Queen Victoria disliked William Gladstone, the prime minister, who served her four separate terms.
“He addresses me as if I were in a meeting,” he complains.
The shooting was mutual. “A queen alone is enough to kill any man,” Gladstone wrote to a friend.
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When he died in 1898 of cancer, which had begun to spread badly, a commemoration organized by Westminster politicians inspired the fall of the royal tradition – a state lying in state at Westminster Hall.
“The body was taken by special train to the adjacent underground station before being brought to Westminster Hall of State,” wrote Roy Jenkins in his biography of the politician “a large file of the past, both illustrious and obscure.”
The hall dates back to 1097 and was the venue for lavish feasts and banquets, as well as the trials of Lord Thomas More, Guy Fawkes and Charles I.
Among the 10 pallbearers at Gladstone’s funeral in Westminster Abbey were the Prince of Wales (later Edward VII) and his son the Duke of York (later George V).
Queen Victoria, bearing the unfortunate news of her family, telegrammed her son to inquire what example he should follow and whose advice he had taken.
The prince answered that he knew of no example, and had taken no counsel.
centuries of ancient tradition
The tradition of lying in state stretches back to the 17th century, when the Stuart monarchs did it for several days.
Queen Victoria lay in state in Windsor after her death in 1901, but requested that it not be public.
When Edward VII died nine years later, Westminster Abbey was once again opened to greet mourners.
A modern standard
Edward VII established the modern standard and almost all the princes, with the exception of Edward VIII, who had abdicated, lay in the same colossal space.
Edward VII practiced egalitarianism in the republic, according to the historian Jane Ridley: “Messenger boys were forbidden to hold places for others, and no tickets came, so that the rich were forced to wait for the needy and the poor; the queue itself became a symbol for social equality.”
Historian David Torrance recounts that after public access was closed and the late Queen Alexandra had spent some time with her husband’s coffin, “Winston Churchill tried to enter with his people” but was rebuffed.
In 1965, 55 years later, the great prime minister was given an honor that had never been bestowed by him on any other politician.
In 1936 it was lying in state for George V and the “Prince’s watch” – when members of the Royal Family are kept in the Monarch’s pocket, as King Charles and his siblings did on Monday – was revived.
In 1952, it lay in the chest of the Queen’s father, George VI, at Westminster Abbey. Fifty years later, in 2002, the same ceremony was used for his wife, the Queen Mother.
In the 70th year, his daughter rests in the same place.