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Henry Frederick, Prince of Wales

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 19th 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 6th November 1612.

His body lay in state for a month at St James' Palace until his funeral at Westminster Abbey on 7th 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 carved wooden head, said to be that from the effigy, was presented to the Abbey in 1986 and is on display with the wooden figure in The Queen's Diamond Jubilee Galleries at the Abbey.

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

Born

19th February 1594

Died

6th November 1612

Buried

7th December 1612

Location

Lady Chapel

Memorial Type

Vault

Drawing of elaborate hearse (canopy) constructed for Henry Frederick, Prince of Wales' funeral
Henry's funeral hearse

This image can be purchased from Westminster Abbey Library

Image © 2019 Dean and Chapter of Westminster

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Kevin - Galleries Project Manager

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