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St. George’s Chapel, the Royal Vault & the Royal Burial Ground

Exterior view of St. George's Chapel

Photo by Michael Gaylor on Flickr

The kings and queens of the British Royal Family are not buried in a single site. The graves of some, such as Alfred the Great, are unknown. The majority of modern royals, however, are buried in Windsor. Either in St. George’s Chapel, the Royal Vault beneath the chapel, or the nearby Royal Burial Ground at Frogmore House.

Who is buried in St. George’s Chapel?

Illustration of the funeral of George v of Hanover in St. George's Chapel

Illustration by Sydney Prior Hall, Royal Collection, on Wikimedia Commons

Since its construction in the 15th century many royals have been buried in St. George’s Chapel. The tombs of King Henry VIII and Charles I are in the Quire. Edward IV, Henry VII, and Queen Alexandra are buried in the Quire Aisles.

Edward VII, George V and George VI were originally buried in the Royal Vault, but their bodies were moved to tombs in the chapel itself a few years after their deaths.

Interior view of quire in St. George's Chapel

Photo by Serendigity on Flickr

King George VI’s body was moved into a specially constructed annex of the chapel, the King George VI Memorial Chapel, in 1969.

The Queen Mother and Princess Margaret, Queen Elizabeth II’s younger sister, both died in 2002. The Queen Mother was directly interred in the King George VI Chapel, next to her husband, and although Princess Margaret’s ashes were originally kept in the Royal Vault they were also moved to the chapel a few months later. Princess Margaret was one of very few royals to be cremated rather than buried.

It is widely assumed that on her death, the Queen will also be buried in St. George’s Chapel.

What is the Royal Vault?

The Royal Vault is a burial chamber beneath St. George’s Chapel in Windsor, that was excavated between 1804 and 1810 on the instruction of King George III. The first interment was in a temporary vault near the entrance in 1810, for Princess Amelia, youngest daughter of the king. Since then the tombs of many other kings and queens of the United Kingdom, and several other notable royals, have been buried in the Royal Vault.

  • HRH The Princess Charlotte (daughter of George IV; she died when her father was still Prince Regent), 1817

  • HRH Queen Charlotte (wife of George III), 1818

  • HRH Prince Edward, Duke of Kent (brother of George III, and father of Queen Victoria), 1820

  • HM George III, 1820

  • HM George IV, 1830

  • HM William IV, 1837

  • HRH The Prince Albert Victor (Eldest son of Edward VII, predeceased future George V), 1892

Copy of newspaper from 1830 describing the funeral of George IV, with reference to the royal vault

Photo by Wellcome Images on Flickr

Burial in the Royal Vault has become much less common because of space constraints. Since the 1930s burial of senior members of the Royal Family in St. George’s Chapel was resumed and junior members were interred in the Royal Burial Ground at Frogmore House.

The last burial in the Royal Vault was Princess Andrew, the mother of Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, in 1969, but her body was transferred to Jerusalem in 1988. As well as George V and George VI some other senior royals, such as Queen Mary, were also transferred to St. George’s Chapel.

The most recent burial that remains in the Royal Vault is Princess Frederika of Hanover, who was interred in 1926. She was a great-granddaughter of George III, who originally ordered the construction of the vault 122 years earlier.

Traditionally, when someone was buried in the Royal Vault the coffin was lowered into it through a special opening in the floor of St. George’s Chapel during their funeral.

Close-up of panel in 19th century broadsheet newspaper describing the funeral of George IV in St. George's Chapel and lowering of his coffin into the Royal Vault

Photo by Wellcome Images on Wikimedia Commons

What is the Royal Burial Ground?

View of Princess Louis's grave in the Royal Burial ground, with other ledger memorials in shot

Photo by Peter Symonds on Wikimedia Commons

The Royal Burial Ground is the private cemetery of the royal family of the United Kingdom. It was consecrated in 1928 and became the designated burial site for junior members of the royal family.

Prince Arthur, a son of Queen Victoria, Princess Victoria, a daughter of Edward VII, and Prince George, Duke of Kent, a son of George V, were interred in it. The most famous burials at Frogmore are the graves of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, formerly Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson.

The Royal Burial Ground is not open to the public, but it can be viewed from the perimeter on the few days of the year that Frogmore House is open.

Where else are members of the Royal Family buried?

Exterior view of the front of Westminster Abbey on a sunny day

Photo by Sean O'Neil on Flickr

St. George's Chapel, the Royal Vault and the Royal Burial Ground are not the only sites where members of the royal family are interred. The majority of Medieval and Early Modern kings and queens, however, are buried in Westminster Abbey. Royal burials in the abbey stopped after the construction of St. George's Chapel, but since then many other notable people, particularly famous writers, have been interred in it.

Copy of hand-drawn plan of Westminster Abbey, including tombs of kings and queens buried in it

Image by Mrs. A Murray Smith on Wikimedia Commons

The Royal Mausoleum, which houses the tomb of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, and the mausoleum of the Duchess of Kent, Victoria’s mother, are also situated at Frogmore House, adjacent to the Royal Burial Ground.

Princess Diana is buried on an island on the Althorp Estate in Hampshire, which is owned by her birth-family, the Spencers.

Perhaps the most famous royal burial outside of London, however, was the funeral of Richard III in Leicester Cathedral in 2015, after the discovery of his body underneath a car park in the city.