Along the same vein as our previous ‘Lavish Burials’ post, which honored the 1922 discovery of the Egyptian king’s tomb, we’re celebrating King Tut Day today by taking a look at a new set of extravagant burials that’d blow your minds (and your bank accounts).
Alexander the Great
On his deathbed in 323 BC, Macedon King Alexander the Great claimed to have foreseen a great commotion over his funeral…and by looking at what actually transpired, you could say that was an understatment. Some stories say Alexander’s body was encased in glass and preserved in layers of honey, while others say his body was placed into a solid gold sarcophagus, which was then covered by a solid gold casket.
To top off the exponentially expensive funeral, which by today’s standards amounts to a whopping $600 million dollars, the military mastermind’s remains traveled from Babylon to Macedon in a 60 horse-drawn golden carriage on a newly constructed road designed specifically for the occasion.
A couple days after Louis Armstrong died in his sleep on July 6, 1971, in New York, twenty-five thousand mourners waited in line for the public viewing at the Seventh Regiment Armory to say farewell to one of the greatest jazz musicians of all time.
Entombed in a velvet-lined, steel grey coffin, Armstrong lay under a grand staircase in the armory and was dressed in a blue suit, pink shirt, and striped tie. His body was surrounded by bouquets, and among the 500 guests invited to his private service were distinguished musicians like Ella Fitzgerald and Dizzy Gillespie, along with politicians like Governor Nelson Rockefeller and Mayor John Lindsay.
His service was televised with additional segments that paid tribute to his musical legacy. A couple years after his death, a black granite tombstone was erected with Armstrong’s name etched in gold. A reproduction of his trumpet lay on top.
When Princess Diana died in a tragic car crash on August 31, 1997, her funeral brought on an international mourning of staggering proportions. Over 2.5 billion people around the world watched the Princess of Wales’ casket being taken along by gun carriage in a four-mile procession from Kensington Palace to Westminster Abbey. The union jack at Buckingham Palace was placed at half mast—the first time in its history.
Along with a never-ending sea of bouquets, cards, and gifts left at the foot of Kensington Palace and at the gates of Westminster Abbey, Diana’s family members honored her with moving tributes, and Elton John sang a new version of “Candle in the Wind.” Her funeral was rumored to have cost $5 million pounds (about $8 million U.S. dollars).
When the Godfather of Soul died on Christmas Day in 2006, he exited in a manner as ostentatious as his persona. Dressed in a red shirt, black jacket, gloves, and sequined shoes,’The Hardest Working Man in Show Business’ had three memorial services in NYC, South Carolina, and Georgia. The event was dubbed his ‘Farewell Tour’.
During his first viewing at the Apollo Theater, Brown was paraded down the streets of New York in a glass horse-drawn carriage, his body encased in a bronze Prometheus casket. With an infinite list of celebrities and thousands of fans in attendance at his memorials, he was given wardrobe changes, and guests were presented with videos of his greatest performances. At his final service in Augusta, Ga, Brown’s procession made stops at his statue before finding its way to the James Brown Arena, where his last backup band, The Generals, played his greatest hits live, MC Hammer performed Brown’s signature moves, and Michael Jackson made a surprise appearance to say goodbye to his “greatest inspiration.”