Kings and Queens Special: Symbols of a Royal Funeral

The Sovereign’s Orb and Sceptre

The Orb and Sceptre
Queen Elizabeth holding the Orb and Sceptre
Sovereign’sThe ‘sovereign’ is the ruler such as the ‘Monarch’. So, the sovereign’s Orb is the Monarch’s Orb, or King/Queens Orb.
MonarchThis is the head of state such as the King, Queen, or Emperor.
CoronationThis is the ceremony, or process to make someone King or Queen.
The crown’s powerThe ‘crown’ refers to the King or Queen. So, the ‘crowns power’ is the King or Queens power.
Associated withThis means to be ‘connected with’ or ‘linked with’ someone or something.

The sceptre is a symbol of a monarch’s power, while the orb and cross represent the power of God and it’s a reminder to the monarch that their power comes from God. It was first used by King Henry VIII [8th] in 1509 for his own coronation.

It is believed that the sceptre has been used at every coronation since 1661. The sceptre was created for the coronation of King Charles II [2nd], and has been used to represent the crown’s power in every coronation since 1661.

The sceptre, or rod, is one of the oldest symbols associated with royalty throughout history.

Measuring 92 cm, the sceptre holds the world’s largest diamond, the Cullinan I, also known as the First Star of Africa. Found in South Africa in 1905, it was gifted to Edward VII [7th] in 1907.

The First Star of Africa. Found in South Africa in 1905

The ‘breaking of the wand’ at Queen Elizabeth’s funeral

The Lord Chamberlain with the wand
The breaking signifies the end of his service
Elizabeth’s reignReign refers to the time when you are King or Queen. So ‘Elizabeth’s reign’ is the time that she was the Queen.
TraditionSomething that has been done for a long time. It is part of the culture and belief of a group of people.
To signify somethingThis means to indicate something, to show something, to make something known.
…will appoint…If you appoint someone manager for example, you make them manager. You give them that new position.
OriginsThis is where something came from. Where it started.
Date back centuriesThis means ‘go back hundreds of years.’ It is hundreds of years old.
The monarch’s CourtThe court is where people, such as government members, came to meet the King and talk with each other.
Marked the first timeThis means that it will be remembered as the first time something was done.

Queen Elizabeth’s reign came to an end with the ceremonial ‘breaking of the Wand’ by the Lord Chamberlain. The tradition of breaking the wand of office signifies the end of the Lord Chamberlain’s service to the Queen. 

The lord chamberlain is the most senior position in the royal household. They are responsible for organising ceremonial activities such as weddings, funerals and state visits. A state visit is when the leader of another country visits the country.

King Charles III [3rd], will appoint a lord chamberlain of his own, who will receive a new wand of office. Its origins date back centuries when it was used by the lord chamberlain to warn people in the monarch’s court by tapping them on the shoulder if they were too noisy or disrespectful.

Queen Elizabeth II [2nd] funeral marked the first time in history that it was seen by the public.

The Gun Carriage

The State Gun Carriage
The Royal Navy have been pulling it since 1901
Bitterly coldThis means very cold.
SpookedIf you are ‘spooked’ by something, you are scared/afraid of something.
To step inIf you ‘step in’, you take control of something.
FoundedThis means when something was first started/created.
An integral part ofA ‘very important part’ of something.

The Royal Navy will be pulling the Queen’s coffin as part of a tradition that dates back to the reign of Queen Victoria. The State Gun Carriage that they use has been in the care of the Royal Navy since 1901 and has a fascinating history.

The tradition of sailors pulling the coffin was brought in after the horses used to pull Queen Victoria’s coffin on a bitterly cold day in February 1901 for her funeral, were spooked and almost knocked over the coffin.

Captain Prince Louis of Battenberg saved the day and suggested to the new monarch, Edward VII [7TH], that the ‘senior service’ should step in and pull the coffin.

Queen Victoria’s funeral in 1901 was the first time the Royal Navy pulled the Gun Carriage

Who are the senior service?

The Royal Navy is traditionally the oldest part of the British armed forces, founded during the reign of Henry VIII [8th], and so is known as the ‘Senior Service’.

Once this was agreed, ropes were attached to the gun carriage, which weighs 3,000kg (2.5 tonnes), and the team of sailors were brought in to make sure the coffin was carried safely. It was only nine years later, at the funeral of Edward VII [7th], that this became an integral part of a Monarch’s funeral.

It has also been used for the funerals of several other monarchs, including those of King George V [5th] and the Queen’s father, King George VI [6th], in 1952. Furthermore, part of the tradition of the gun carriage is to have the ‘Royal Company of Archers’ and the ‘Yeomen Warders’ walk either side of the carriage, but who are they?

The Royal Company of Archers

They have performed this role since 1822
They are based in Edinburgh, Scotland
BodyguardThis is someone whose job is to protect you.
VoluntaryIf you do something voluntary, you don’t get paid for it. You choose to do it for free.
At the request of the KingThis means the King has asked them to do something.
Steeped in historySomething has a long and interesting history.
…has long celebrated…This means that something has been celebrated for a long time.
A sporting trophyA trophy is something like a cup that is given to someone or a team that has won something.

The Royal Company of Archers, serve as the sovereign’s bodyguard in Scotland. As of now, they are the Kings bodyguard for Scotland.

They have performed this role since 1822 during the reign of King George IV [4th], when the company provided a personal bodyguard to the King on his visit to Scotland. They are a voluntary unit and perform duties at the request of the King.

Although known as the King’s Bodyguard for Scotland, they are also known as ‘The Royal Company’ and are located in Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland. Steeped in history, The Royal Company of Archers has long celebrated the talent of local archers

The company actually dates back to 1676, where gentlemen were encouraged to take part in archery. They often competed in Edinburgh to win the Musselburgh Arrow, believed to be the oldest sporting trophy dating back to around 1603.

The Royal Company of Archers protecting Queen Elizabeth II coffin

Yeoman Warders

The Yeoman Warders were formed in 1485
They have protected the Tower of London since 1509
Formed inThis means when something was created/first started.
TheoryThis is an ‘idea’ that might explain why something happened.
ExecutedIf you are executed, you are killed.
PoisonThis is something that if eaten or drunk, can kill you.
LoyalIf you are ‘loyal’ to someone, you give them 100% support.

The Yeoman Warders were formed in 1485 by the first Tudor monarch, Henry VII [7th], after the Battle of Bosworth. They were originally part of the Yeoman of the Guard – the monarch’s personal bodyguard who travelled with him everywhere.

Later, Henry VIII [8th] decided that the Tower of London should be protected by part of the royal bodyguard in 1509. They have been guarding the Tower of London ever since.

Also known as ‘Beefeaters’, they can live in the Tower of London and be surrounded by history 24 hours a day.

Why are the King’s guards called Beefeaters?

Dating back to 1485, there are a number of theories surrounding the origin of the name. One is that it comes from the old French word ‘buffetier’, which means ‘food taster’. After Henry VII [7th] had two of his wives executed, it’s thought that he was worried that he might be poisoned so had his guards taste the food first.

Good for the King, but not so good for the guard who was chosen to taste the food.

Another theory is that the guards were paid in beef rather than money, while a third theory suggests they were called ‘Beefeaters’ because they ate far better than many of the other royal servants at the time.

No matter what the real reason is, they have a great history and have been loyal servants of kings and Queens since 1485.

The Yeoman Warders protecting Queen Elizabeth II coffin

You will always make me smile

Queen Elizabeth II: 1926 -2022