Death of George VI (6 February 1952)
The death of King George VI came as something of a shock. While it was known that His Majesty was in poor health (he had half a lung removed the previous year as a result of cancer), it was not thought that his death was imminent.
His Majesty had been seen a week earlier when he waved goodbye to The Princess Elizabeth and The Duke of Edinburgh as they departed on their Commonwealth Tour. On February 5th The King retired to bed around 11p.m. after a good days shoot, he was heard to open a window just after midnight. When his valet brought the breakfast tray just after 7 a.m. the next morning, he found The King dead. The cogs of state went to work and the procedures for The King’s funeral were put in place.
The Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, was informed along with the Royal Family and was said to have been devastated. The King’s funeral plans had long been agreed upon and it was just a matter of carrying them out. His Majesty’s mortal remains lay in the Church of St. Mary Magdalene in Sandringham guarded by estate workers before being taken on February 11th, by gun carriage, to Wolferton station and on by train to King’s Cross. A state procession then took His Majesty’s remains to Westminster Hall to lie in state.
The Queen, Queen Elizabeth, Queen Mary and The Princess Margaret stood on the platform to receive The King’s Body (Queen Mary despairing at the “short” skirts worn by the other Royal ladies in mourning).
The King’s body embarked on its final journey on February 15th when it was conveyed by train (No. 4082 Windsor Castle, an engine renamed for the occasion) to Windsor for a state funeral. The Royal ladies were clad in black dresses and black crepe veils and wore their Royal Family Order of King George VI. On this sombre occasion the new Queen made her final curtsey as her beloved father was lowered into the Royal Vault.
However, this was not the end of The King’s journey. His remains were moved again in the early 1960’s to a new chapel inside St. George’s Chapel, and 50 years later he was joined by his consort Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother. Their gravestone reads simply: George VI and Elizabeth.
Read more about George VI here.
Filed under Historical Royals, The United Kingdom
Tagged Anniversary, Death, Funeral, George VI of the United Kingdom.