Funerals are generally seen as quiet and peaceful ceremonies to celebrate the life of the deceased. However some choose to shun the traditional funeral to have their own final say. From insisting on brightly coloured clothes, to arriving at their burial place in horse and carriage, people have different ways of snubbing run-of-the-mill funerals. This is often the case for those with a bit more money and recognition than the average person, with extravagant funerals taking place to match their lifestyles. These are the top 5 most extravagant funerals.
No talk of extravagant funerals is complete without a mention of the King of Pop. When he died aged 50 in 2009, devastated fans could take heart in knowing that Michael Jackson would have planned a funeral like no other – and he didn’t disappoint. Although his burial was a private affair, he had a memorial service broadcast worldwide – featuring performances from Mariah Carey and Stevie Wonder. The King of Pop was buried in a casket worth $25,000, wearing clothes worth $35,000. Other bills for things such as security & flowers meant the final total tipped $1.4million.
As with Michael Jackson, Princess Di’s name is on many lips when extravagant funerals are mentioned. Princess Diana died in a car crash in Paris in August 1997, aged 36. Her death left a nation devastated and a world in shock, and also paved way for the biggest funeral the UK had ever seen. Costing around £5million, it is best remembered for the 4 mile procession from Westminster Abbey to Kensington Palace – a journey that her ex-husband, Prince Charles, and sons William & Harry took part in. It is thought to have been watched by around 2.5 billion people – half the population of the planet at the time.
It may not have had a big an audience as Diana’s, but ex-US President Ronal Reagan’s funeral was certainly a lot more expensive. The cost of a federal holiday and the closing down of Wall Street to coincide with the funeral meant the final bill was around $400million. Although since then it has been suggested the cost of security, media attendance and the funeral itself may mean the bill was nearer to $1billion.
The King’s premature death aged 42 led to another ‘King’ sized funeral. A 64 stone copper coffin and 17 white limousines were just 2 of many extortionate items that made up the funeral. The final bill is unknown, but Elvis’ funeral certainly goes down as one of the most extravagant. 80,000 turned out to the procession along Forest Hill Cemetery to pay their last respects to the King of Rock and Roll.
Alexander the Great
Although nobody alive today can provide a witness account, Alexander’s funeral goes down as the most expensive of all time. His coffin had Russian-doll characteristics – 3 gold coffins, one inside the other. He was transported by a gold carriage and even had a gold headstone, until it was stolen. All this gold meant that his funeral cost the equivalent of $600million (£385million) in today’s money.
Image courtesy of Maxwell Hamilton