I learned a new word this week – catafalque.
In all my (almost) 59 years on this planet it’s never occurred to me to wonder what is the proper name of the thing-the-coffin-sits-on during a funeral service or a lying in state. And this week I found out I found out by watching TV as the Queen’s coffin was borne into St Giles cathedral in Edinburgh and laid on a beautiful light Scottish oak catafalque.
There was something so deeply dignified in the beautifully carved but bare wooden stand, the Queen’s coffin draped with the Scottish version of the Royal Standard, adorned with a gorgeous wreath of white flowers and all of it crowned so reverently with the Honours of Scotland – the ancient crown of James VI of Scotland, who later became James I of England.
Through the Queen’s final journey from her summer home at Balmoral to the Palace of Holyrood in Edinburgh, from there to St Giles Cathedral, and then on to Edinburgh airport for her last ever flight, I’m just so proud that due to the time and place of her death, everyday Scottish people too were able to pay their respects in person, to a beloved monarch on their home soil.
I know the Queen has returned to London now and will remain lying in state in the traditional historic splendour of Westminster Hall until her funeral next Monday, but I remain quietly grateful that the people of Scotland have so solemnly and dutifully played their part in the formal, national process of laying our beloved monarch to rest.
And now I know what a catafalque is… 🙂