George II and Caroline
George II was the only son of George I and Sophia and was born at Herrenhausen in Hanover, Germany, on 30th October 1683. In 1705 he was naturalized an English subject and succeeded his father as king in 1727. George gained the distinction of being the last English king to lead his troops in a battle, against the French at Dettingen in Bavaria. His reign is remembered for victories in Canada, the Jacobite rebellion and the establishment of British interests in India. He continued his father's patronage of music.
In 1705 he married Caroline of Brandenburg-Ansbach. They had four sons and five daughters, most of whom died young. Their eldest son Frederick Louis, Prince of Wales, was born in January 1707. He was a great patron of the arts but was despised by his family. By his wife Augusta he was father of George III. He died suddenly in March 1751 and was buried with his mother in the Hanoverian vault. His wife was buried with him, as were their children Elizabeth Caroline, Frederick William, Edward Augustus , Louisa Anne and Henry Frederick.
They were crowned in the Abbey on 11th October 1727. The queen's dress was so encrusted with jewels that a pulley had to be devised in order to lift the skirt so she could kneel down at various points in the ceremony
George II died at Kensington Palace on 25th October 1760. He was buried in the vault he had newly constructed for Caroline's burial under the central aisle of the Lady Chapel on 11th November in a large marble sarcophagus, with his coffin next to Caroline. By his wish the sides of the coffins were removed so their dust could mingle after death. No monument was erected and only small stones on the floor above the vault mark their graves and those of the family. He was the last monarch to be buried in the Abbey as succeeding sovereigns were buried at Windsor.
Caroline was born on 11th March 1683, a daughter of John, Margrave of Brandenberg-Ansbach. She played a large role in affairs of State and the king was distraught when she died after primitive surgery at St James' Palace on 1st December 1737 (New Style dating). She was buried on 17 December. Handel composed his anthem The ways of Zion do mourn for the funeral. Although the King attended a service for her at St James's Palace he did not attend the main funeral and Princess Amelia was chief mourner. The coffin entered via the north door (which was unusual), after the procession from the Palace of Westminster where she had lain in state. It seems to be the first royal funeral where special seats were built inside the church for nobility to see the procession.
A wooden model of the Hanoverian vault can be seen in the new Jubilee Galleries in the Abbey triforium.
George II by A.C. Thompson, 2011
King George II and Queen Caroline by John van der Kiste, 1997
Queen Caroline by J. Marschner
Oxford Dictionary of National Biography 2004
British royal...funerals, music and ceremonial since Elizabeth I, by M. Range 2016
Papers about the funerals are at the College of Arms in London which include an illustration of Caroline's funeral procession
See also the London Gazette for George's funeral
The ceremonial proceeding to a private interment of Her Late Majesty Queen Caroline..., published 1737
25th October 1760
11th November 1760
11th October 1727
11th November 1760
The Trustees of the Goodwood Collection / Bridgeman Images
This image can be purchased from Westminster Abbey Library
Image © 2018 Dean and Chapter of Westminster