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What happened to the Queen's mortal body?

Following the news of the queen's death, we will now explore what will happen to her body. As she died peacefully in Balmoral Castle, operation unicorn was put into place. Her body was moved to London in days that followed where she laid in state in a closed coffin so the general public could pay their respects.

Traditionally, deceased royals are embalmed and placed in a lead-lined coffin. What exactly does this mean?

The queen was laid to rest in an oak coffin, this was decided upon over thirty years ago. This coffin is lead lined as it seals the coffin from moisture and helps to slow decomposition. This has been a tradition for at least four centuries in the royal family. This causes the coffin to be extremely heavy, Princess Diana’s coffin weighed 540 pounds, 245 Kg.

The queen was laid to rest in Windsor Castle, alongside the already deceased members of her family. Prince Philip's body was removed from the royal vault and reunited for eternal rest with his wife.

Queen Elizabeth’s body has been reported to have already been embalmed at Balmoral. Embalming delays decomposition and gives the deceased a more restful appearance. This is very suitable in this case, as the queen was lying in state to be mourned by thousands of people in the days before her funeral. After death, the migration of bacteria in the system will become visible and produce an odour. If not embalmed, the body will quickly start to decay. Embalming begins by draining blood from the body and then introducing a disinfectant and preservative to the internal environment of the body, this is pumped throughout the bloodstream. Formalin is a commonly used preservative, maintaining the body as it looked in life. Embalming became popular after the American Civil war, when there was an outcry for soldiers to be returned to their families for burial.

Tudor queen and namesake of her majesty, Elizabeth I died in 1603. Elizabeth I proclaimed that she did not wish to be disembowelled after death, which would have been customary. Her wishes were denied and following disembowelment, she was embalmed. Her embalmed body lay in Whitehall Palace for a month before burial. A lady in waiting reported hearing a loud “crack” as the Queen’s “body and head” exploded due to a build of gases. The force of the explosion caused the wood and lead to splinter. It is believed if she had not been disembowelled, the smell and explosion would have been far greater. The explosion of the body is due to the build-up of gases, this pressure is so great that it breaks through the skin barrier allowing the gases to escape as well as its accompanying smell.

This unfortunate event will not happen with the mortal corpse of Queen Elizabeth II as the embalming process has been revolutionised in the hundreds of years since the passing of her namesake. It is customary for royals to be buried with beloved items and symbols of their reign. Will the queen be buried with her iconic black handbag or perhaps one of her colourful hats? The general public will not be able to find out these answers unless it is released by the royal family. Although her body is preserved, there will be no open casket viewing for the public. Instead, they will be able to pay respects to her majesty with her beautiful oak coffin adorned with the royal standard as well as the orb and sceptre to symbolise her 70-year-long reign.

Learn more about the human body at The Post Mortem Live!


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