It’s something we’ve all wondered. Queen Elizabeth II has been dead for eight days, and her funeral, which will take place on Monday, will be a full 11 days since her death.
Before Queen Elizabeth’s body was taken to her final resting place, St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle, she toured Britain and is now on a popular pilgrimage.
So the question that most of us have is how the body of Queen Elizabeth is preserved for so many days, given that the decomposition of the human body begins about two days after death.
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“For this reason the body must be prepared accordingly: especially if you consider that the putrefaction of the human body starts about one to two days after death” writes the German network n-tv.
How do we stop the natural process of decay
Both the RTL network and the Redaktionsnetzwerk Deutschland (RND) have interviewed experts who provide information on possible methods of preserving the body.
The spokesman for the association of Funeral Directors of Lower Saxony, Markus Gebauer, explains to RND: “To inhibit the natural process of decomposition, bodily fluids are exchanged for formaldehyde and other chemicals.”
This is a type of embalming, which can last from two to six hours depending on the condition of the body. In this way, the corpse of the deceased can be kept in good condition for two to three months.
Speaking to RTL, certified embalmer Philipp Berger explains: “We take care of the preservation of the dead. This includes temporarily stopping the body’s decomposition so that burial or an open casket farewell can take place later.”
He also adds that embalming can be repeated at regular intervals. “The best example of this is Lenin’s body in Moscow. Experts submit his body to an embalming process with special injections every 12 months. Depending on the procedure, embalming can be enough for a year,” says Berger. The embalmed body of the Russian Bolshevik leader, who died in January 1924, lies in the mausoleum on Red Square in Moscow.
The script for the coffin to be empty
Whether the body of the late Queen Elizabeth II underwent such a procedure is speculation and no explanation is expected from the palace. Some do not even rule out that the coffin is empty.
The Association of Funeral Homes of Lower Saxony, however, considers embalming very likely. The “Bild” newspaper also claims that the body is preserved with special cooling plates until the burial.
In addition, the Queen’s coffin can be transported in a refrigerated hearse. “Many hearses have separate cooling, which can be activated especially for long-distance transports,” explains Gebauer.