The Funeral of Queen Mary I

(public domain)

Mary’s body had lain in state at St. James’s Palace until 13 December 1558. Her successor Elizabeth was determined to give her a funeral worthy of a Queen and the final bill came to a staggering £2 million in today’s currency. Mary’s coffin was draped in cloth of gold to begin its journey to Westminster Abbey. Mary herself had wished to be buried next to her mother and asked in her will for her mother’s body to moved to lay next to hers. This was never done, and Catherine of Aragon remains at Peterborough Cathedral. A life-size effigy of Mary lay on top of the coffin, which was crowned and carrying a sceptre and orb. The chief mourner was Margaret Douglas, Countess of Lennox, Mary’s first cousin.

At Westminster Abbey the coffin spent the night, guarded by a hundred poor men in black gowns with goods carrying torches. The next day began with a requiem mass. Her regalia were offered to God, and her body was buried in a vault in the north aisle of the chapel of Henry VII. Mary’s ministers and household staff broke their wands of office and threw them into the grave. The heralds proclaimed, ‘The Queen is dead; long live the Queen!’.

Bishop John White of Winchester spoke, ‘She was a King’s daughter, she was a King’s sister, she was a King’s wife; she was a Queen, and by the same title a King also…’ 1

In 1603 Elizabeth died, and her coffin was placed above Mary’s in the same vault. Her successor, James I, created a monument over the graves depicting only Elizabeth. Even in death, Mary is destined to be overshadowed by her sister. The inscription reads,’Partners both in throne and grave, here rest we, two sisters, Elizabeth and Mary, in the hope of resurrection’. Personally, I think Mary’s wishes should’ve been carried out as she would have much preferred to share a grave with her mother, from whom she was so brutally separated in life. Not much is to be done about that now anyway.


  1.  Porter, Linda (2007) Mary Tudor: The First Queen. London: Little, Brown. ISBN 978-0-7499-0982-6

About Moniek Bloks 2592 Articles
My name is Moniek and I am from the Netherlands. I began this website in 2013 because I wanted to share these women's amazing stories.


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