A ROYAL funeral at which two spectators were killed is the subject of today's look at the past.

We've recently delved into some of the archives of the Bankes family of Dorset, which are being archived by the Dorset History Centre in Dorchester.

Among the archivists is West Stafford resident Roger Lane, who shares these diary entries by Henry Bankes on Queen Caroline's illness and death.

Henry, who lived at Kingston Lacy House, served as an MP for 51 years, first for Corfe Castle and then for Dorset.

Caroline of Brunswick was Queen consort of the United Kingdom as the wife of King George IV from January 29 1820 until her death in 1821.

Roger takes up the story: "A fortnight after his Coronation, George IV went on a “royal progress” to Ireland, clearly hoping that his estranged wife, Queen Caroline, would leave London before he returned. She did, but not in the way he expected. She died after a short, painful illness and her body was swiftly conveyed to Harwich for burial in her native Brunswick.

The speed of the procession, protested the Guardian on August 18th, 1821, has been so rapid as to resemble a race rather than the movements of a funeral train. Even so, the Government could not prevent rioting; Radical MPs and the London Mayor encouraged the mob in blocking the original route, so diverting the carriages through the City. After a scene of confusion and outrage in Hyde Park, “the people’s Queen”, as the Guardian might have called Caroline, was treated with respect; her whom they had loved in life, they followed in death and invariably stood uncovered as the hearse passed. In his journal, meticulous as ever, Henry Bankes, gives a detailed account of the Queen’s illness and death, the mismanagement of the funeral, the killing of two spectators and the inquests that followed. He clearly relies on newspapers for the facts, but expresses very different opinions; he is hostile to the Queen and contemptuous of her supporters.

The Queen’s illness and death.

"After her humiliation on Coronation Day whatever (the Queen) does or wherever she moves is become now a matter of very little consequence to the government or other persons. Underestimating this centre of mischief was a serious error of judgement, but it was understandable. Things had been going much better from George IV’s point of view; public opinion seemed to have swung in his favour. Now, instead of conspiracy theorists spreading rumours of poisoning, Caroline had had her own trusted physicians in attendance. Both…had been employed in her defence, and were appointed her executors. They confirmed that her death resulted from an obstruction in her bowels which no power of medicine succeeded in removing for many hours. At last a passage was effected; but whether she absolutely refused to take further remedies prescribed, as was reported, or whether her disorder was too violent for all medical skill even if it had been applied according to the directions of her physicians, she expired on the night of August 7th.

Then, the best news of all: her desire with regard to the disposition of her body was that it should be conveyed to Brunswick & buried there near her father & brother; that it should be removed from Brandenburg House within three days. & not exposed to public view. So, no need for George IV to return from Ireland for a public funeral."

Plans for the funeral procession….

"Ld Liverpool & the ministers who did not attend the King in Ireland immediately gave directions for carrying this request into execution deeming it very fortunate that she herself had pointed out a mode which appeared unexceptionable & likely to create less popular sensation & tumult than any other. “Fortunate” certainly but no cause for complacency; Ld Liverpool miscalculated. He ignored complaints that the line of road,

..by skirting the metropolis would not pass through the City. Nor did he pay any attention when the Lord Mayor and Aldermen passed resolutions for receiving the corpse with all possible honour, provided it should be allowed to proceed by that way which it was known was not intended. He also rejected a proposal to convey the coffin by water from Hammersmith to Harwich. Henry comments: How the procession might have proceeded by the Thames can only be conjectured, but that the means taken for accomplishing the intended journey by land completely failed, was, within not many hours from its commencement most lamentably demonstrated."

*Next week we find out what happened when the funeral plans went wrong and how it resulted in the deaths of spectators...