|Louis XVIII in Coronation Robes by Robert Lefèvre, 1822|
As 1824 dawned, it was apparent to all those who knew Louis XVIII that the king was likely not long for this world. His weight had ballooned out of control and he suffered agonising pain from gangrene that had started in his foot and progressed into his spine, whilst his extremities were afflicted by painful gout. Barely conscious at times he struggled on nevertheless, battling his own deteriorating health in an effort to carry out his monarchical duties with some shred of dignity.
For long months Louis struggled on until, on 12th September, word was spread that theatres and business should close in expectation that the king was about to die. Still Louis would not accept his inevitable fate until Zoé Talon, comtesse du Cayla and the king's companion, prevailed upon him to receive the last rites. As the days drew on, a crowd of citizens gathered before the Tuileries to await word of their monarch's death whilst inside, courtiers and officials crowded into the king's private room where they were confronted by an almighty stench from the dying man's extensive gangrene.
Finally, mid-afternoon on 16th September 1824, Louis XVIII died. His exhausted, already partially rotted body was embalmed, dressed in fine garb and put on display. For a month the corpse of the king lay in state and before it was interred in the Basilica of St Denis, Louis XVIII's roaming finally at an end.
Life in the Georgian Court, true tales of 18th century royalty, is available at the links below.