Queen Elizabeth II’s coffin makes a somber journey through Scotland
Edinburgh, Scotland — In a somber royal procession,The flag-draped coffin was driven slowly through the Scottish countryside from her beloved Balmoral Castle to the Scottish capital of Edinburgh on Sunday. Mourners filled streets and highway bridges or lined country roads with cars and tractors to attend a historic farewell to the monarch who had reigned for 70 years.
The hearse passed piles of bouquets and other tributes as it led a seven-car funeral procession from Balmoral, where the Queen died on Thursday aged 96, to a six-hour journey through Scottish cities to Edinburgh’s Holyroodhouse Palace. The late Queen’s coffin was draped with the Royal Standard for Scotland and crowned with a wreath of flowers from the estate, including sweet peas, one of the Queen’s favourites.
The Queen’s coffin took a detour back to the capital. After flying to London on Tuesday, the coffin will be taken from Buckingham Palace to the Houses of Parliament on Wednesday to rest pending a state funeral at Westminster Abbey on September 19. The White House said Sunday that President Biden has officially accepted an invitation to attend the funeral, and he will be accompanied by First Lady Jill Biden.
The procession was a major event for Scotland as the UK takes days to mourn its longest-reigning monarch, the only one most Britons have ever known. People came hours early to get a seat at the police barricades in Edinburgh. In the afternoon, the crowd was as low as 10 people in places.
“I think she was an eternal constant in my life. She was the queen I was born under and she was always there,” said Angus Ruthven, a 54-year-old Edinburgh civil servant. “I think it’s going to take a lot of adjustment that she’s not here. It’s a pretty sudden thing.”
Silence fell on the crowded Royal Mile in Edinburgh as the Queen’s hearse arrived. But as the convoy disappeared from view, the crowd spontaneously started clapping.
As the hearse reached Holyroodhouse, members of the Royal Regiment of Scotland in green checked kilts carried the coffin past the Queen’s youngest three children – Princess Anne, Prince Andrew and Prince Edward – and into the throne room, where it was to remain until Monday afternoon, so that the employees can pay their last respects.
King Charles III and his Queen Camilla will travel to Edinburgh on Monday to join another celebratory procession taking the Queen’s coffin to St Giles Cathedral on the city’s Royal Mile. The coffin will remain there for 24 hours to allow the Scottish public to pay their respects before being flown to London on Tuesday.
The first village the funeral procession passed through was Ballater, where residents consider the royal family to be neighbours. Hundreds of people watched in silence and some threw flowers in front of the hearse.
“She meant so much to the people of this area. People were crying, it was amazing to see,” said Victoria Pacheco, a guest house manager.
In every Scottish town and village the entourage was met with subdued respectful scenes. People mostly stood there in silence; some clapped politely, others turned their cell phone cameras on the passing cars. In Aberdeenshire, farmers lined the route with an honor guard of tractors.
Along the route, the funeral procession passed places steeped in the history of the House of Windsor. These included Dyce, where the Queen officially opened Britain’s first North Sea oil pipeline in 1975, and Fife, near St Andrews University, where her grandson Prince William, now Prince of Wales, studied and met his future wife Catherine.
Sunday’s celebratory ride came as the Queen’s eldest son officially became the new monarch – King Charles III. – has been appointed in the remaining nations of the United Kingdom: Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. It came one day after onein England.
“I am deeply aware of this great legacy and the duties and heavy responsibilities of sovereignty that have now passed to me,” Charles said Saturday.
Just before the proclamation was read in Edinburgh on Sunday, a protester appeared with a sign condemning imperialism and urging leaders to “abolish the monarchy”. She was taken away by the police. The reaction was mixed. A man shouted, “Let go of her! while others shouted, “Have some respect!”
Nevertheless, there was some booing in Edinburgh when Joseph Morrow, Lord Lyon King of Arms, ended his proclamation with the words “God save the king!”.
Ann Hamilton, 48, said she found the boos “absolutely horrible”.
“Today tens of thousands of people are here to show their respect. I think it was awful that they were here and struggling through things. If they were so against it, they shouldn’t have come,” she said.
Still, it was a sign of how some, including the former British colonies, are struggling with the legacy of the monarchy.
Before that, proclamations were read in other parts of the Commonwealth, including Australia and New Zealand.
Charles set to work at Buckingham Palace while mourning the loss of his late mother, meeting with the Secretary-General and other Commonwealth officials. Many in these nations struggle with affection for the queen and lingering bitterness over her colonial legacy, which has ranged from open slavery to corporal punishment in African schools to looted artifacts in British cultural institutions.
Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, who began laying the groundwork for an Australian republic after an election in May, said on Sunday that now was not the time to change things but to pay tribute to the late Queen.
India, a former British colony, observed a day of national mourning, during which the flags on all government buildings were lowered to half-staff.
Amid the grief that shrouded the House of Windsor, there were hints of a possible family reconciliation. Prince William and his brother Harry, along with their respective wives, Catherine, Princess of Wales and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex,near Windsor Castle with a surprise joint appearance on Saturday.
In Ballater, Rev. David Barr said locals see the royals as neighbours.
“When she comes up here and walks through these gates, I think the royal part of her stays mostly outside,” he said. “And when she went in, she could be a wife, a loving wife, a loving mother, a loving grandma, and later a loving great-grandmother — and aunt — and be normal.”
Elizabeth Taylor, from Aberdeen, was in tears after the hearse driving through Ballater carrying the Queen’s coffin.
“It was very emotional. It was respectful and showed what they think of the Queen,” she said. “She certainly did this country a service, even up until a few days before her death.”