King's College London
Exhibitions & Conferences
The Duke of Wellington

Death of a statesman

Chantrey's statue of WellingtonChantrey's statue of WellingtonWellington was invited to form a ministry in 1834 when Earl Grey's government fell, but the Duke refused, serving only as a caretaker before the arrival of Peel as Prime Minister.

During the next decade or more although he remained in the thick of political action serving at one time as Leader of the Lords, Commander in Chief and as Chancellor of Oxford University, he was no longer in the driving seat.

Instead, he assumed the role of elder statesman, never quite managing to retire.

Whilst at Walmer Castle, his residence as Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports, he died peacefully in September 1852.

Wellington's funeral

Fittingly, the Duke lay in state in Chelsea Hospital for two days, during which thousands of mourners including the Queen paid their respects.

The funeral carThe funeral carHis funeral took place on 18 November when the funeral processed from Horse Guards to St Paul's, Wellington's remains borne in a huge funeral carriage weighing over 18 tons, and that is now on public display at Stratfield Saye.

Passing Apsley HousePassing Apsley HouseAlong the route, the Duke passed King's College for one last time.

College authorities had to erect viewing stands to accommodate the numbers of students and staff determined to pay their respects.

Funeral in St Paul'sFuneral in St Paul'sAt least a million other men and women lined the route to express their sorrow and represent a nation in mourning: not only in remembrance of his military triumphs, many rewards and honours, but also in recognition of the sheer length of his service to the country.

His longevity undoubtedly conferred upon him the status of a father figure, a certain and reliable fixture in the national story, and perhaps in his passing they glimpsed the immanence of their own mortality.

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