The Prince and the Pauper – Chapter Fourteen – Fun Fact

For many people living in the U.S., the idea of a funeral evokes a specific image in their minds. It usually involves attendees all in black and a somber tone. But does that image fit for cultures all around the world? Today our Fun Fact for Ch. 14 focuses on…


Keep reading or watch the video for an insight into colors worn during times of mourning around the world.

Reference in The Prince and the Pauper

“The room was filled with courtiers clothed in purple mantles—the mourning colour—and with noble servants of the monarch.” (p. 76)

This quote comes shortly after Henry VIII has passed away, so the people of the palace are wearing purple in order to mourn after his death. There is another mention of the color purple in this chapter as well, referring to Humphrey Marlow’s purple accessory.

Colors of Mourning


  • Guatemala – men and boys wear purple on Good Friday
  • Brazil – Catholics wear purple (alongside black); can be considered unlucky to wear purple if you aren’t attending a funeral
  • Thailand – defines sorrow; widows wear while mourning their spouse (others wear black)


  • Strongly associated with death and loss in the west
  • Believed to date back to Roman times
  • Victorian England – Queen Victoria mourned the death of her husband (Prince Albert) for 40 years
  • This inspired other widows to wear black for 1-2 years after the death of their husbands
  • In some countries, women wear black for the rest of their lives


  • Australia (indigenous) – widows wear white mourning caps called ‘kopis’ made from plaster (1 week – 6 months)
  • Eastern Asia – white mourning clothes represent purity and rebirth
  • Cambodia (Buddhism) – family of someone who dies wear white in mourning
  • France – deuil blanc meaning “white mourning”


  • China – symbolizes happiness; forbidden at funerals
  • South Africa – red as a color of mourning (representing bloodshed in Apartheid era)
  • Ghana – commonly reserved for immediate family members (others wear black)


  • Ancient Egypt – associated with eternal life and the all-powerful god Ra (whose flesh was believed to be formed from gold)


  • Papua New Guinea – women apply light, stone-colored clay to their skin after their husband’s death
    • Also wear necklaces with loops of grey, grass seeds; remove one each day

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