the news that Lady Thatcher, one of the most divisive prime ministers of modern
times, is to receive a ceremonial funeral with military-style honours, I
thought it would be interesting to look at the arrangements for the funeral of
the Duke of Wellington, who twice served as prime minister.
Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington, saved England (and Europe) from
Napoleon’s overweening ambition, and survived Waterloo and the Peninsular
Wars.Wellington was England’s darling
when he returned from his amazing victory of June 1815, but his political
career was dogged by controversy, notably owing to his uncompromising stance on
parliamentary reform.The Great Reform
Bill of 1832 was passed despite his opposition, which earned him some boos at
the opening of the Liverpool and Manchester Railway two years earlier. At
Wellington’s funeral on 18 November 1852, however, there was a massive turnout
to see the final journey of one of England’s greatest military commanders.Thousands of people paid their respects in
silence as they watched the procession, which included a soldier from every one
of the queen’s regiments. The hearse was
escorted by cavalry, six battalions of infantry, military bands including the
Scots Fusilier and Coldstream Guards, nine guns (field artillery), eight guns
of horse artillery. Prince Albert was in attendance, too. The huge funeral
carriage was the same one used for Lord Nelson’s procession.Very fittingly, Wellington was laid to rest
by Nelson in St Paul’s Cathedral. The expense
of the funeral caused a debate in parliament. You can see some illustrations
from the Illustrated London News of Wellington’s funeral here on the Victorian Web.There’s a full description of the ‘order
of proceeding’ of the funeral procession here on Google books. John Drew's ‘'Biographical Sketch of the
Military and Political Career of the Late Duke of Wellington, Including the
Most Interesting Particulars of His Death, Lying in State, and Public Funeral’
(1852) describes the day of the funeral, too.
and Napoleon:.History of England Vol.
VII, (London, c. 1868.) The Edge Hill Tunnel entrance on the
Liverpool and Manchester Railway, Penny Magazine, 31 March 1833. Both
images from the author's collection.