Five of the most expensive funerals ever

Posted in: Finance Last updated: 04 Jul 2014

Last year, Margaret Thatcher’s funeral sparked outrage when it was predicted to have cost around £10 million. In the end, it came to about £3.6 million, but nevertheless, it was still a costly final farewell. Thatcher is not the only public figure to go down in history for having an elaborate memorial service though. We’ve dug around to find the highest priced funerals ever.

Michael Jackson

As the king of pop, no expense was spared for Michael Jackson’s funeral, which came with a price tag of over $1 million. An estimated 1.6 million fans entered an online lottery to win one of 17,500 tickets available to his memorial at L.A.’s Staples Center. The Jackson family splashed out on every aspect of the ceremony including $35,000 for his final resting clothes, $30,000 for cars and $25,000 on his solid bronze and gold plated casket.

Princess Diana

Britain has a tendency to go all out for the death of royals. Princess Diana’s funeral was a particularly pricey affair, costing around £5 million with a special guest performance from Elton John. The funeral consisted of a four mile procession, which brought her coffin to Westminster Abbey where family, celebrities and politicians awaited. Over a million people lined the route to watch her coffin go by.

John F Kennedy

John F Kennedy’s funeral comprised of his coffin being pulled on a carriage by six grey horses to St Matthew’s Cathedral in Washington, D.C. Leaders from across the world came to pay their last respects and the funeral itself cost approximately $4 million. Interestingly though, television stations were said to have lost out on around $40 million in revenue as a result of having to cancel their programmes and advertisements. If we include these costs, the grand total comes to $44 million.

Elvis Presley

The king of rock and roll’s funeral came to a total of $23,789. His 900 pound copper coffin was transported down Elvis Presley Boulevard followed by 17 white limousines. Tearful fans lined the route from his mansion to the cemetery where a final private ceremony was held in the mausoleum. It was a comparatively modest affair, though it was attended by stars such as James Brown and actor George Hamilton.

Alexander the Great

Famously known as the most expensive funeral of all time, Alexander the Great’s send-off is predicted to have cost a whopping $600 million in today’s money. How he died is a mystery, but what we do know is that he was fighting in Iraq when he kicked the bucket. This was problematic because he needed to be laid to rest in his ancestral burial grounds in Macadamia – one and a half thousand miles away. His body was placed in a gold casket and was transported on a golden chariot covered in precious stones. Archaeologists have speculated that it took two years to prepare the transfer.

The average funeral now costs over £3,000 [1], which seems like nothing in comparison to the ones above, but funeral costs have soared in recent years and only 18% of over 50s have made specific provision for funeral costs while a further 9% admit they have no idea what one costs to organise [2].

Putting some plans in place to pay for your funeral can help to shield family members from being saddled with debt. There are a number of avenues you can explore when it comes to making arrangements. An over 50s life insurance plan is just one way you can help towards the costs.

1 Engage (May, 2014), “The Engage Mutual 2014 Funeral Costs Tracker Report” [online]. Available from www.engageadvisor.com.
2 Mintel (May 20120, “Whole of Life Insurance” [online]. Available from www.oxygen.mintel.com

Note: Whilst we take care to ensure Hub content is accurate at the time of publication, individual circumstances can differ so please don’t rely on it when making financial decisions. OneFamily do not provide advice so it may be worth speaking to an independent financial advisor about your own circumstances.