Crowds await the Queen's coffin procession

The music played during the procession of the Queen’s coffin

The bands of the Scots Guards and Grenadier Guards played a variety of compositions during this afternoon’s procession of the Queen’s coffin from Buckingham Palace to Westminster Hall.

Many of the pieces played are regularly used at royal occasions and provide a link to past events and traditions.

Here is a list of the songs that were heard and why they are historically significant.  

  1. Beethoven’s Funeral March No 1

Beethoven’s Funeral March No 1 was the first song performed and is regularly used at royal occasions.

It is normally played at remembrance services and was last heard at the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral in April 2021, as well as in the processions to lying-in-state of King Edward VII and the Queen Mother.

The music reflects the tradition and history of the royal family.

It serves as an ode to Queen Elizabeth’s long-standing service to the commonwealth.

Despite being widely credited to Beethoven, this stately, mournful piece is now understood to have been composed by Heinrich Walch, a German musician and conductor.

2. Beethoven’s Funeral Marches No 2 and 3

These pieces are more sombre and tranquil.

Funeral March No 3 was also played at Prince Philip’s funeral at Windsor Castle.  

A full recording of Beethoven’s funeral marches cannot be found on streaming services.

This adds to the music’s power as it is only heard at moments of solemn ceremony.

3. Mendelssohn’s Funeral March

Mendelssohn’s music is often heard at British state and ceremonial occasions.

Queen Victoria, Elizabeth II’s great great grandmother, famously was an advocate for his Mendelssohn’s music.  

This composition is a grandiose piece that builds towards a dramatic climax.

4. Chopin’s Funeral March

Chopin’s funeral march comprises of the third movement of his Piano Sonata No 2.

This composition remains one of the Polish composer’s most popular pieces and was performed at Chopin’s own funeral in 1849.

It was also performed at the funerals of John F Kennedy, Sir Winston Churchill and Margaret Thatcher.

Featured image credit: Harry Dudman

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