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How much does a state funeral cost?

·Finance Reporter, Yahoo Finance UK
·5-min read
State funeral: Pallbearers carry the coffin of Britain's Queen Elizabeth as the hearse arrives at the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh, Scotland, Britain, September 11, 2022. REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis/Pool     TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
State funeral: Pallbearers carry the coffin of Britain's Queen Elizabeth as the hearse arrives at the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh. Photo: Alkis Konstantinidis/Reuters

The Queen’s funeral on Monday 19 September, will be the UK’s first traditional state funeral since Winston Churchill's in 1965.

But what exactly is a state funeral and who else has had one? Here’s everything you need to know.

What is a state funeral?

A state funeral is usually reserved for monarchs and is a way of honouring the life of the sovereign.

It typically begins with the body of the deceased being carried on a gun carriage, which is drawn by sailors from the Royal Navy rather than horses.

This forms part of a military procession which takes them from a private resting chapel to Westminster Hall in the House of Parliament.

Read more: Queen Elizabeth II's funeral: florists and souvenir shops make brisk business

This is typically followed by another procession to Westminster Abbey or St Paul’s Cathedral, depending on where the service is. The Queen’s funeral will take place at Westminster Abbey.

Heads of state are then given a 21-gun salute. It is the responsibility of the Earl Marshal to deliver a state funeral with the support of the College of Arms.

How much does it cost?

State funerals are publicly funded.

These large-scale events observe strict rules of protocol, held to honour people of national significance. In the UK, the last state funeral in 1965 cost an estimated £2.5m ($2.9m).

State funeral The hearse carrying the coffin of Britain's Queen Elizabeth departs Balmoral Castle, in Balmoral, Scotland, Britain September 11, 2022. REUTERS/Russell Cheyne     TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
State funeral: The hearse carrying the coffin of Britain's Queen Elizabeth departs Balmoral Castle. Photo: Russell Cheyne/Reuters

The Queen Mother’s royal ceremonial funeral in 2002 cost more than £5.4m, with policing costs amounting to £4.3m and the lying-in-state coming to £825,000.

Outside the UK, the late president George HW Bush’s funeral service and related ceremonies in 2018 were estimated to have cost American taxpayers at least $500m (£427m) in lost productivity and wages for federal workers and other expenses.

Who is entitled to a state funeral?

The head of state is always entitled to a state funeral.

However, other people can be granted a state funeral with the monarch’s approval and a vote in parliament, which needs to deem them an “exceptionally distinguished” person and then votes on money to fund it.

Who has had a state funeral in the UK?

Sir Winston Churchill had a state funeral on 30 January 1965. It was the first state funeral of a politician in the twentieth century and the biggest national event since the coronation of the Queen in 1953.

state funeral Resting on a gun carriage drawn by Naval gun crews, the flag draped coffin of Sir Winston Churchill passes the Houses of Parliament at the start of the solemn state funeral procession to St. Paul's Cathedral, London, Jan. 30, 1965. On top of the coffin is Sir Winston Churchill's collar of the Order of the Garter. (AP Photo)
Resting on a gun carriage drawn by Naval gun crews, the flag draped coffin of Sir Winston Churchill passes the Houses of Parliament at the start of the state funeral procession to St Paul's Cathedral, 30 January 1965. Photo: AP

Former prime ministers William Gladstone and Lord Palmerston, were given state funerals when they died in 1898 and 1865, respectively.

The Duke of Wellington was given a state funeral in 1852 and Lord Nelson also had one in 1806 following his death in the battle of Trafalgar.

Monarchs who have had state funerals include Queen Victoria (1901), King Edward VII (1910), King George V (1936) and King George VI (1952).

The only monarch not to be given a state funeral in the last 295 years was Edward VIII, who abdicated.

How does a state funeral differ from a royal ceremonial funeral?

There aren’t too many differences between the two types of funerals. For example, both include a gun carriage to bear the coffin and a service attended by domestic and foreign state representatives.

Additionally, both can include a lying-in-state, which is a tradition where the body of the deceased is placed in a state building to enable the public the chance to pay their respects.

Ceremonial royal funerals are held for members of the royal family who hold high military rank, for the consort of the sovereign and the heir to the throne.

The Duke of Edinburgh was given a ceremonial royal funeral in 2021, as was the Queen Mother in 2002 and Diana, Princess of Wales, in 1997.

PA News photo dated September 1997. Pictured: The Earl Spencer, Prince William, Prince Harry and The Prince of Wales wait as the hearse carrying the coffin of Diana, Princess of Wales prepares to leave Westminster Abbey following her funeral service. PA Feature SHOWBIZ Film Reviews. Picture credit should read: PA Archive/PA Images/Fiona Hanson. All Rights Reserved. WARNING: This picture must only be used to accompany PA Feature SHOWBIZ Film Reviews. (Photo by PA Images via Getty Images)
The Earl Spencer, Prince William, Prince Harry and The Prince of Wales wait as the hearse carrying the coffin of Diana, Princess of Wales prepares to leave Westminster Abbey following her funeral service. Photo: Getty

Margaret Thatcher’s funeral in April 2013 was a ceremonial funeral with full military honours.

But a state funeral may require a motion in parliament for a non-sovereign, and the gun carriage bearing the coffin is pulled by Royal Navy ratings — sailors — using ropes, rather than horses.

One of the main differences is who organises the funeral. Ceremonial royal funerals are the responsibility of Lord Chamberlain — the most senior official of the Royal Household, while for state funerals it is the responsibility of Earl Marshal.

Do the royals have private funerals?

Yes. These types of funerals are usually undertaken for all other members of the royal family, their children and spouses.

Where are members of the royal family buried?

Traditionally, members of the royal family are buried in St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle. The royal vault lies beneath St George’s Chapel in the Windsor grounds and has housed royals in their final place of rest since the 15th century.

The vault in St George's Chapel, Windsor, where Queen Elizabeth, the
Queen Mother was interred is seen the morning after her funeral in
London's Westminster Abbey, April 10, 2002. She was laid to rest
alongside her husband, King George VI, who died in 1952. The casket
that contains the ashes of her daughter Princess Margaret, who died in
February, will also be placed in the vault. REUTERS/Tim Ockenden/POOL

ASA
The vault in St George's Chapel, Windsor, where Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother was laid to rest. Photo: Tim Ockenden/Reuters

Though she will be buried at Windsor, the Queen will not be laid to rest in the royal vault which is currently home to 25 members of the royal family. She will lie within the King George VI Memorial Chapel.

The late Duke of Edinburgh will soon be relocated from the royal vault to the King George VI chapel to lie with the late Queen, as well as her mother and father, King George VI and Elizabeth the Queen Mother and Princess Margaret.

Watch: King Charles leads royal family procession behind Queen's coffin through Edinburgh