Should Young Children Go To Funerals?

There's no right or answer, but here are some points to consider

Children and funerals

by Maria Lally |
Updated on

Prince George and Princess Charlotte walked behind their great-grandmother's coffin at her funeral on Monday 19th September. Buckingham Palace announced the news the night before the funeral, that Prince George, nine, and Princess Charlotte, seven, would join the procession at the start of the service. On the day they walked alongside their parents, the new Prince and Princess of Wales, who were said to have thought 'very carefully' in the days leading up to the funeral about whether to involve their two eldest children.

Princes William and Harry followed behind their late grandmother’s coffin as it travelled through the streets of London to Westminster Hall on September 14th, which Prince George and Princess Charlotte didn't attend.

Back in April only George and Charlotte attended the memorial for Prince Philip at Westminster Abbey, with 4-year-old Louis staying at home. Harry and Meghan’s children, 3-year-old Prince Archie and 1-year-old Princess Lilibet, didn't attend the funeral, and neither did Prince Louis.

So, royal or otherwise, should young children go to funerals? ‘When deciding if a young child in your family should come to a funeral, the most important thing to consider is – does the child or young person want to go?,’ says a spokesperson from Cruse, the bereavement charity. ‘Going to a funeral can help children understand the finality of death. Saying goodbye with family and friends may help them process their grief.

‘There are some things you can do before the funeral to help prepare your child. By letting them know what to expect, it can help ease any anxiety they may feel. You should explain what the funeral is for and what will happen, whilst also letting them know that there are no set feelings they should have during the ceremony.

‘You may want to ask someone you both trust to help during the ceremony. They can explain to them what is happening, and take them out if they want to leave. But also let them know that they can change their mind, even at the last minute.’

Prince William, who was 15 and Harry 12 when their walked behind their mother, the late Princess of Wales’s, coffin has said of that moment: ‘It was one of the hardest things I have ever done. But if I had been in floods of tears the entire way round how would that have looked? I am a very private person, and it was not easy. There was a lot of noise, a lot of crying, a lot of wailing, people were throwing stuff, people were fainting.’

Prince Harry, meanwhile, told an interviewer: ‘My mother had just died, and I had to walk a long way behind her coffin, surrounded by thousands of people watching me while millions more did on television. I don’t think any child should be asked to do that, under any circumstances. I don’t think it would happen today.’

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