Buckingham Palace has confirmed that the Queen will be buried at St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle.
On Monday, State Hearse will travel from her funeral in Westminster Abbey to Windsor, arriving at the chapel for a committal service via the Long Walk, the majestic tree-lined avenue that leads to the castle.
St George’s Chapel is a place steeped in royal history and is the final resting place of 10 English monarchs, including the Queen’s father, King George VI, who is buried there with his wife, Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother.
The Queen will be buried in a chapel built onto St George’s during her own reign for her father. His body was moved there when the resting place – named The King George VI Memorial Chapel – was completed in 1969. It is also the place where the ashes of The Queen’s sister, Princess Margaret, are interred.
Engraved on a panel on the gates to the chapel are the poignant words from a 1908 poem (The Gate of the Year by Minnie Louise Haskins): “I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year ‘Give me light that I may tread safely into the unknown.’”
With such a strong connection to her beloved family, it is fitting that it will be the Queen’s own final resting place. Prince Philip, her husband of 73 years, who currently lies in the Royal Vault in another part of St George’s Chapel, will be moved to be with her.
Like Windsor Castle itself, where the Queen and Princess Margaret spent much of World War II and which became the Queen’s main residence in latter years, the St George’s Chapel, with its striking perpendicular style of gothic architecture, has a very special place in the life of the royal family.
Originally founded in the reign of King Edward III in the 14th Century and then substantially restored by King George III in the late 1700s. It was further altered by Queen Victoria, who is buried nearby in the Royal mausoleum at Frogmore near Windsor, with her husband Prince Albert.
While it has been a place of mourning, with the masked figure of the Queen sitting alone at the funeral of Prince Philip in April last year scorched into all our memories, the chapel has also been the scene of great joy. In recent times it was the location of the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan in May 2018, and also of Princess Eugenie and Jack Brooksbank, later that same year.
Prince Harry was baptised at St George’s, Prince William confirmed there and King Charles III and Camilla, the Queen Consort, held a service there after their wedding at the nearby Windsor Guildhall. The Earl and Countess of Wessex also got married there. It is where the Queen would worship each Easter Sunday, often joined by members of the family that she loved so much.
Far from being a cold and sterile setting, as home to the oldest order of chivalry in Britain – the Order of the Garter, created by King Edward III in Medieval times – it is a place steeped in history and emotion, evident in the colourful banners of the Order that hang above the choir stalls.
Thousands of people from around the world visit Windsor Castle each year, with entry to the chapel included with their ticket. First-time guests are often left stunned by the beauty before them. Most eyes are drawn immediately skyward to the soaring stone ceiling, completed in the 15th Century, decorated with an array of colourful heraldic roof bosses. There is also the famous West Window, said to be the third largest stained glass window in England.
With so many monarchs buried there, it is a place where the history of England can be felt more strongly than almost anywhere else. Among those buried in the chapel is King Henry VIII who lies there with his third wife, Jane Seymour.
The Queen’s burial will mark a new chapter in the history of the chapel. The people of Windsor will no doubt feel a mixture of sadness and pride, that the Queen has come home to Windsor, a place she loved so much and which loved her back.
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