As an ingredient in coffins, “lead helps to keep moisture out and preserve the body longer and helps prevent odors and toxins emanating from dead bodies,” says an author of the Annals at the University of Maryland. said research professor Julie Anne Taddev. “His coffin remained on display for several days and made a long journey to his final resting place.”
Taddev notes that the extra weight created the need for eight pallbearers instead of the usual six.
Soldiers carry the coffins of dead British monarchs after an incident in 1901, when the horses that pulled Queen Victoria’s catafalque were shaken and her coffin nearly fell on the road. Winston Churchill, who received the last state funeral in Britain before Elizabeth on Monday, also had a lead-lined coffin. Lincoln Perkins told the BBC that it was so heavy that when it had to stop on a few steps, it slipped off the shoulders of some pallbearers. When it fell on two “pushers” to keep the coffin from collapsing, Perkins said, he said aloud to the corpse, “Don’t worry, sir, we’ll take care of you.”
“You could really feel him slipping off the shoulders,” Perkins said. “If we had left him… I don’t know what it would have been, very embarrassing, but we didn’t.”
Elizabeth’s coffin was buried Monday evening in a vault at the King George VI Memorial Chapel, part of St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle. She is survived by her parents, sister and her husband, Prince Philip, who died last year.
Preservation measures are reminiscent of those used by the ancient high-ranking Egyptians, who were also kept in chambers rather than buried in the ground and whose bodies were preserved immaculately. and while the ancient wealthy Egyptians were often buried Along with a cache of jewelry, statues and other items, Taddeo said, the queen was buried with just her wedding band, made of Welsh gold, and a pair of pearl earrings.
Such austerity would mean that Elizabeth, known for embracing frugality and ingenuity, was buried with less baggage than some of her predecessors; Taddeo said that Queen Victoria was buried with her husband’s dressing gown and a cast of his arm, and a lock of hair and a photograph of her favorite servant, with whom she was rumored to have had a romantic relationship. Elizabeth’s orb, scepter and crown—composed of about 3,000 diamonds and dozens of other gems—were taken from the top of her coffin and placed on an altar at her burial.
Using lead in coffins is “a long-standing royal tradition”, said Professor Mike Parker Pearson from the Institute of Archeology at University College London. He said the decapitated corpse of King Edward I, who died in 1307, was found in Westminster Abbey “to be well preserved in his marble coffin in 1774”. Pearson said that the practice of using lead was probably adopted at the time of Edward’s death or in the century after.
He said that earlier kings were not mutilated. Pearson noted that the corpse of William the Conqueror, who died in 1087, was apparently so badly decomposed that when priests tried to stuff his body “in a stone coffin, for the bulk of his proved too small,” then his bloated belly burst. “The mourners are believed to have run towards the door to escape the foul smell.”
William’s “swollen bowel burst, and an unbearable stench attacked the nostrils of the standing people and the whole crowd,” According to Orderic Vitalis, a Benedictine monk Who chronicled Anglo-Norman England.