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Foreign News: Burial at Windsor

7 minute read

Heavy indeed was the burden of Empire which events, imposed last week upon the new King.

The weather was cold but sunny on the day Sandringham sent the last remains of beloved George V on a gun carriage to the railway station, with Queen Mary, the Princess Royal and the Duchesses of York. Gloucester and Kent following sorrowfully by carriage. King Edward and his three brothers walked bareheaded the whole two and a half miles, the collars of their closely-buttoned and furlined greatcoats upturned as they approached the station.

Norfolk villagers, with tears in their eyes, pressed as close as they respectfully could to the Royal Train. Jock, faithful pony of the late King-Emperor, was left with the country folk but Charlotte, the venerable parrot of George V, was put aboard the train which for the first half mile steamed along at a walking pace.

The hour set for arrival in London was 3 p. m. but somehow the train got there 15 minutes ahead of schedule. In the royal salon car as it drew into King’s Cross Station a painful dilemma was in course. Gently the King urged Queen Mary and the Duchesses to alight at once and set out by limousine for Westminster Hall close by the Abbey, where George V was to lie in state. The Queen in her grief felt that she should not leave the railway station until the gun carriage bearing George V had rolled away. Assenting, the King then proposed to start the procession at once. The Queen reminded him that 3 p. m. was the hour at which Londoners expected the cortege to leave the station. Through the plate glass window of the salon. Edward VIII could be seen gently urging his point. Then he swung swiftly to the door of the car. Stepping out, His Majesty ordered the guard of honor, which had frozen at rigid attention, to “stand at ease” until just before 3 p. m.

The ordeal of walking behind the casket, upon which now rested the Imperial State Crown brought from the Tower of London told visibly on Edward VIII as he tramped the additional three and one-half miles. At one point London’s massed and silent grief for George V was broken by a brief, explosive cheer for Edward VIII. This was instantly chopped short by His Majesty who frowningly jerked his head in the direction of the cheer. As he plodded on. His Majesty began to limp from fatigue. As he forced himself on beside the Dukes of York and Gloucester, subjects noticed that King Edward repeatedly clenched his jaw, bit his lips.

The solemn lying in state of the body of George V evoked tremendous homage. Spontaneously Britons of all degrees hurried from Scotland. Wales, the English counties, London suburbs and all parts of the great metropolis to form a line eight-abreast which began more than a mile up the Thames Embankment and day & night filed sadly through Westminster Hall. It was so cold that middle-aged “Beefeaters” from the Tower and Gentlemen of the King’s Guard wore their heaviest cloaks, but the four officers rigid at the corners of the bier stood in their uniforms only, chilled to the marrow. The great throng’s moment of deepest emotion came when it was known that Queen Mary and Edward VIII, unannounced, had quietly entered by a side door. Down the mile-long line passed the simple affecting words, “The King and Queen are with us.”

An angry delegation marched to No. 10 Downing St. in the dead of night to protest to the Prime Minister that the doors of Westminster Hall had been shut against His Majesty’s subjects at 3:42 a. m. They were reopened after the cleaners for whom they had been closed had swept up, and in all some 800,000 Britons paid to George V, “the best King who has ever reigned in England,” their heartfelt tributes of extraordinary devotion.

Meanwhile British destroyers hurried back & forth across the channel escorting to England five kings, the President of France, two queens, four crown princes and a crown princess, 14 princes and ten Foreign Ministers. For one & all were fired salutes. Queen Maud of Norway, only surviving child of Britain’s Edward VII, arrived with her tall King Haakon VII; Queen Alexandrine of Denmark with her even taller King Christian X. Sad Leopold III, widower King of the Belgians, came with his brother. Tsar Boris III of Bulgaria left his Tsarina in Sofia.

The “Horrible Hohenzollern,” buck-toothed King Carol II of Rumania, put his Jewish Mistress Magda Lupescu aboard his Royal Train at Bucharest and rattled off to Paris where Magda alighted and remained. His Majesty was brought to Dover on the British destroyer Montrose, received a 21-gun salute from Dover Cas tle, was met in London by the heir to the Throne, the Duke of York, and took up residence in the house of a sister of one time U. S. Secretary of the Treasury Ogden Mills. Her husband, the Irish Earl of Granard, was Master of the Horse to King George and in the earl’s house Carol II was styled officially a “guest of King Edward VIII,” the explanation being offered that other foreign kings & queens were occupying all available suites in Buckingham Palace.

President Roosevelt was represented in the funeral procession which wound slowly this week from Westminster Hall to Paddington Station by grey & graceful little Ambassador-at-Large Norman Hezekiah Davis, to whom was assigned as Lord-in-Waiting moose-tall Lord Howard of Penrith, onetime British Ambassador in Washington. For Adolf Hitler walked owl-solemn Baron Constantin von Neurath, who is not a Nazi. For Benito Mussolini stepped spruce Crown Prince Umberto. Tsar Boris of Bulgaria had to make his legs twinkle to keep up with the long strides of Swedish Crown Prince Gustaf. For Joseph Stalin walked Soviet Foreign Minister Maxim Maximovich Litvinoff. Only unexpected absentee was George V’s particular friend and protege George II, the newly restored King of Greece (TIME, Nov. 18). His Majesty was detained in Athens because the former Greek Dictator, Field Marshal George Kondylis, threatened to lead a coup d’etat against the Throne if this week’s election went against Kondylis. Against him it went.

Special train after special train bearing Their Majesties, Their Excellencies, Their Royal Highnesses. Their Graces. Their Reverences, Lords and Ladies, Right Honorables and commoners of renown chuffed slowly toward Windsor on the last solemn journey of George V. who founded the House of Windsor. That deed stands imperishably in history with such monoliths as PLANTAGENET. The late King was born Saxe-Coburg-and-Gotha. Very unobtrusively in His Majesty’s funeral escort this week moved His Royal Highness Leopold Charles Edward George Albert, Duke of Saxe-Coburg-and-Gotha in Germany, Prince Royal of Great Britain and Ireland and a Gruppenführer of Nazi Storm Troops.

The last rites, simple but majestic, were performed by George V’s lifelong friend the Archbishop of Canterbury and highest Anglican prelates in St. George’s Chapel, Windsor. Fittingly, since England was burying her “Sailor King,” his son Edward VIII wore the uniform George V held so much more dear than the ermine, the purple and the cloth of gold: the blue of Admiral in the Royal Navy.

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