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Queen Victoria Dies

The Death of the Longest Reigning British Monarch

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Queen Victoria was the longest reigning British monarch in history, ruling the United Kingdom from 1837 to 1901. Her death on January 22, 1901 at age 81 was mourned around the world and signaled an end to the Victorian Era.

Queen Victoria Dies

For months, Queen Victoria's health had been failing. She had lost her appetite and started looking frail and thin. She would tire more easily and would often have bouts of confusion.

Then, on January 17, 1901, Queen Victoria's health took a severe turn for the worse. When the queen woke up, her personal physician, Dr. James Reid, noticed that the left side of her face had started to sag. Also, her speech had become slightly slurred. She had suffered one of several small strokes.

By the following day, the queen's health was worse. She laid in bed all day, unaware of who was by her bedside.

Early in the morning of January 19, Queen Victoria seemed to rally. She asked Dr. Reid if she were better, to which he assured her that she was. However, very soon thereafter, she again slipped out of consciousness.

It had become obvious to Dr. Reid that Queen Victoria was dying. He summoned her children and grandchildren. At 6:30 p.m. on January 22, 1901, Queen Victoria died, surrounded by her family, at the Osborne House on the Isle of Wight.

Preparing the Coffin

Queen Victoria had left very detailed instructions as to how she wanted her funeral. This included very specific things she wanted inside her coffin. Many of the items were from her beloved husband, Albert, who had died 40 years earlier in 1861.

On January 25, 1901, Dr. Reid carefully placed the items that Queen Victoria had requested in the bottom of her coffin. These things included Albert's dressing gown, a plaster cast of Albert's hand, and photographs.

When that was done, Queen Victoria's body was lifted into the coffin with the help of her son Albert (the new king), her grandson William (the German Kaiser), and her son Arthur (the Duke of Connaught).

Then, as instructed, Dr. Reid helped place Queen Victoria's wedding veil over her face and, once the others had departed, placed a picture of John Brown in her right hand, which he covered with some flowers.

When all was ready, the coffin was closed and then carried to the dining room where it was covered with the Union Jack (Britain's flag) while it lay in state.

The Funeral Procession

On February 1, 1901, Queen Victoria's coffin was moved from Osborne House and placed on the ship Alberta, which carried the queen's coffin across the Solent to Portsmouth. On February 2, the coffin was transported by train to Victoria Station in London.

From Victoria to Paddington, the queen's coffin was carried by gun carriage, since Queen Victoria had requested a military funeral. She had also wanted a white funeral and so the gun carriage was pulled by eight white horses.

The streets along the funeral route were crowded with spectators who wanted to get a last glimpse of the queen. As the carriage passed by, everyone remained silent. All that could be heard were the clattering of the horses' hooves, the jangling of swords, and the distant boom of gun salutes.

Once at Paddington, the queen's coffin was placed upon a train and taken to Windsor. At Windsor the coffin was again placed on a gun carriage pulled by white horses. However, this time, the horses began to act up and were so unruly that they broke their harness. Since the front of the funeral procession were unaware of the problem, they had already marched up Windsor Street before they were stopped and turned around.

Quickly, alternate arrangements had to be made. The naval guard of honor found a communication cord and were able to turn it into an impromptu harness and the sailors themselves then pulled the queen's funeral carriage.

Queen Victoria's coffin was then placed in St. George's Chapel at Windsor Castle, where it remained in the Albert Memorial Chapel for two days under guard.

Burial of Queen Victoria

On the evening of February 4, 1901, Queen Victoria's coffin was taken by gun carriage to Frogmore Mausoleum, which she had built for her beloved Albert upon his death.

Above the mausoleum's doors, Queen Victoria had inscribed, "Vale desideratissime. Farewell most beloved. Here at length I shall rest with thee, with thee in Christ I shall rise again."

At last, she was once again with her beloved Albert.

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