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John Thompson died in 1894, only two years after becoming prime minister. His shocking death, as a result of a sudden stroke at Windsor Castle, challenged royal protocol. Queen Victoria insisted Thompson be returned to Canada with due pomp and ceremony. A requiem mass was held at Windsor and the HMS Blenheim was painted black to transport Thompson's coffin to Halifax, where his funeral took place on January 3, 1895.
Canadian artist Frederick Bell-Smith witnessed the arrival of the Blenheim and was inspired to paint three scenes concerning the death of Thompson. One, The Arrival of the Blenheim, was destroyed in the House of Commons fire of 1916. The other two, The State Funeral and The Queen's Tribute, have been restored by the National Archives.