Royal traditions and protocol govern virtually every aspect of royal life - even funeral traditions. Royals are subject to rules that range from barring them from attending certain funerals to shaping how royal funerals can be planned.
But even though strict rules dictate what members of the royal family can and can't do, many have broken royal protocol for funerals. In these instances, personal feelings, national honor, and family duty have trumped tradition. For example, while protocol dictates that Queen Elizabeth II should only attend family or royal funerals, she's broken that rule privately and publicly to pay her respects to employees and politicians alike. Other royals, such as Queen Victoria and the Queen Mother, have thrown tradition out the window to ensure that their service or burial plans happen just as they intended, regardless of what the rules say.
The times that royals have ignored or rejected protocol for funerals show that some rules just need to be broken.
Elizabeth II Attended Her Friend's Funeral
In 2019, Queen Elizabeth II attended the service of Annette Wilkin, a friend to the queen and employee in the royal household.
Why was this such a big deal? Because the queen rarely attends funerals outside her family. Some royal watchers have speculated that the queen doesn't attend funerals because she doesn't want to take the spotlight away from the person being honored and mourned.
The queen may have decided to break protocol for Wilkin's service because she wanted to honor Wilkin's longtime service to the royal family.Glad they broke tradition?
Queen Victoria Was Not Buried At Westminster Abbey Or St. George's Chapel
Most British kings and queens are buried in Westminster Abbey or St. George's Chapel at Windsor Castle. But when Queen Victoria passed in 1901, she broke tradition by being the first monarch since George I who wasn't buried at either location.
Instead, Victoria was laid to rest in a mausoleum at Frogmore House, which is located on the Windsor Castle estate. She opted to be buried there, rather than Westminster Abbey or St. George's Chapel, because it's where her beloved husband Prince Albert had been buried a few decades earlier.Glad they broke tradition?
Edward VII's Beloved Dog Was Part Of His Procession And Walked Ahead Of Royalty
The service of King Edward VII drew royals and heads of state from across the world. But one of the chief mourners was Caesar, the king's beloved little fox terrier. Caesar, along with the king's favorite horse, actually marched in Edward's procession behind the royal casket and ahead of the foreign dignitaries who had come to pay their respects.
The king's dog walking in front of royals allegedly irked Germany's Wilhelm II, Edward's nephew.Glad they broke tradition?
Princess Margaret Requested Cremation So That She Could Be Interred Next To Her Father In St. George's Chapel
Princess Margaret, Queen Elizabeth II's younger sister, lived life on her own terms - and she marked her passing in 2002 on her own terms, as well. Margaret wanted to be cremated rather than interred in a royal burial ground. Her ashes were then installed next to her father King George VI in St. George's Chapel at Windsor Castle.
Why cremation? According to Margaret's friend and lady-in-waiting Lady Glenconner, cremation enabled Princess Margaret to be interred near her father, since space inside St. George's Chapel was limited:
She told me that she found Frogmore [burial ground] very gloomy. I think she'd like to be with her late King, which she will now be. There's room I think for her to be with him now [that she has been cremated, rather than entombed]. She just said she was going to be cremated. I think she wanted her family and her friends at her funeral. Obviously, later on there will be a national memorial service when her charities will be represented, but for her actual funeral she wanted it to be as private as possible.
While rare, Princess Margaret isn't the only British royal to opt for cremation. Princess Louise, Duchess of Argyll - Queen Victoria's sixth child - requested that she be cremated when she passed in 1939.Glad they broke tradition?