The Queen's Body Guard
of the Yeomen of the Guar

Royal Funerals
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When Henry VII died in 1509 his coffin was carried to his tomb in Westminster Abbey by his Body Guard.  At the funeral of Henry VIII (1507) and subsequent Royal funerals until the reign of Charles II (1684) the Gentlemen of the Privy Chamber claimed that honour and the Body Guard formed part of the funeral procession. From Charles II until the death of Queen Victoria in 1901 the Yeomen of the Guard had the privilege again of carrying the Sovereign's coffin at funerals.

It has been suggested that the honour reverted to the Body Guard because the Gentlemen of the Privy Chamber lacked the strength to carry with dignity the heavy coffin and the task required 'men of more robust habit'

Queen Victoria wished that her funeral 'be as simple as that of a daughter of a soldier'. Her Majesty wished that Yeomen of the Guard should not carry her coffin thus avoiding any suggestion that the funeral was a State occasion; she requested that Grenadier Guards carried her coffin and that honour has remained theirs since.

The Yeomen of the Guard stand at each corner of the catafalque, heads bowed, partisans reversed and dressed in black caules (capes).  Where the Yeomen Guard stands depends upon the status of the Royal laying-in-state.  At the laying-of-state of a Monarch the Yeomen Guard stand on the ground next to the catafalque; at that of Queen Elizabeth the Queen's Mother the Yeomen Guard stood on the third step.  Whatever the position, they are joined at the catafalque by Gentlemen at Arms or other such Officers that stand nearest to the coffin.

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Copyright 2008 The Yeomen of the Queen's Body Guard of the Yeomen of the Guard
Last modified: Wednesday, 13 July 2011 11:08
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