The similarities and differences between the Queen and Princess Margaret's funerals

·5-min read

The death of Her Majesty the Queen has been a time of great mourning for many people all over the world, but also allowed us to see British pageantry in all its glory.

Her funeral, which takes place on Monday, is the first State Funeral to be broadcast in colour since 1965, when Winston Churchill was given a hero's send-off.

Understandably, people are intrigued as to what will exactly happen on Monday, especially after a week of parades, processions, vigils and grief-etched meet and greets with the general public.

For many Brits, the most vivid example of a 'Royal funeral' would be that of Princess Diana, and already we have seen echoes of that with the Queen's descendants walking behind her coffin. Just last year we bid farewell to Prince Philip, but due to coronavirus restrictions (and his own wishes) it was a pared back event compared to what we can expect when the Queen is laid to rest.

The Queen's sister Princess Margaret died on February 9 2002, aged 71, following a stroke which led to cardiac problems.

Her funeral took place on Friday, February 15 in St George's Chapel, Windsor - the same venue as the committal service being held for the Queen following her state funeral at Westminster Abbey.

While Princess Margaret had a low-key funeral attended by 450 mourners, Westminster Abbey is set to house more than 2,000 official guests for the Queen's funeral on Monday, September 19.

Photo credit: Getty Images
Photo credit: Getty Images

And in addition to the location, guest list and size of the funeral, Women's Health UK looks at the myriad similarities and differences between the siblings' funerals, which occured over 20 years apart.

Similarities

  1. For Princess Margaret's funeral, the royal family dressed in the same all-black dress code that will be required for the Queen's State Funeral. The Queen herself attended in black, after a morning's work at Buckingham Palace. She arrived with Prince Philip in a royal Rolls-Royce. Her children and grandchildren were also dressed in black.

  2. The Queen's committal service following her funeral will take place in St George's Chapel, Windsor, the same venue that hosted Princess Margaret's funeral.

  3. As is the case for the Queen, Princess Margaret's state funeral wasn't the only way the nation commemorated her. A further state memorial service was held on April 15, 2022. For the Queen's funeral, her coffin will travel in a procession from Westminster Abbey to Wellington Arch before being transported to Windsor.

Differences

  1. Princess Margaret's funeral was private and watched from a discreet distance by a few hundred well wishers, whereas the Queen's funeral guest list surpasses 2,000.

  2. Princess Margaret's funeral began five minutes late at 3.05pm BST, after senior members of the Royal Family, Queen Elizabeth, Prince Charles, and Princes William and Harry, arrived. But even without that five minute difference, its start time is much later than that of the Queen's funeral, which is scheduled for 11am BST.

    Photo credit: Getty Images
    Photo credit: Getty Images
  3. While the Queen will be buried with her husband Prince Philip, and next to her father King George VI and mother, Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, Princess Margaret was cremated. Her body was driven the eight miles to Slough crematorium for a municipal cremation - it was the princess' longstanding wish to be cremated. But the fact she was given a funeral service in the same surroundings as her father, King George VI on the 5oth anniversary of his death did create some commonality.

  4. At the time of Princess Margaret's funeral, shops generally stayed open for business, but some displayed pictures of the princess on their windows.

    Photo credit: Tim Graham - Getty Images
    Photo credit: Tim Graham - Getty Images
  5. Following Princess Margaret's funeral, mourners retired to the castle for tea while the coffin was taken to the crematorium, in the company of only the princess's former private secretary and Lord Luce, the lord chamberlain, representing the Queen. Her body waited behind those of local people who died during that time, including Norah Cross aged 94, Beryl Whitty, 85, and Ann Head, 94. Following the Queen's funeral, however, her coffin will travel in a procession from Westminster Abbey to Wellington Arch before being transported to Windsor. The State Hearse will travel to St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle via the Long Walk. On Tuesday, King Charles and Camilla, Queen Consort will go to Belfast and then to Hillsborough Castle to view an exhibition of the late Queen's life.

  6. Despite several camera crew members being present for Princess Margaret's funeral, the most the public saw of the ceremony was the hearse making its way to Slough after the princess' funeral service. Contrastingly, the Queen's State Funeral will be broadcast by all major TV channels on the day. ITV will run uninterrupted coverage of the Queen's state funeral. The BBC will too have rolling coverage between 8am and 5:05pm, with reports from Westminster Abbey and St George's Chapel in Windsor Castle during the time at which Her Majesty is laid to rest. Sky will begin broadcasting the funeral from 5am.

    Photo credit: Tim Graham - Getty Images
    Photo credit: Tim Graham - Getty Images
  7. The Queen Mother was alive, but frail at the age of 101, and was present for Princess Margaret's funeral. She was driven to the funeral via a Ford people carrier from her home at the Royal Lodge across Windsor great park. She was understood to be in reasonably good health after weeks of being isolated at Sandringham Castle with a chest infection. She took a one-hour helicopter flight to make the funeral.

  8. While the exact music list for the Queen's funeral remains to be seen, for her 90th birthday playlist some of her favourites were revealed, including 'Sing' by Gary Barlow and the Commonwealth Band featuring the Military Wives;'The White Cliffs of Dover' by Vera Lynn and 'Milanollo Regimental March' by Quick March of the Coldstream Guards). Some among these may well be played at her State Funeral on Monday. But for Princess Margaret's funeral, songs included Brahms's Second Symphony and Tchaikovsky's 'Swan Lake' together with the 'Last Post' and a lament played by a piper from the Royal Highland Fusiliers.

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