Why Did Queen Elizabeth Not Have an Open Casket?

People worldwide were sad when Queen Elizabeth II died on September 8 at 96. The longest-ruling monarch in British history died in peace at her summer home in the Scottish Highlands, Balmoral Castle.

There was 12-day national mourning leading up to the historic state funeral of Her Late Majesty at Westminster Abbey in London where she was also crowned queen and married.

The queen was finally laid to rest on September 19 during a private service at the King George VI Memorial Chapel. This was confirmed by Buckingham Palace. She was buried next to her husband of 73 years, Prince Philip, along with her father, King George VI, mother, Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother and sister, Princess Margaret, according to People.

During the week of mourning tens of thousands of people including David Beckham Susanna Reid, Holly Willoughby, Phillip Schofield and Sharon Osbourne, went to London to pay their last respects to Queen Elizabeth II.

People cried as the sad procession carrying the queen’s coffin through Scotland and London carried the Royal Standard flag and the Imperial State Crown. Many people hoped to see the revered monarch one last time.

She has become a symbol and cultural icon during her long reign. But, like many other royals before her, Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral service did not include an open casket. And here’s why.

Specially Designed Coffin Was Used to Bury Queen Elizabeth II

As is usual for the British monarchy, Queen Elizabeth II’s state funeral and burial service on September 19 did not have an open casket. According to Mental Floss, this is because members of the royal family are usually buried in lead-lined coffins meant to stay closed so that no moisture can get in.

This keeps the body from breaking down as quickly. According to Westminster Abbey records, Prince Philip and Princess Diana were buried in coffins with a similar design. So were many other royals before them like Elizabeth I and Charles II.

Specially Designed Coffin Was Used to Bury Queen Elizabeth II
Specially Designed Coffin Was Used to Bury Queen Elizabeth II

The New York Times says that Queen Elizabeth II, the government, local authorities and the news media had been planning what would happen after her death for a long time. It was called “Operation London Bridge,” and it included everything from plans for her successor to the choice of her coffin, which was more than 30 years old and made of rare English oak.

The Telegraph says that the specialized company Henry Smith first made the queen’s casket. After that, J.H. Kenyon took over and Leverton and Sons took over in 1991. Speaking to The Times, the firm’s Andrew Leverton said, “It is made from English oak, which is very difficult to get hold of… It is not something you can just make in a day.” According to Express, Her Late Majesty’s coffin weighed between 500 and 700 pounds and had to be carried by eight people instead of the usual six.

What Did the Flowers Mean on Her Coffin?

During Her Late Majesty’s funeral service, her coffin was decorated with other crown jewels, the Royal Standard flag and the Imperial State Crown. The Sovereign’s Orb and the Sovereign’s Sceptre with Cross, which were given to the queen at her coronation in 1953 after her father, King George VI, died, were also put on top of her casket, according to sources. Since King Charles III has taken over the throne, the jewels will naturally go to her oldest son.

On top of her coffin were special flower arrangements and a handwritten note from King Charles III. According to the Mirror, the floral wreath was a sweet tribute to her late husband, Prince Philip because it had the same flower stem from when they got married in 1947.

The wreath also had flowers and leaves from the gardens of Buckingham Palace, Clarence House and Highgrove House. According to CNN, the wreath had rosemary for remembering, English oak for love’s strength and myrtle for a happy marriage. For the flowers, fragrant ones like roses and dahlias were used and their colors were chosen to match the Royal Standard.

The note was written by King Charles III and said, “In loving and devoted memory, Charles R.” It was tucked into the special flower arrangement. The “R” in his new signature stands for the Latin word “king,” which is “Rex.”

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