. James III, a.k.a. The Old Pretender, died in Rome and was buried in the crypt of St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican.
  • His son, Prince Charles Edward Louis John Casimir Sylvester Maria Stuart, a.k.a. Bonnie Prince Charlie, a.k.a. the Young Pretender, was initially buried in the Cathedral of Frascati where his brother was bishop. After his brother's death, his remains were moved to St. Peter's Basilica, though his heart was left in an urn in Frascati.

And for the republicans:

Visiting: Westminster Abbey is not cheap: £16 per adult to visit as of time of writing. Check opening times before you go; sometimes it's closed for religion. Despite all that, it's utterly spectacular and everyone should go at least twice in their lifetime.

Stuart children painting by van Dyck and Jacobite tomb in Rome courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

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Royal Family burials part 3 : Hanoverians, George III and his decendents

Royal tombs, Kensal GreenThe astonishing thing about the Hanoverian dynasty is that we begin it in (what feels like) the distant past, and end it in ordinary London cemeteries, and in the memory of our (or my, anyway) grandparents. This is mostly due to the astonishing reigns of Georges II and III, who notched up 93 years of kinging between them.

But let's kick off with George I: king of England by virtue of being the great-grandson of King James I, he was very, very German: Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg and Elector of Hanover, his Protestant religion won him the throne of England. He was the last King of England to be buried outside our island, at the Leineschloss. After WW2, his remains were moved to the Herrenhausen.

His wife, Sophia Dorothea of Celle died after being imprisoned by her husband in the Castle of Ahlden for the last 30 years of her life as punishment for an affair. George I forbad mourning on her death from (probably) liver failure, and Sophia was initially buried in Ahlden's cellar. Her body was later moved to Celle and buried beside her parents.

George II, son of George I and Sophia, was another last: the last King of England to be buried in Westminster Abbey. His queen, Caroline of Ansbach was also buried there, along with most of their children, including George II's eldest son, Frederick Prince of Wales, who died before his father.

Unlike his father and grandfather, George III was born in England, in London at Norfolk House in 1738. After the third-longest reign of any British monarch, he died at Windsor Castle in January 1820, and is buried in St. George's Chapel, beside his wife, Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, the second-longest-serving British royal consort, after the current Duke of Edinburgh. (Yes, I'm counting: I'm not a royalist but these stats are fun.) You want to know what happened to their children? There are fifteen of them... Okay, here goes:

  • George became Regent and then King George IV on his father's death. He's buried in St. George's Chapel.
  • Frederick Duke of York: SGC, Windsor.
  • King William IV: SGC, Windsor.
  • Charlotte, the Princess Royal, later Queen of of Württemberg is buried in the royal vault at Ludwigsburg Palace.
  • Edward, Duke of Kent: SGC, Windsor
  • Princess Augusta: SGC, Windsor
  • Princess Elizabeth, Landgravine of Hesse-Homburg is buried in the Mausoleum of the Landgraves, Homburg.
  • Ernest Augustus, King of Hanover is buried in a mausoleum in the Herrenhausen gardens.
  • Augustus Frederick, Duke of Sussex is in Kensal Green Cemetery
  • Adolphus, Duke of Cambridge: SGC, Windsor. His son and successor, George Duke of Cambridge, is also in Kensal Green.
  • Mary, Duchess of Gloucester and Edinburgh: SGC, Windsor
  • Princess Sophia is (of course) in Kensal Green too.
  • Prince Octavius died aged 4, Prince Alfred died aged 2 and Princess Amelia died aged 27: all in SGC, Windsor

So we shipped some of them off to Germany, and some got buried, like good royalty, in St. George's Chapel. But Sophia and Augustus were buried in Kensal Green. Augustus died in 1843 and specified in his will that he did not want a state funeral. He was the only adult son of George III not to have a military or naval career, and married twice in contravention of the Royal Marriages Act (in short, he failed to gain his father's permission for the marriages). I imagine a younger son, for whom royalty is a restraint that's never going to be thrown off: he had enough older brothers to know he would never be king.

For Sophia, too, royal blood must have been a burden. Forced to live a cloistered life with her mother, when she died 5 years after Augustus, she had chosen to be buried near him rather than at Windsor. It's hard to think of burial in Kensal Green as an act of rebellion, but for these two, as for their nephew, I think it was.

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

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Highgate East : some famous graves

Mostly ones that are new since last time I visited, and the inevitable Karl Marx. Douglas Adams' grave has pencils stuck into the grass beside it too, which I thought rather nice.

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Kensal Green isn’t “sad” or “forgotten”

Of all the things that the Daily Mail writes which make me angry (and there are many), cemeteries aren't usually high on the list. But they've managed it today, with a bit of filler about the last Duke of Cambridge, George, the second Duke (grandson to George III), who died in 1904.

The piece, obviously a follow up to Prince William's new title, is titled Sad resting place of last Duke of Cambridge, and begins "The last Duke of Cambridge is buried in a forgotten tomb, overgrown with weeds, in a North London cemetery." By coincidence, I happened to visit that very spot today. It's right in the middle of Kensal Green Cemetery (just to the west of the main chapel), and though it didn't have a cortege of mourners outside it, there were plenty of people passing by and at least one person (me) took a photograph of it. Unlike the Daily Mail reporter, I didn't lie down in the grass to make it look "overgrown" either (it isn't).

Mausoleum of Duke of Cambridge

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Royal Family burials part 2: Victoria and Albert

Royal Mausoleum, Frogmore

Image courtesy of Wikipedia

Queen Victoria and Prince Albert are buried in the Royal Mausoleum at Frogmore House in Windsor. Victoria ordered this to be built within four days of Albert's death of typhoid in 1861. She didn't join him there for another forty years, but judging by the photos I've seen of the interior, the two of them rest in just about the most sumptuous burial spot anywhere in Britain. The Royal Mausoleum is normally open to the public on a few days a year, but is closed during the whole of 2011 for restoration work.

Queen Victoria's mother, Victoria Duchess of Kent, is buried in another mausoleum close to her daughter's (Albert and the Duchess of Kent died in the same annus horribilis  year). The Queen's father, Prince Edward, Duke of Kent, is buried in St George's Chapel, Windsor: he predeceased his wife by 41 years.

As for their children, there are several buried beside their parents at Frogmore, while the rest are mostly in Germany. Forgive me for numbering them, but nine is a lot.

  1. Victoria, the Princess Royal, married Kaiser Wilhelm III and became Empress of Germany. She is buried with her husband in the royal mausoleum at Potsdam, Germany.
  2. Edward VIII is buried, like most recent sovereigns, in St George's Chapel Windsor.
  3. Princess Alice, Grand Duchess of Hesse, is buried in Sankt-Ludwigs-Kirche, Darmstadt in Germany.
  4. Alfred inherited his father's title of Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, as well as being Duke of Edinburgh, Earl of Kent and Earl of Ulster. He died of throat cancer and is buried in the ducal mausoleum in the public Glockenburg Cemetery of Coburg. (His only son shot himself during his parents' 25th wedding anniversary celebrations after a scandal with a mistress.)
  5. Princess Helena, who became Princess Christian of Schleswig-Holstein on her marriage, was originally buried in St George's Chapel on her death in 1923, but was moved to the Royal Burial Ground on its consecration in 1928.
  6. Princess Louise, Duchess of Argyll, died in 1939 aged 91 and was cremated at Golders Green Crematorium (I believe that makes her the first member of the Royal Family to be cremated). Her ashes were placed initially in St George's Chapel, and later moved to the Royal Burial Ground at Frogmore.
  7. Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaught and Strathearn - the longest-living male member of the British Royal Family - is also buried in the Royal Burial Ground.
  8. Prince Leopold died of haemophilia aged 30. He is buried in the Albert Memorial Chapel in Windsor, and had the ultimate misfortune of having an elegy on his death composed by William McGonagall.
  9. Princess Beatrice is buried beside her husband, Prince Henry of Battenberg, in St Mildred's Church, Whippingham on the Isle of Wight.
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