'No expense spared': Undertaker explains preserving process behind Queen's lying in state

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Millions of people are set to file past the coffin of Queen Elizabeth II, which will lie in state until being removed for the state funeral at Westminster Abbey. The coffin will stay at Westminster Hall for four days in total, leading some to question the behind-the-scenes preparations that go into such a long public display. One undertaker has taken to social media to explain the procedures of preserving the Queen for lying in state. 

TikTok mortician ‘AskTheUndertakr’ uses his platform to answer questions about what happens to us after we die. As the Queen’s death dominates the news cycle, he has explained what likely happens after a member of the Royal Family dies.

It was previously confirmed that Her Majesty’s coffin would be lead-lined in keeping with a centuries-old royal tradition, as it helps preserve the body for up to a year. According to experts, it ensures everything stays intact. 

However, this is likely not the only method used. The Tik Tok undertaker explained: “Because of the wealth and the stature and influence that the Royal Family has, they would secure the best embalmers, the best facilities, the best of everything.

“No expense would be spared when it comes to the care and preparation of the Queen’s body.”

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The undertaker explained that embalming would “be able to lie in state for the ten-day [mourning] period and without any ill-effects.”

He said: “They would have done everything possible to ensure that the Queen’s body is well-preserved and restored to an almost near-perfect condition.

“Everything possible in the embalmer’s tool kit, so to speak…” 

He added: “I also believe that they probably have some cooling devices or something underneath. Perhaps in the bottom of the casket or underneath the stand where she will be laid in state to help with cooling et cetera.

“Again, no expense would be spared. The embalming process would be done by probably the best embalmer in England, in Europe, and it would be done in every possible way so that there is perfection or as close to perfection as one can achieve.

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“The embalming process would be very slow. It would probably have gone on for hours.”

There has been no confirmation of whether Queen Elizabeth II opted to be embalmed or not. Given that royals are traditionally buried in lead-lined coffins, the procedure may not be necessary. The lead-lining helps preserve the body for longer after its burial in a crypt. 

Lead is said to make the casket airtight, helping to stop moisture from getting in and therefore slowing down the decomposition of the body. The lead makes the coffin significantly heavier, with the Queen’s coffin requiring several people to move it. 

Royals have been buried in crypts and vaults for centuries. The Queen will be buried in the King George VI Memorial Chapel at St George’s Chapel in Windsor, where her parent and sister are already interred.

Prince Philip, the Queen’s late husband, was placed in the Royal Vault in Windsor at his committal service in April 2021. His coffin is expected to be moved to be with his wife in the memorial chapel following her funeral.

The Duke of Edinburgh’s coffin currently lies on a marble slab in the vault, surrounded by the coffins of Henry VIII and nine other English and British kings, dating back to the internment of Edward IV in 1483.

Her Majesty’s committal service will take place after the state funeral at St. George’s. It is a more intimate ceremony which provides guests with the chance to give their final goodbyes before the burial.

Around 800 guests are expected to attend the committal service; the congregation is expected to be made up of King Charles III, members of the Royal Family and members of the Queen’s household, past and present, including those from private estates.

As the coffin is lowered into the royal vault, the dean of Windsor recites a psalm and commendation. The garter king of arms will then pronounce Her Majesty’s styles and titles.

The King’s version of the national anthem will conclude the service.

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