There seems to be some distaste in the literary community for this decision that Fortinbras makes. Hamlet wasn’t a soldier, they say! He even had a whole speech about how senseless the war Fortinbras was pursuing was! This is irony!
I’m guessing these folks have never been to a soldier’s funeral. I might have said the same before I went to my grandfather’s military funeral. Now, though, I understand what an honor it would be – solider or not. I’ve been a pacifist my whole life but if someone told me they were going to bury me at Arlington National Cemetery with any of the honors, I’d be pretty thrilled.
Military funerals are so good they make you want to join the military just so you can have one when you die.
Fortinbras is giving Hamlet all the honors. Why is not clear. Why he’s picked him out among the dead people for this particular honor is not obvious. The only explanation he provides is that Hamlet would have been most royal given half a chance.
I suspect it is more to do with Fortinbras seeing himself in Hamlet the same way Hamlet saw himself in Fortinbras earlier in the play. They are peers in a peerage. There aren’t a lot of them. They probably feel a need to stick together some.