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The Funeral of King Edward VII

King Edward VII

Nine reigning monarchs of European states rode yesterday behind the body of King Edward VII as, preceded by a detachment of Life Guards, it was borned through London streets from historic Westminster Hall to the railway train which conveyed it to Windsor. Of brothers and sons of monarchs and heirs apparent or presumptive to European thrones a dozen were in the line. The twelve royal coaches following these contained the women and children belonging to or related to the royal house, envoys of many other royalties, the Special Ambassadors of France, the United States, and Persia, and representatives of the British colonies. Behind marched British soldiers and sailors, colonial troops, and representatives of foreign armies and navies. The procession passed before silent millions.

Mourning dress prevailed in the great crowds, buildings were draped, the flags were at half mast, but the rich variety of color in the uniforms lent splendor to the moving scene. As a pageant it surpassed even Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee. Perhaps the funeral of Edward VII will be remembered as the most splendid ceremonial in history. So many reigning monarchs were never gathered together before, even in the Napoleonic Era. It was a fitting tribute to a monarch of extraordinary popularity, best liked by his subjects since Henry of Agincourt.

Nine kings were present at the funeral of King Edward VII.  King Haakon VII of Norway, Tsar Ferdinand of the Bulgarians, King Manuel II of Portugal and the Algarve, Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany and Prussia, King George I of the Hellenes and King Albert I of the Belgians. Seated, from left to right: King Alfonso XIII of Spain, King George V of the United Kingdom and King Frederick VIII of Denmark.

The Diamond Jubilee of 1897 was a magnificent celebration of the survival of the monarchical institution in a democratic age. Royalty and aristocracy made the show and the multitude looked on, taking no part, except to cheer the Queen because of her burden for years and her virtues. Yesterday's pageant had a far deeper significance. Royalty marched with its military guard, but this was a great people's tribute to a man and a tradition. The Britons still believe in the efficacy of their monarchical institution as a visible symbol of authority and a wholesome curb on dangerous political extravagance. One of the gravest and most impassioned political contests in the nation's history had been temporarily checked that the people might pay reverent respect to an institution they still cherish and intend to preserve. But everyone of the eight visiting monarchs knew well that the British monarchy today exists only by the will of the British millions, and that the nation which yesterday paid tribute so majestically to a popular king is becoming more democratic, more strongly attached to the principle of self-government everyday.

The funeral procession.
The king's funeral procession started at 9:50 in the morning, just as the first minute gun boomed. Queen Victoria's funeral set the precedence for the event. The oak coffin, with the crown, regalia, and insignia of the Order of the Garter thereon, was borne on a gun carriage, as was done at the funeral of Queen Victoria.

The procession passed through Parliament Street and Whitehall. The buildings were heavily draped with black and purple along the way, passing through the Horse Guards' Parade and along the Mall, Marlborough House, Piccadilly and through the Marble Arch. From the park, the procession headed to Edgeware Road to Oxford and Cambridge terraces.

Arriving at the Paddington Station the royal coffin was placed in the funeral car which carried the funeral party to Windsor. The royal saloon was upholstered in purple and white silk, and a catafalque erected in the center supported the coffin. The car was occupied by King George V, Queen Mary, Queen Alexandra, and eight other sovereigns and relatives. Special trains followed with the high officials, foreign representatives, and special envoys.

(From The New York Times, May 20 and 21, 1910)

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