Queen Elizabeth II: Why is the coffin lined with lead


Queen Elizabeth II’s coffin arrived in London on Tuesday from Edinburgh, ahead of a state funeral. The late monarch passed away at Balmoral Castle in Scotland last week. She is 96 years old.

Like the Duke of Edinburgh, who died in 2021, the Queen will be buried in a British oak coffin with a bronze handle designed more than 30 years ago and lined with lead.

The custom of burying royalty in lead-lined coffins dates back hundreds of years.

Since members of the Royal Family are buried inside a room, rather than directly on the ground, their coffins are lined with lead to slow down the decomposition process. The lead seals the coffin and prevents moisture from entering, preserving the body for up to a year.

This custom dates back to Victorian times, when a hermetically sealed casket was required to prevent the strong effects of rotting when buried above ground.

Members of the British Royal Family and British nobility have used lead-lined coffins for at least four centuries.

According to Westminster Abbey records, Queen Elizabeth I and King Charles II were buried in lead-lined coffins, as were Princess Diana, Sir Winston Churchill and Sir Francis Drake.

The combination of lead and oak creates a heavy coffin, in fact so heavy that it is reported that it would take eight army guards to lift Queen Elizabeth II’s coffin.

The Queen will lie in state starting Wednesday at Westminster Hall until the funeral. Her coffin will be clad in accordance with the Royal Standard and topped by the Crown of the Royal State, the Orb of the Sovereign, and the Pillar of the Sovereign with the Cross.

Following the funeral, the Queen will be interred in the George VI Memorial Chapel at Windsor Castle, alongside King George VI, Queen Elizabeth and the ashes of her sister Princess Margaret.

Prince Philip’s coffin will then be exhumed in the coming weeks and transported from the Royal Vault to the George VI Memorial Chapel to lie next to her.

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