What lying in state means and other important people who went through the process

By admin
13 December 2013

What does it mean to lie in state and have other presidents done it? We take a closer look

Former president Nelson Mandela is lying in state and members of the puplic can go and pay their last respects before he’s buried. Although lying in state is relatively unknown to South Africans, it’s something that has been done for years in other countries.

It’s essentially an opportunity for members of the public to view the body of a person of great importance, usually in an important government building.

A number of American presidents lay in state, including:

Abraham Lincoln (19 – 20 April, 1865) He was America’s president from 4 March 1861 until his death.


John F Kennedy (24 – 25 November, 1963) He was America’s president from 10 January 1961 until he was assassinated in Dallas, Texas.

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Herbert Hoover (23 – 25 October, 1964) He was president from 4 March 1929 until 3 March 1933. He died of an internal haemorrhage after a growth was removed from his stomach.


Ronald Reagan (9 – 11 June 2004) He was America’s president from 20 January 1981 until 20 January 1989. He died in his house in Bel Air, California, after suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease for about 10 years.


In South Africa Madiba is the first democratic president to lie in state. Political activist and ANC icon Walter Sisulu also lay in state and was given a state funeral.


Eva Peron, who was known as the spiritual leader of Argentina, died of cancer at the age of 33. She was buried 24 years later.


Mother Teresa lay in state in Calcutta, India, for a week before being buried.


Then there are extreme cases such as Vietnamese president Ho Chi Minh, who has lain in state since 1969 and is marketed as a tourist attraction.

Interestingly enough, Princess Diana, who died in a car crash in 1997, didn’t lie in state.

- Marelize Potgieter

Sources: history.howstuffworks.com; trutv.com; python.net; aoc.gov; wikipedia,org; findadeath.com

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