First photo of Queen Elizabeth’s tomb at St George’s Chapel in Windsor

Buckingham Palace has shared the first photo of the new tombstone that covers the vault in which Queen Elizabeth II was buried on September 19, at St George’s Chapel in Windsor. The plain black stone, already engraved with her parents’ names, now includes Elizabeth and Philippe.

Also read: Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral at Westminster Abbey

Queen Elizabeth II tombstone revealed

The highly symbolic images of Queen Elizabeth II’s coffin sinking into the floor of St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle remain a highlight of this day at Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral. In April 2021, the same moment took place at the end of Prince Philip’s funeral in this same chapel. However, the burial of the coffin in the basement of the choir is more symbolic than useful.

At the end of the funeral mass, the coffin is lowered into the Royal Vault, a crypt below the choir (actually below the Albert Chapel Memorial), using a trapdoor and elevator. Prince Philip’s coffin had been resting in this crypt for a year. Elizabeth II remained there for a few minutes, the time of the ceremony, before her royal burial at the George VI Memorial (Image: Histoires Royales)

At night, in a small committee, without cameras, a final blessing took place, in the presence of some relatives, when the coffin of Queen Elizabeth II entered her vault. This is not under the choir of the chapel but in a hole at the entrance of the chapel. The Duke of Edinburgh, who died a year earlier, was buried next to her at the same time.

The Royal Vault is a burial chamber where many members of the royal family rest. This crypt also serves as a temporary place to store coffins (Photo: De Luan / Alamy / Abaca)

Also read: The Prince and Princess of Wales thank the Windsor staff for the first public engagement after Elizabeth II’s funeral.

For a year, the prince consort’s coffin had been waiting in the Royal Vault, this crypt which is well below the choir of the chapel. He had to wait for his wife to join his grave. Isabel II therefore made a brief step in the crypt, at the time of the public ceremony, then she returned to the chapel, with the coffin of her husband who was moved for the last time. Together they were buried with the parents of Elizabeth II.

King George VI has reserved a family vault in a corner of St. George’s Chapel, which is known as the George VI Monument. George VI first rested in the crypt below the church, before being joined in his vault in 1969. His wife, the Queen Mother Elizabeth, joined him in 2002. The same year, his second daughter, Princess Margaret, she was cremated and her ashes are placed in a small display in the same vault. A place is provided for King Carlos III and Queen Camilla.

The tomb of King George VI and the Queen Mother Elizabeth. The urn with the ashes of Princess Margaret is also placed in the vault. The Memorial is a niche in the church, which is a very small chapel with its own altar. The Memorial is visible to visitors but is protected by a fence (Photo: Tim Ockenden/PA Images / Alamy Stock Photo)

This chapel is a small niche located on the north side, along the choir, to the left facing the altar. It is accessed by a very small staircase with two or three steps. The alcove overlooks the choir but is located a little lower and protected by a barrier.

Also read: King Carlos III opens his first red box: first photo of the sovereign fulfilling his constitutional functions

Queen Elizabeth II has joined her parents’ vault

This September 24, Buckingham Palace released the first photo of the new tombstone that covers the vault. The vault is a very small basement that can accommodate three coffins lined up side by side and each topped by another coffin, plus an urn. The tombstone now includes the names, dates of birth, and dates of death of Elizabeth and Philip. The insignia of the Order of the Garter was also engraved in the center of the stone, between the names of George VI and Elizabeth and those of Elizabeth and Philip. Princess Margaret is entitled to her own tombstone, which is set against a wall.

The names of the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh were added at the time of Elizabeth II’s burial on 19 September. On the stone, we now read: “George VI 1895-1952, Elizabeth 1900-2002, Elizabeth II 1926-2022, Philip 1921-2021” The two generations are separated by the insignia of the Order of the Garter. Princess Margaret’s tombstone is placed against the wall (Photo: Royal Collection Trust/The Dean and Canons of Windsor, PA via AP/ISOPIX)

Also read: Burial ceremony for Queen Elizabeth II at St George’s Chapel in Windsor

St George’s Chapel is open to the public when visiting Windsor Castle. Therefore, the Memorial is visible behind the barriers. Visits will resume on Monday. The Royal Vault still includes remains that remain permanently in this crypt. Other small chapels and royal monuments can be found in different places in the building. These burials are found in the nave, near the altar, or even in small chapels within the building. In addition to the King George VI Memorial, there is, for example, the Gloucester Vault, in which the wife and children of Prince William Henry, Duke of Gloucester are buried. The Albert Memorial is a sumptuous chapel, adjoining Saint-Georges Chapel, which houses Prince Albert, grandson of Queen Victoria and eldest son of the Prince of Wales, who died aged 28. His uncle, the Duke of Albany, is also buried there. Formerly called the Wolsey Chapel, it is hidden behind the altar extension.

King George V and Queen Mary, grandparents of Queen Elizabeth II, have their place together, near the west door of the chapel. In the choir of the chapel are the tombs of Jane Seymour, Henry VIII and Charles I. Near the altar are Queen Alexandra and King Edward VII. Their tombs are visible to the right of the altar.

Wedged between two columns are the tombs of Queen Mary and King George V, next to the main gatehouse (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

Earlier kings such as Edward IV and George Plantagenet, Duke of Bedford also rest near the altar. In another part of the chapel, the tombs of Henry Somerset, Duke of Beaufort, Duke, 1st Duke of Suffolk or 1st Baron Hastings can also be found. More surprisingly, it is the remains of Prince Alemayehu Tewodros, son of Emperor Tewodros of Ethiopia, that are sometimes the subject of diplomatic tensions, as the UK refuses to return the remains to Ethiopia despite repeated requests since 2007.

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Nicholas Fontain

Editor

Nicolas Fontaine has been a freelance web editor since 2014. After being a copywriter and author for numerous Belgian and French brands and media, he specialized in royalty news. Nicholas is now editor-in-chief of Histoires royales. nicolas@historiesroyales.fr


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