Henry Frederick, Prince of Wales
Born: 19 Feb, 1594
Died: 06 Nov, 1612
Location in the Abbey: Lady chapel
Type of memorial: Vault

Henry Frederick, Prince of Wales, was the eldest son of James VI of Scotland (later James I of England) and his queen Anne of Denmark. He was born at Stirling Castle on 19 February 1594. He was thought to have great promise as a Prince although he had violent anti-Catholic opinions. Accomplished in sports he was also a patron of the arts and an avid collector. In 1610 he was created Prince of Wales. But he died suddenly, probably due to typhoid fever, on 6 November 1612.

His body lay in state for a month at St James' Palace until his funeral at Westminster Abbey on 7 December (parallel funerals were also held in Oxford, Cambridge and Bristol). Two thousand mourners attended in the procession accompanied by the music of fifes and drums and people of all ages lined the streets. Archbishop Abbott gave the funeral sermon. A magnificent hearse was erected on which was placed his richly clothed funeral effigy. The robes were those worn by the Prince at his creation as Princes of Wales in 1610. This effigy was made by Richard Norris with the plaster face modelled by Abraham Van der Doort. Unfortunately only the wooden frame of the effigy now remains. The robes had been stolen as early as 1616 and the head had gone by 1872. This is the earliest surviving effigy in England of anyone other than a king or queen.

He was buried in the vault of his grandmother Mary Queen of Scots in the south aisle of Henry VII's chapel. Lack of a monument for him in the Abbey was much commented on at the time. Probably lack of space in the chapel was a reason. In the later 19th century Dean Stanley inspected this vault and found his coffin. This was roughly moulded into a human form and the lead of the head had rough features. The legs and arms were indicated and on his chest was soldered a lead case, most likely containing his heart. Below were his initials, Prince of Wales feathers and date of death. The Dean inscribed his name, and those of others buried in this vault, on a stone above, between the monuments of Mary Queen of Scots and the Countess of Lennox.

A photo of the vault stone, hearse engraving and remains of the effigy can be purchased from Westminster Abbey Library.

A carved wooden head, said to be that from the effigy, was presented to the Abbey in 1986 and will be on display with the figure in the new Jubilee Galleries at the Abbey, due to open in 2018.

Further reading:

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography 2004

The Theatre of Death by Jennifer Woodward, 1997 (about his funeral)

The Funeral Effigies of Westminster Abbey edited by R.Mortimer & A.Harvey, revised 2003

British Royal and State funerals.... by M.Range, 2016

The funeral of the high and mighty Prince Henry.... (anon). 1613

The Lost Prince. The life and death of Henry Stuart by Catherine MacLeod, National Portrait Gallery exhibition 2012.

The Prince who would be King by S.Fraser, 2017

Papers concerning his funeral are at the National Archives.

© 2017 The Dean and Chapter of Westminster

Website design - Design by Structure