Of course in writing about politicians who tried to delay their own funerals, I was thinking of Australians. In actual fact it's pretty hard for an Australian politician to delay their own demise, what with free and fair elections and all.
But how could I have ignored the world's best practice examples of the art from other countries? Of course we've recently seen Hosni Mubarak deposed, a fading old man trying to hang on for another six months against the will of the people. But I find myself wondering - how did the army commanders, who kept him in place for the past 30 years, suddenly become the heroes of democracy by deposing him and dissolving the parliament? The king is dead, long live...?
Others seem more able to escape. Somehow Robert Mugabe, despite being even older than Mubarak and having caused economic collapse and widespread starvation in one of the most fertile countries in Africa, is still hanging onto the reins of power in Zimbabwe and even plotting to dispose of his recent power-share partner Morgan Tvangirai. Could it be that Mugabe has discovered the fountain of youth and will literally live forever?
But apart from people like the British royal family, who retained their hereditary position by allowing themselves to become irrelevant, surely the grand prize goes to the late North Korean dictator Kim Il Sung. Technically Kim Il Sung has been dead since 1994 with his son Kim Jong Il minding the family business and preparing to hand over to grandson Kim Jong Un. However, in 1998 Grandfather Kim was named "Eternal President" and the post of actual president was abolished. So despite the outrageous laments of the people at his death, he appears to have skipped the subsequent funeral and presumably will rule forever.