It was on a cold morning in March 1862 when up to 100 people gathered to watch as a mournful Queen Victoria laid the foundation stone for a project that she and her late husband, Prince Albert, had set their minds on for years: a final resting place that would reunite them forever.
Having been declared unstable and closed in 2007, the Royal Mausoleum is set to open to the public again, as plans to restore the tomb are given a royal nod.
According to The Telegraph, the royal burial site at Frogmore, Windsor, will undergo significant ground works and excavations to reduce further damage from damp. The Queen-Empress herself was once warned that the location was constantly flooded and required heating all year round to keep off decay. Those fears seem to have materialised.
The campaign to restore the mausoleum has been spearheaded by Conservatives MP Sir Edward Leigh, who said in a statement that it was good for historical awareness for the building to be in good condition.
Sir Edward said, “I am delighted that Buckingham Palace are ensuring the necessary work is being done to restore this beautiful mausoleum to a state befitting the Queen-Empress who gave her name to the era of Britain’s greatest age of social, cultural, and economic advancement.
“I hope one day it will be better known, and I am glad to see further substantial restoration will commence shortly.”
The mausoleum is thought to have cost up to £200,000 which Victoria paid from her own money. In accordance with Albert’s wishes, she commissioned his German arts advisor Ludwig Gruner to design a structure that followed a mausoleum erected in Coburg for the prince’s father, Duke Ernest I.
Two marble effigies for the Queen and her Prince Consort were also created simultaneously so that Victoria wouldn’t look older than Albert when her time came. Above the entrance, an inscription read “Farewell best loved, here at last I shall rest with thee, with thee in Christ I shall rise again.”
The Queen remained a frequent visitor to the mausoleum for over forty years. She went there to pray, contemplate and even consult the prince before signing off documents.