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Which queens are buried at Westminster Abbey?

Queen Elizabeth I
By Formerly attributed to George Gower - , Public Domain, Wiki Commons

We’ve looked at the kings who are buried at Westminster Abbey, now let’s take a look at the queens (both regnant and consort) who are buried there, too.

Edith of Wessex

As consort to Edward the Confessor, Edith of Wessex’s tenure lasted from 1045 to 1066, upon the death of her husband. Unusual for the time period, Edith was a crowned queen, but sadly, the marriage produced no children. Edith died in 1075 and was buried, in a regal funeral service arranged by William the Conqueror, at Westminster Abbey next to her husband.

According to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, “Edith the Lady died seven nights before Christmas in Winchester, she was King Edward’s wife, and the king had her brought to Westminster with great honour and laid her near King Edward, her lord.”

Eleanor of Castile

The beloved queen consort of Edward I, Eleanor of Castile’s tenure as queen lasted from 1272 to 1290. Though theirs was a political marriage built to strengthen England’s sovereignty over Gascony (Eleanor’s father, Alfonso X, had also, at one point, attempted to claim sovereignty), it blossomed into a true love match that produced 16 children, though not all lived to adulthood.

Eleanor often travelled with her husband on progresses and it was during one such trip in 1290 that she fell seriously ill and died in Harby, Nottinghamshire. Edward I, heartbroken, had his wife’s body brought back to Westminster Abbey in a huge procession designed to honour her memory. Later, he had ‘Eleanor Crosses’ erected along the route her body had taken to its final resting place.

Eleanor’s tomb consists of a marble chest that features the arms of England, Castile and Ponthieu. She was buried in a funeral service on 17 December 1290.

Philippa of Hainault

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Consort to the long-reigning Edward III, Philippa’s tenure as queen consort lasted from 1328 to 1369. Philippa was considered an influential political advisor to her husband and even acted as regent when he was away fighting in the Hundred Years’ War.

She was not crowned as queen consort until 1330 due to her mother-in-law Isabella of France’s reluctance to relinquish her position. After Edward III launched a coup to remove his mother and her lover, Roger Mortimer, from power, Philippa enjoyed her tenure as queen, and produced 13 children, though not all survived into adulthood.

Philippa died on 15 August 1369 at Windsor Castle from an illness noted to be similar to edema (a build up of fluid in the body’s tissue) and received a state funeral on 9 January 1370 with a burial at Westminster Abbey that included an alabaster effigy. When Edward III died in 1377, he was buried next to his queen.

Anne of Bohemia

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Anne of Bohemia, the first queen consort of Richard II, enjoyed a tenure that lasted from 1382 to 1394. Their marriage was a result of the Western Schism that saw two popes claim supremacy —including one, Pope Urban VI, who gave blessing to their marriage to curry favour with Anne’s father, Charles IV, the Holy Roman Emperor.

Anne was only 16 when she married Richard and steadily grew in popularity with the English who had been suspicious of their young king’s foreign bride to begin with. The couple had no children, and sadly, Anne died of the plague in 1394 at Sheen Manor, which Richard had demolished after her death due to his grief.

Anne, who predeceased her husband by six years, was laid to rest at Westminster Abbey in what would soon become the first joint burial tomb. Their effigies would be holding hands, and the inscription on Anne’s tomb reads “beauteous in body and her face was gentle and pretty.” When the tomb was opened in the 1800s, it was discovered that most of her bones had been stolen due to a hole in the side of her casket.

Catherine of Valois

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The French princess who married Henry V — and who, after his death, helped start the House of Tudor that led to a famed dynasty — is buried at Westminster Abbey and, for centuries, was a sort-of sideshow attraction for visitors.

Catherine’s tenure as queen consort was short, lasting just over two years from 1420 to 1422, and produced a son, Henry VI, who succeeded his father at only nine months old. The next major relationship Catherine had was with Owen Tudor, a Welsh courtier, and it produced several children.

Whether or not they married is up for debate, as there are no historical or contemporary resources available that indicate that they did although there was no requirement for records of marriages to be kept in England at the time. Their eldest son, Edmund Tudor, married Lady Margaret Beaufort but died before the birth of their only child, Henry Tudor. Henry spent much of his life in exile until he defeated Richard III in battle in 1485 and became the first monarch in the House of Tudor.

Catherine died in 1437, never having known about the Wars of the Roses or seeing her grandson establish a dynasty. There is speculation as to what killed her, with a sudden illness being the likeliest cause. Catherine entered Bermondsey Abbey in London for treatment and died there, and was transported to Westminster Abbey for burial.

Her alabaster memorial was destroyed during renovations to the Abbey during Henry VII’s reign, and the lid on her coffin was lifted so that her corpse was viewable to anyone who stopped by her burial site. For centuries, her corpse was on display, and it wasn’t until the reign of Queen Victoria in the 1800s that she was re-interred.

Anne Neville

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Anne Neville was queen consort to a controversial monarch. Married to Richard III, her tenure as queen lasted just under two years from June 1483 to March 1485.

Richard, her second husband, would claim the English throne following the death of his older brother Edward IV in 1483, ultimately disinheriting his nieces and nephews (including Edward V, his brother’s heir) and labelling them as illegitimate in a bid to ascend to the throne.

The royal couple had only one son, Edward of Middleham, who passed away in 1484. His death plunged Anne into deep mourning, and she fell ill only months later, succumbing to an illness—likely tuberculosis—on 16 March 1485. On the day of her death, a solar eclipse appeared in the sky over England, causing many to believe it was an omen about Richard III’s future. Mere months later, he would be the last English king to die in battle, when Henry Tudor (later Henry VII) defeated him at the Battle of Bosworth on August 22, 1485.

Anne was buried at Westminster Abbey in an unmarked grave, and it wasn’t until 1960 that a plaque was placed on the wall near her burial site by the Richard III Society. Richard III’s body was undiscovered until 24 August 2012, when an archeological dig in a parking lot in Leicester unveiled his bones. He was interred at Greyfriars Church in Leicester in March 2015.

Elizabeth of York

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Hers was a marriage that united the Houses of York and Lancaster and ended the Wars of the Roses. Elizabeth of York, daughter of Edward IV, married Henry Tudor (Henry VII) in 1486. Though it was a strategic marriage, it ultimately led to a true love match, with the monarchs falling in love with each other and having seven children (including Henry VIII, Margaret, Queen of Scotland, and Mary, Queen of France).

Elizabeth of York was queen consort from 1486 until her untimely death following complications from childbirth in 1503. She died on her 37th birthday, leaving a devastated family in her wake.

Elizabeth was buried in a tomb at Westminster Abbey in a chapel commissioned by her husband and subsequently named the Henry VII Chapel. There was a wooden effigy atop her casket. Henry VII was heartbroken and never remarried. When he died in 1509, he was buried next to his wife in their Chapel.

Anne of Cleves

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The fourth of Henry VIII’s wives, Anne of Cleves was one of the luckier ones who got to divorce him rather than lose her head. Her tenure as queen consort to a fickle king lasted mere months: Henry chose his new bride based on a portrait of her and, when he met her in person, he was disappointed with her looks, feeling that he’d been misled.

Henry and Anne were married on 6 January 1540, but by 24 June, she was forced to leave court and their union was annulled on 9 July, based on the non-consummation of their marriage and a pre-contract of marriage to Francis of Lorraine (a union that ultimately never came to pass).

Anne stayed in England following the annulment and was a vocal supporter of her one-time stepdaughter, Mary I. She fell ill in 1557 and died on 16 July, weeks before her 42nd birthday. Her tomb at Westminster Abbey is described as difficult to find, near the shrine of Edward the Confessor. She was the last of Henry VIII’s wives to die.

Mary I of England

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The first queen regnant in English history, Mary I reigned for a brief five years between 1553 and 1558. Her reign began on a wave of public support but she lost popularity quickly owing to her attempts at religious reform (Mary was Catholic and the religion of the country was Protestantism) and her marriage to Philip of Spain. She has earned the sobriquet ‘Bloody Mary’ for the religious persecution during her reign.

Mary died on 17 November 1558 following a phantom pregnancy that may have been uterine cancer or ovarian cysts. Though her will stipulated that she wished to be buried with her mother, Catherine of Aragon, she was buried at Westminster Abbey on 14 December in a tomb that she would eventually share with her half-sister and heir, Elizabeth I. The inscription on their tomb reads, “Consorts in realm and tomb, we sisters Elizabeth and Mary here lie down to sleep in hope of the resurrection.”

Mary, Queen of Scots

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Mary, Queen of Scots, a rival of Elizabeth I’s, was the Queen of Scotland from 1542—six days after her birth—until 1567, when she abdicated in favour of her one-year-old son. She had also briefly been queen consort of France to Francis II from 1559 to 1560.

She tried to claim the English throne upon the death of Mary I, arguing that Elizabeth I was illegitimate, although this claim never came to fruition. Following many plots and plans in her own kingdom, Mary attempted to seek refuge under Elizabeth and was ultimately imprisoned for 18 years until she was found guilty of an assassination attempt in 1586 and was beheaded the following year.

She had requested burial in France though Elizabeth forbade it. Instead, she was buried at Peterborough Cathedral in July 1687. During the reign of her son, James VI and I, her body was exhumed and she was reinterred at Westminster Abbey opposite her rival, Elizabeth.

Queen Elizabeth I

One of the most famous English monarchs, Elizabeth I reigned over an age that saw the rise of English dramatists and seafaring exploration. She reigned for 44 years, from 17 November 1558 to 24 March 1603, the last Tudor monarch.

Elizabeth never married, declaring that she was wed to her country and always pushed away any attempts to set her up in marriage and let her husband rule in her stead. As she had no issue, a constant question surrounding who her successor would be dogged her throughout her life, and she refused to name an heir until near the end of her life.

Following a period of personal setbacks including the deaths of several friends and family members, Elizabeth’s health began to fail, and she died at Richmond Palace following a prolonged period of melancholy. She was succeeded by her first cousin twice removed, James VI of Scotland, son of her rival Mary, Queen of Scots.

Elizabeth was buried at Westminster Abbey on 28 April 1603. Her coffin had been carried down the River Thames by barge and was taken to the Abbey by horse-drawn carriage, with the horses covered in heavy black velvet. She shares a tomb with her half-sister Mary I, and the inscription reads, “Consorts in realm and tomb, we sisters Elizabeth and Mary here lie down to sleep in hope of the resurrection.”

Anne of Denmark

A queen consort of Scotland, England, and Ireland, Anne of Denmark was married to James VI and I of England. Her tenure as queen consort of England and Ireland lasted from 1603 to 1619; she’d been queen consort of Scotland since 1589.

Anne was a strong patron of the arts and set up a magnificent court once she became the queen of England. Together, she and her husband had nine children, though only seven survived childhood.

Anne began experiencing periods of ill health in 1612 and was attended by a physician for the rest of her life. She declined in her final years, dying of dropsy on 2 March 1619 at Hampton Court Palace. She was buried two months later at Westminster Abbey in Henry VII’s Chapel. The catafalque placed over her coffin was destroyed during the English Civil War.

Mary II

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The only monarch to co-reign with her spouse, Mary II, the rightful heir to her father’s throne, reigned from 1689 to 1694.

Following the Glorious Revolution, which saw the Catholic James II deposed, his daughter and her husband, William of Orange (William III), were asked to take the throne in his place. Though they reigned together, Mary was often left alone while her husband was away on campaigns, and was no shrinking violet. Unfortunately, she fell ill with smallpox in December 1694. She appeared to be getting better, with visible signs of the illness disappearing, though the infection had simply turned inward, and she died at Kensington Palace on 28 December 1694.

Buried at Westminster Abbey on 5 March 1695, her funeral was the first royal funeral that featured attendance from all members of both Houses of Parliament. William III continued to reign solo until 1702, when he died of pneumonia, and was buried alongside his wife.

Queen Anne

The last queen regnant to be buried at Westminster Abbey, Anne succeeded to the throne on the death of her brother-in-law and cousin William III in 1702.

Anne had been plagued by ill health all her life, and though she was married to George of Denmark for 25 years, they never had a child survive to adulthood. Anne was pregnant 17 times and only had five children live past birth, the longest-lived being her son William, who died at age 11 in 1700.

By the time of her death in 1714, she was in severe decline. She suffered a stroke on 30 July that left her unable to speak, and passed away on 1 August 1714. She was buried at Westminster Abbey next to her husband in Henry VII’s Chapel later that month.

Caroline of Ansbach

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The last queen to be buried at Westminster Abbey, Caroline of Ansbach was the wife of Hanoverian king George II and reigned as queen consort for a decade between 1727 and 1737. She first came to Great Britain with her husband in 1714 when they were the newly-named Prince and Princess of Wales, and succeeded as queen consort in 1727.

Caroline was a politically influential queen consort and even served as regent while her husband was in Hanover. She championed the arts and artists and spent most of her time in London.

By the time of her death, she was suffering from gout and an umbilical hernia she’d obtained during the birth of her final child. In November 1737, she took to her bed with stomach pains and it was discovered that part of her small intestines were sticking out of the hernia opening. Over the following few days, she lay in bed in pain until her bowel burst, and subsequently passed away on 20 November 1737 at the age of 54.

Caroline was buried at Westminster Abbey on 17 December, and her son, Frederick, with whom she’d always had a strained relationship, was not invited to the funeral. George II instructed that matching coffins with removable sides be constructed for the royal couple, and he was interred alongside her 23 years later.

About author

Jess is the Senior Royal Reporter and Editorial Assistant at Royal Central. Her interest in royalty started in her teenage years, coinciding with The Queen's Golden Jubilee in 2002 and grew from there. She specializes in the British Royal Family (with emphasis on the Cambridges) and the Danish Royal Family, and has provided royal commentary for media outlets in Canada, the United States, the UK and Australia.