What clothes are royals buried in?

Royals around the world are buried in lavish clothes and accessories that reflect their status and wealth. From intricate embroidery to heavy jewels, no expense is spared when it comes to a royal’s final outfit. But there are also traditions and protocols to follow when dressing a royal for burial. The specifics depend on the time period, culture, religion, and personal preferences of the deceased. Here’s an overview of what clothes royals of the past and present are buried in.

Quick facts on royal burial clothes

  • British royals are buried in specially made burial robes and accessories.
  • Past British kings and queens wore velvet robes embroidered with royal symbols.
  • Modern British royals like Princess Diana wore simpler gowns and suits.
  • Royal women are often buried wearing their wedding rings and jewelry.
  • Kings may be buried with items like swords, scepters, medals, and crowns.
  • Asian royals followed local and religious burial customs with lavish twists.
  • African kings were buried in colorful robes and precious metals.
  • Ancient Egyptian pharaohs had extremely elaborate burial clothes and gold masks.

British royal burial attire through history

For centuries, British royals have been buried in special ceremonial robes and accessories befitting their status. Here’s a look at how burial fashions have evolved over time:

Medieval to Renaissance periods

In the Middle Ages and into the Renaissance, English and British kings and queens were buried in lavish velvet robes embroidered with royal and religious symbols. For example:

  • King Edward II was buried in 1370 wearing velvet robes decorated with his coat of arms.
  • King Henry VII wore a blue velvet gown embroidered with the royal arms of England for his 1509 burial.
  • Queen Elizabeth I wore a robe similar to her coronation robe when she was buried in 1603.

Both men and women wore gold jewelry and crosses. Crowns and scepters were also sometimes included.

17th to 19th centuries

As fashions changed, velvet robes gave way to more modern dress styles in the 17th to 19th centuries:

  • King Charles II wore knee breeches and a waistcoat for his 1685 burial.
  • Queen Anne was buried in royal regalia including robes, crown, scepter and jewelry in 1714.
  • King George III wore a military-style uniform and several medals when buried in 1820.
  • Queen Victoria wore her wedding veil along with a white dress and her jewelry for her 1901 burial.

The special burial clothes maintained royal traditions while adapting to more modern tastes.

20th century to today

In more recent times, British royals have favored simpler styles for burials:

  • King George VI wore military medals and the Order of the Garter sash over a suits for his 1952 burial.
  • The Queen Mother Elizabeth wore her wedding tiara plus a pearl necklace over a pale blue dress for her 2002 burial.
  • Princess Diana was buried in 1997 in a classic black dress, rosary beads, and an heirloom ring.

While still elegant, these 20th and 21st century burial outfits avoid overly lavish robes and regalia.

Royal burial wear in other cultures

Like the British royals, nobles from other parts of the world dressed in fine clothes and jewels for their burials:


Asian rulers followed local religious and cultural traditions while incorporating royal grandeur:

  • Chinese emperors were buried in opulent silk dragon robes with jade jewelry.
  • Indian maharajas were cremated wearing gold embroidered robes according to Hindu custom.
  • Japanese emperors wore a style of kimono called jūnihitoe with 12 layers and elegant embroidery.


African kings were often buried in colorful, patterned robes along with precious metals and stones:

  • The medieval Mali Empire kings wore flowing gold-embroidered robes and gold crowns.
  • Zulu kings were buried in leopardskin robes and ornate beadwork headdresses.
  • Ancient Nubian queens wore golden jewelry, headdresses, and elaborate dresses.

Ancient Egypt

As god-kings, the ancient Egyptian pharaohs took lavish burial wear to the extreme. Highlights include:

  • Intricate masks made of gold, lapis lazuli, obsidian and other precious materials.
  • Jewelry like pectoral necklaces, rings, bracelets made of gold and gems.
  • Specially made linen clothes embroidered with gold.
  • Tutankhamun was buried with over 100 pieces of opulent jewelry and clothing.

This ensured a luxurious afterlife.

Royal burial attire traditions

Across different times and cultures, common traditions emerge for royal burial clothes:

Special robes and dresses

Most royal burials involve some type of ceremonial robe, dress, or outfit specifically made for the occasion. These are often in the person’s local dress style but using expensive materials like silk or velvet and embellished with embroidery, patterns or jewels.

Jewelry and accessories

Rings, necklaces, crowns, scepters and other precious accessories adorn royal burials around the world. These items display the monarch’s wealth and continue their regal image into the afterlife. Women are often buried wearing their fine jewelry and wedding rings.

Inclusion of royal symbols

Royal coats of arms, cyphers, seals and other regal symbols are incorporated into burial clothes through embroidery, patterns or accessories. This identifies the royal lineage.

Burial shoes

Shoes or sandals made of velvet, silk or leather complete a royal’s burial outfit. British kings were buried in velvet slippers into the 19th century.

Adapting to modern styles

While rooted in tradition, royal burial fashions evolve over time to reflect contemporary dress styles. Robes gave way to military uniforms or simple suits for men, and gowns became more modern looking for royal women.

Notable examples of lavish royal burial clothes

Some of the most famously opulent royal burial wardrobes through history include:

Tutankhamun’s golden burial mask

The famous ancient Egyptian pharaoh King Tutankhamun was buried around 1323 BCE with a solid gold death mask weighing over 20 pounds. Inlaid with lapis lazuli and other gems, it was placed over the head and shoulders.

Philip the Good’s regal robes

Philip the Good, Duke of Burgundy in the 15th century, wore velvet robes embroidered with 40 enameled gold figurines of saints for his extravagant 1467 burial.

Queen Victoria’s wedding veil

Breaking with the tradition of ceremonial robes, Queen Victoria was buried in her white wedding veil when she died in 1901 after 64 years on the throne.

King Tutankhamun’s bejeweled collar

Along with his famous mask, Tutankhamun wore an elaborate pectoral collar made of solid gold, lapis lazuli, colored glass and other stones around his neck.

Ming dynasty dragon robes

Chinese Ming dynasty emperors were buried in silk dragon robes with dragon motifs made of couched gold thread and gemstones.

King Louis XIV’s gilt crown

France’s King Louis XIV, who died in 1715, wore a gilded crown inset with diamonds, sapphires and pearls when he was buried at the Basilica of Saint Denis.

Purpose and symbolism of lavish royal burial clothes

The clothing worn by royals in burial serve both practical and symbolic purposes:

Display power and status

The opulent materials and fine craftsmanship convey the monarch’s wealth and high rank, maintaining this image in death.

Reflect divine right

In many cultures, elaborate burial clothes reinforce the idea of the monarch’s divine right to rule. This extends into the afterlife.

Aid journey to afterlife

Some traditions believe material goods will serve royals in the next world. Clothes may represent offerings to gods or the deceased’s style in the afterlife.

Protect the body

Fine fabrics and jewelry physically protect and cover the deceased’s body in the tomb or casket.

Link to successors

Passing down burial jewelry and other regalia to future generations helps cement a royal bloodline.

Honor legacy

Lavish burial clothes allow successors to honor and memorialize the monarch by dressing them in a manner that reflects their life and rule.

How are royal burial clothes designed and crafted?

Extremely skilled artisans meticulously design and produce royal burial attire. Here’s an overview of the detailed process:

Consult protocols and traditions

Royal dressmakers study protocols guiding materials, styles, symbols and gems for the specific culture and time period. They incorporate traditional motifs and design elements.

Choose quality materials

Fabrics like silk, satin and velvet are selected for their luxurious sheen and feel. Metallic threads, fine lace and rich embroidery add regal embellishment.

Custom fit the outfit

Measurements are taken to tailor and custom fit the burial outfit specifically to the monarch’s body shape so it flatters their figure.

Hand crafting with quality

No machine shortcuts here – everything is meticulously cut, stitched, embroidered and embellished by hand for fine results.

Design jewelry and accessories

Gem setters design rings, scepters, crowns and other accessories to match the overall ensemble using precious metals, stones and insignia.

Use symbolic elements

Heraldic badges, cyphers, monograms and other regal symbols are incorporated through precise embroidery, beading, engraving or setting into jewelry.

Finishing touches

The final outfit is inspected, pressed and adjusted for impeccable presentation befitting a monarch’s sendoff.

Controversies surrounding royal burial attire

The lavish clothes and jewels buried with monarchs has caused some controversies over the years:

Grave robbing

Thieves have looted royal tombs throughout history to steal buried treasure including clothing and jewelry. King Tut’s tomb was a rare intact find.

Extravagant waste

Some criticize extremely pricey burial attire as a waste of resources that could have helped the needy while alive. However, the ceremonial symbolism carries great cultural importance.

Repatriation disputes

Museums fight to retain royal artifacts that originated from tombs and graves in other countries. Repatriation efforts continue to return jewelry, masks and clothing.

Desecration and destruction

Political and religious shifts have led to tombs being opened and burial goods damaged or destroyed as acts of desecration.

Questionable collecting practices

Collector demand has encouraged looting of royal graves in the past to supply antiquities to Western museums and private buyers. Standards have improved over time.

Key takeaways on royal burial attire

Some of the main points to remember:

  • Royal burial clothes often involve lavish fabrics, embroidery, and jewels.
  • British royals favor special ceremonial robes or modern dress suits.
  • Ancient Egyptian pharaohs set the standard for opulent gold jewelry and masks.
  • Fine materials and craftsmanship convey status, power and divinity after death.
  • Burial clothes follow religious and cultural traditions of the time and place.
  • Controversies include grave robbing, extravagance, repatriation disputes and destruction.

The tradition continues today with fine designers crafting special garments to lay modern royals like Queen Elizabeth to rest in style.

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