Edinburgh, Scotland — In a dark and royal procession,The flag-draped coffin was driven slowly through the Scottish countryside on Sunday from his beloved Balmoral Castle to the Scottish capital of Edinburgh. Mourners filled city streets and highway bridges or lined rural roads with cars and tractors to take part in a historic farewell to the monarch who reigned for 70 years.
The hearse passed piles of bouquets and other tributes as it led a seven-car motorcade from Balmoral, where the Queen died on Thursday aged 96, on a six-hour journey through Scottish towns to at the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh. The late Queen’s coffin was draped in the Royal Standard for Scotland and topped with a wreath made from the estate’s flowers, including sweet peas, one of the Queen’s favourites.
The queen’s coffin was making a circuitous journey to the capital. After being airlifted to London on Tuesday, the coffin will be moved from Buckingham Palace on Wednesday to the Houses of Parliament to lay in state until 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 joined by first lady Jill Biden.
The procession was a huge event for Scotland as the UK takes days to mourn its longest-reigning monarch, the only one most Britons have ever known. People showed up hours early to grab space near police barricades in Edinburgh. In the afternoon, the crowd was 10 people at the back of the premises.
“I think she was always a constant in my life. She was the queen I was born under and she was always there,” said Angus Ruthven, a 54-year-old civil servant from Edinburgh. “I think it’s going to take a lot of adjustments for her not to be there. It’s quite sudden.”
Silence fell over Edinburgh’s crowded Royal Mile as the hearse carrying the Queen arrived. But as the convoy disappeared, the crowd spontaneously burst into applause.
When the hearse reached Holyroodhouse, members of the Royal Regiment of Scotland, wearing green tartan kilts, carried the coffin past the Queen’s three youngest children – Princess Anne, Prince Andrew and Prince Edward – and into the hall from the throne, where he was to remain until Monday afternoon so that the staff could pay their last respects.
King Charles III and his Queen consort Camilla will travel to Edinburgh on Monday to join another solemn procession which will take the Queen’s coffin to St. Giles Cathedral on the city’s Royal Mile. The coffin will remain there for 24 hours so the Scottish public can pay their respects before it is flown to London on Tuesday.
The first village the procession passed through was Ballater, where locals 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 people in this area. People were crying, it was amazing to see,” said Victoria Pacheco, a guesthouse manager.
In every Scottish town and village, those around them were greeted with muted scenes of respect. The people stood mostly in silence; some cheered politely, others pointed their phone cameras at passing cars. In Aberdeenshire, farmers lined the road with an honor guard of tractors.
Along the route, the procession passed through places steeped in the history of the House of Windsor. These included Dyce, where in 1975 the Queen officially opened Britain’s first North Sea pipeline, and Fife, near the University of St. Andrews, where her grandson Prince William, today Prince of Wales, studied and met his future wife, Catherine.
Sunday’s solemn walk came as the Queen’s eldest son was officially proclaimed the new monarch – King Charles III – in the rest of the UK nations: Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. He came a day after aIn England.
“I am keenly aware of this great heritage and the heavy duties and responsibilities of sovereignty, which have now been handed down to me,” Charles said on Saturday.
Just before the reading of the proclamation in Edinburgh on Sunday, a protester appeared with a placard condemning imperialism and urging leaders to “abolish the monarchy”. She was taken away by the police. The reaction was mixed. A man shouted, “Let her go! It’s freedom of expression! while others shouted: “Have some respect!”
Still, there were boos 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 thought the boos were “absolutely terrible”.
“There are tens of thousands of people here today to show their respect. For them to be here, heckling through things, I think it was terrible. If they were so against it, they wouldn’t shouldn’t have come,” she said.
Yet it was a sign of how some, including former British colonies, are struggling with the legacy of the monarchy.
Previously, proclamations were read in other parts of the Commonwealth, including Australia and New Zealand.
Charles, even as he mourned his late mother, set to work at Buckingham Palace, meeting the Secretary General and other Commonwealth officials. Many in these nations grapple with affection for the Queen and a lingering bitterness about their colonial heritage, which ranged from outright slavery to corporal punishment in African schools to looted artifacts held in British cultural institutions.
Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, who had begun laying the groundwork for an Australian republic after an election in May, said on Sunday that now was not the time for change but to pay tribute to the late Queen.
India, a former British colony, observed a day of national mourning, with flags flown at half-mast on all government buildings.
Amid the grief shrouding the Windsor home, 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, the Reverend David Barr said locals regard the royal family as neighbours.
“When she gets here and walks through these doors, I think the royal part of her mostly stays on the outside,” he said. “And as she goes in, she’s been able to be a wife, a loving wife, a loving mom, a loving grandmother, and then later a loving great-grandmother – and an aunt – and be normal.”
Elizabeth Taylor, of Aberdeen, had tears in her eyes after the hearse carrying the Queen’s coffin passed through Ballater.
“It was very moving. It was respectful and showed what they thought of the Queen,” she said. “She certainly did this country a service, even up to a few days before her death.”