State funerals – and the closely related ceremonial funerals – are lavish affairs that celebrate the lives of royals and highly distinguished figures. These extravagant ceremonies come at a very expensive cost to both the government and taxpayer, especially when you compare funeral directors to see what it would cost the everyday person. We take a look at some of the most well-known state and ceremonial funerals to see how much they cost the UK.
Princess Diana of Wales
Princess Diana was undoubtedly loved by the public, leaving many people devastated when she passed away at just 36 years old. People around the world were struck with grief when news of the fatal car accident broke and – according to History.com – an estimated 2.5 billion people watched her funeral on TV and 3 million mourners flocked to London to pay their respects. It’s been estimated that her Royal ceremonial funeral would cost £7.7 million in today’s money.
The former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom received a state funeral when he passed away at the age of 90 in 1965. Politicians aren’t always entitled to state funerals but, according to The Telegraph, Queen Elizabeth II stated that Churchill should have a ceremony that commemorated him “on a scale befitting his position in history”.
Churchill’s funeral was estimated to be the largest state funeral up to that date – even the Queen attended to pay her respects. It is thought to have cost £48,000 at the time, which is the equivalent of around £650,000 in today’s money.
Margaret Thatcher’s funeral became a controversial topic that divided the country. Although she had many supporters, there were others who believed she didn’t deserve a state funeral, despite the fact she was the first female UK Prime Minister. There was considerable outrage as newspapers suggested that it would cost up to a whopping £10 million.
In the end, Thatcher received a similar ceremonial funeral with full military honours costing a total of £3.6 million as confirmed by Downing Street. It may not have been the estimated £10 million, but Thatcher’s funeral was still extremely costly.
Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother
Queen Elizabeth was known for her unbeatable attitude during the second world war. She was a woman with an indomitable spirit which helped raise morale during such difficult times.
Although she was queen, Elizabeth did not receive a state funeral as it was her husband George VI who held the throne. However, The Guardian stated that the royal ceremonial funeral she received was practically identical to a traditional state funeral.
The Guardian also estimates that her funeral would be in the range of several million pounds, although the costs have been kept relatively private. It has been reported that it cost the Ministry of Defence around £301,000. Policing costs haven’t been confirmed but security for royal funerals is known to be expensive, so you can only imagine just how high the total cost was.