Here lie interred the mortal remains of
Richard Honey, Carpenter,
aged 36 years, and of
George Francis, Bricklayer, aged 43 years,
who were slain on the 14th August, 1821, while attending the
funeral of Caroline, of Brunswick,
Queen of England
The details of that melancholy event
Belong to the history of the country
In which they will be recorded
Together with the public opinion
Decidedly expressed relative to the
Of that disastrous day
Deeply impressed with their fate
Unmerited and unavenged
Their respective trades interred them
At their general expence
On the 24th of the same month
to their memory.
Richard Honey left one female orphan.
George Francis left a widow and three young children.
Victims like these have fallen in every age
Stretch of pow'r or party's cruel rage
Until even handed justice comes at last
To amend the future and avenge the past
Their friends and fellow-men lament their doom
Protect their orphans, and erect their tomb.
“Harris I am not well, pray get me a glass of brandy,” were George IV’s first words at being presented to his future bride, the German princess Caroline of Brunswick. Lord Malmesbury introduced the pair and later described what had happened. Caroline had knelt before the then Prince of Wales who raised her to her feet and embraced her before wordlessly retreating out of earshot and begging the footman to fetch him a brandy. Apparently equally unimpressed Caroline turned to Malmesbury and speaking in French told him that the prince was rather fat.
|Queen Caroline in 1820|
|Queen Caroline's funeral procession|
Three weeks later Caroline, at the age of 53, was dead. Inevitably there was speculation that she had been killed on her husband’s orders. It had been Caroline’s wish to be buried in Brunswick (beneath a tombstone with the epitaph ’Here lies Caroline, the injured Queen of England’) and on 14 August her funeral cortege set off from Brandenburgh House in Hammersmith to transport her coffin to Harwich. The authorities, mindful of public reaction, wished to travel north of London avoiding the city and any potential trouble but huge crowds took to the streets and barricaded all available routes north, forcing the funeral cortege through Westminster. In heavy rain the procession reached Hyde Park where the soldiers of the Royal Guard tried to repeatedly force a way northwards through an increasingly belligerent crowd. Stones and clods of mud were hurled at the soldiers. A magistrate sanctioned them to use force and fifty shots were fired from pistols and carbines into the crowd. Two men died, George Francis a bricklayer at the scene and Richard Honey a carpenter a few hours later. At their inquest the jury returned a verdict of “wilful murder against a life guardsman unknown,” in the case of Francis and manslaughter for Honey. No one was ever prosecuted.
|George Cruikshank's caricuture of the death of Honey & Francis|