Recently several news stories have mentioned that Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, is the second queen consort to lie in state. Who was the first? I say it was Jane Seymour, the consort who gave Henry VIII a son, then promptly croaked from puerperal fever. My mother says it was queen Adelaide, consort of William IV. Mom says a city and a wine were named fore Adelaide, so she must have been popular. She further suggests that Jane Seymour was too early for embalming fluid. I say the 1530s were stinky times anyway, so people didn't notice dead body odor. Who's right?
-- Jenna, homesick in Miami
Way too much fancy thinking going on in your house. Nobody's right. Not even the quote is complete. (Must be that danged humidity, Jenna.) The Queen Mum was the second consort to lie in state...in Westminster Hall. Westminster may be 1000 years old, but the Brits have been laying out dead national icons there for only the last century: Prime Minister William Gladstone (1899); King George V (1936); King George the VI (1952); Queen Mary, wife of George V, our consort number one (1953); Winston Churchill (1965); then Elizabeth Angela Marguerite Bowes-Lyon, Queen Elizabeth, wife of George VI and consort number two (2002).
Adelaide, who did not lie in state, also had a hotel, a pub, and a rose named after her. She was sweet and generous and much loved, perhaps out of pity for having to marry William, who was a drunken, womanizing lout nicknamed Pineapple Head. Tell Mom that Jane Seymour was embalmed. Then she was laid out privately in her chamber in Hampton Court for two weeks. Her funeral procession to St. George's Chapel was lavish, and Henry was actually sad to see her go and mourned her passing. But mostly because she'd had the good sense to die while giving birth to a baby boy.