Frogmore

In Brief

Bloom thinks of Queen Victoria's ostentatious mourning for her prematurely deceased husband, Albert, and for that matter the ostentatious mourning that she prescribed for her own passing, as a tad overdone: "Drawn on a guncarriage. Victoria and Albert. Frogmore memorial mourning." On 2 February 1901 the Queen's coffin, bearing her body dressed in a white dress and her wedding veil, was indeed drawn on a gun carriage, in an immense procession of soldiers, sailors, and leaders bedecked in military regalia, serenaded by the booming of naval guns. Two days later, the coffin was placed in a huge sarcophagus in the richly appointed Frogmore mausoleum that she had ordered to house herself and her beloved husband in death.

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Rather than be buried in Westminster Abbey, Victoria and Albert desired a mausoleum of their own, and had long planned to build one. When Albert unexpectedly died in 1861, work had already begun on a mausoleum for the queen's mother on the grounds of the Frogmore Estate than adjoins Windsor Castle, in Berkshire. (The park is so called because many frogs live in the surrounding marshes.) Albert's death accelerated plans for a royal resting place. The building was finished in a year, and the interior decorations, which are opulent and ornate, were completed over the next decade. At the center of all the show, Victoria's coffin lies beside Albert's in a 30-ton sarcophagus carved from a single block of flawless, polished Aberdeen granite. Marble effigies of the Queen and her Prince Consort adorn the top of the sarcophagus.

Bloom's comment on Victoria's decision, late in her life, to moderate slightly her extravagant personal mourning for Albert—"But in the end she put a few violets in her bonnet. Vain in her heart of hearts"—seems to imply also a criticism of her very public funerary arrangments. Dead bodies do not require such attention.

JH 2015
The Royal Mausoleum of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, in photograph by WyrdLight.com, licensed under CC Attribution-Share Alike 3.0. Source: Wikimedia Commons.