2 February 1901: Queen Victoria’s funeral procession

Britain mourned the death of Queen Victoria by holding a grand state funeral for Britain's then longest-reigning monarch, on this day in 1901.

Britain was plunged into mourning following the death of Queen Victoria, at the age of 81, in January 1901. Her body lay in state for eight days in the dining room of Osborne House, her home on the Isle of Wight. Then the body of Britain's then longest-reigning monarch was escorted to the mainland by a fleet of warships.

It was the end of an era that had seen Britain cover the globe in great swathes of imperial red. Awe-inspiring advances in engineering and science had taken place during Victoria's 63-year reign that had also kept the peace between Britain and the young pretender, Germany.

It was no secret that the soon-to-be Edward VII didn't get on with his near-relative, and Victoria's grandson, German Kaiser Wilhelm II. So it was with good reason that the nation looked to the new century with some trepidation. Just 13 years later, the First World War exploded across Europe.

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The British had also forgotten how to mourn on so grand a scale. The last great state funeral procession had been for the Duke of Wellington back in 1852. But on a sleet-ridden 2 February 1901, Queen Victoria's coffin, draped in white satin, wound its way from London to Windsor on the back of a gun carriage, with all the pomp and ceremony due the passing of a great monarch.

The weather that day was miserable. And the fractious horses had to be unharnessed from the carriage and replaced with a team of sailors. Otherwise, the procession adhered to the Queen's own instructions, so that, in the words of The Times' correspondent, "those who had been her subjects might look upon the moving scene in common grief".

The procession arrived at St George's Chapel, and Victoria was laid to rest with her beloved late husband, Prince Albert, in Frogmore Mausoleum. So attached had they been in marriage that Albert is supposed to have once reassured her, "We don't know in what state we shall meet again; but that we shall recognise each other and be together in eternity I am perfectly certain."

Chris Carter

Chris Carter spent three glorious years reading English literature on the beautiful Welsh coast at Aberystwyth University. Graduating in 2005, he left for the University of York to specialise in Renaissance literature for his MA, before returning to his native Twickenham, in southwest London. He joined a Richmond-based recruitment company, where he worked with several clients, including the Queen’s bank, Coutts, as well as the super luxury, Dorchester-owned Coworth Park country house hotel, near Ascot in Berkshire.

Then, in 2011, Chris joined MoneyWeek. Initially working as part of the website production team, Chris soon rose to the lofty heights of wealth editor, overseeing MoneyWeek’s Spending It lifestyle section. Chris travels the globe in pursuit of his work, soaking up the local culture and sampling the very finest in cuisine, hotels and resorts for the magazine’s discerning readership. He also enjoys writing his fortnightly page on collectables, delving into the fascinating world of auctions and art, classic cars, coins, watches, wine and whisky investing.

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