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A History Of St George’s Chapel: The Edwardian Era & The Rise of The House of Windsor

King Edward VII in Robes of The Order of The Garter by Philip Tennyson Cole, Creative Commons

King Edward VII was the eldest son of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert and is the great-grandfather of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. He waited longer than anyone in history, minus the current Prince of Wales, for his turn to sit on the throne. And despite having been christened, married (read our post about his wedding here: https://bit.ly/2Kkxg0z), and buried in St George’s Chapel, Edward VII never took a particular interest in the chapel or made a noticeable mark on it during his ten-year reign.

The Christening of The Prince of Wales at St George's Chapel, 25 January 1842 by George Hayter, Creative Commons

Edward VII did revive the pomp and pageantry that had been mostly laid aside by his mother during the forty years she spent in mourning following the death of her husband. In this celebratory spirit, King Edward contributed greatly to The Order of the Garter. He revived the of the appointment of Ladies of The Garter, assigning a stall and banner for his wife Queen Alexandra in 1901, his first year as King. However, no Garter ceremony or service had taken place since the days of George III. This practice was revived by Edward VII’s son King George V. The first of these ceremonies took place on 10th June, 1911, twelve days before his Coronation. There was a similar annual Garter ceremony in the next three years until the outbreak of the First World War. On 13th May, 1915, George V reluctantly sanctioned the removal of eight knight’s banners, all German/Austrian (and therefore on the wrong side of The Great War). In 1917 he went even further and changed the name of the British Royal House from the German Saxe-Coburg and Gotha to the utterly English name of Windsor.

The Marriage of the Prince of Wales at St George's Chapel, 10 March 1863, by William Powell Frith, Creative Commons

King Edward VII died on May 6, 1910. His funeral took place on May 20 and is reported to have been the largest gathering of European Royals in history; indeed there were no less than nine Kings (including his son George V) among the mourners at St George's Chapel. The King lays in a magnificent tomb within the chapel, where he was joined by his wife Queen Alexandra fifteen years later.

The Funeral of King Edward VIII at St Georges, Windsor, Creative Commons

Tomorrow: The Early House of Windsor!

- Written by Duncan Sowry-House