St George’s Chapel: 15th century funeral venue steeped in royal history

Laura Elston, PA Court Reporter
·3-min read

St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle is the resting place of 10 monarchs.

Steeped in history, the 15th century gothic church, set in the Lower Ward of the Queen’s favourite residence, has seen many royal funerals and weddings.

The Royal wedding
Harry and Meghan in the Chapel during their wedding service (Owen Humphreys/PA)

It was the setting for the marriage of the Duke of Sussex and Meghan Markle, now the Duchess of Sussex, in May 2018.

The Duke of Edinburgh, who had just recovered from a hip operation, was among the 600 guests who gathered to watch Harry, the Queen and Philip’s grandson, wed the American former actress in a star-studded ceremony.

The West Steps
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle on the steps of St George’s Chapel (Ben Stansall/PA)

It was also the venue for the wedding of Princess Eugenie to Jack Brooksbank in October 2018.

As well as the scene of royal celebrations, it has also been a place of sadness for the Windsors.

The funeral of Princess Margaret, the Queen’s sister, took place at St George’s in 2002, as did the private committal service for the Queen Mother the same year.

George VI's funeral
The funeral of King George VI in St George’s Chapel (PA)

Both are now buried in the tiny George VI Memorial Chapel within the main chapel with the Queen’s father King George VI, whose funeral took place at St George’s in 1952.

The chapel in Berkshire was also the setting for the funerals of Princess Alexandra’s husband Sir Angus Ogilvy in 2005 and Princess Alice, Duchess of Gloucester in 2004.

The Queen Mother's burial place
The George VI Memorial Chapel within St George’s Chapel, where the Queen Mother and King George VI are buried, along with the ashes of Princess Margaret (Tim Ockenden/PA)

Within the chapel are the tombs of 10 sovereigns – as well as George VI, the remains of Edward IV, Henry VI, Henry VIII and his third wife Jane Seymour, the beheaded Charles I, George III, George IV, William IV, Edward VII and George V also rest there.

The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall’s marriage was blessed in the gothic surrounds in 2005 while the Earl and Countess of Wessex wed there in 1999.

Charles and Camilla on their wedding day
The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall after their marriage blessing at St George’s Chapel (Bob Collier/PA)

Construction of the chapel was started in 1475 by Edward IV and completed under Henry VIII in 1528.

The chapel is a place of worship for the sovereign and the royal family, and is often at the heart of royal events.

The Windsors gather there each year for Easter services and in the past for occasions such as the service to mark the Duke of Edinburgh’s 90th birthday.

Royals at Easter Sunday church service
The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh leave following an Easter Sunday service at St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle (Peter Nicholls/PA)

Like Westminster Abbey, it is known as a Royal Peculiar, with the Dean of Windsor responsible only to the sovereign.

It is the Chapel of the Order of the Garter, the premier order of chivalry in England.

Each year in June, royals who are Knights and Ladies of the Garter usually process in carriages from Windsor Castle’s state apartments down the hill to the chapel for the traditional Order of the Garter ceremony.

Order Of The Garter
The Duke of York, the Earl of Wessex, the Duke of Cambridge and the Prince of Wales during the annual procession for members of the Order of the Garter (Arthur Edwards/PA)

They dress in their Garter robes – heavy blue velvet capes and black velvet hats with elaborate white ostrich plumes.

On each side of the Quire are the beautifully carved stalls of the Knights and Ladies of the Garter, constructed between 1478 and 1495.

Last year’s Order of the Garter ceremony was cancelled because of the Covid-19 crisis.