Pallbearers carry the coffin of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth as the hearse arrives at the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh, Scotland, September 11, 2022.
Alkis Konstantinidis | Reuters
Queen Elizabeth’s coffin arrived in Edinburgh on Sunday after a six-hour journey from her summer home in the Scottish Highlands, in front of tens of thousands of mourners along the route, many in somber silence, some applauding and others in tears.
Shortly after 10 a.m. (0900 GMT), a hearse carrying Elizabeth’s oak coffin emerged from the gates of Balmoral Castle, where she died aged 96 on Thursday, at the start of a slow journey to the capital Scottish.
The coffin was draped in the Royal Standard of Scotland with a wreath on top made of flowers from the Balmoral estate, including sweet peas, one of Elizabeth’s favourites.
Crowds, fifteen deep in places, gathered in central Edinburgh to greet the motorcade, which included the Queen’s daughter Princess Anne, as it made its way to the Palace of Holyroodhouse where it was greeted by a military honor guard.
Soldiers from the Royal Regiment of Scotland then carried the coffin to the palace throne room where it will spend the night.
“I couldn’t miss it. I would regret it for the rest of my life,” said Eilidh Mackintosh, 62, who left her home at 6am to make sure she had a good view of the famous Royal Edinburgh Mile where large crowds gathered.
“She never let us down and I didn’t want to let her down either. Now that she’s gone, there’s a big hole in the heart of the nation.”
The trip from Balmoral was the first in a series of events leading up to the state funeral at Westminster Abbey in London on September 19.
People watch the hearse carrying the coffin of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth, on the Royal Mile in Edinburgh, Scotland. September 11, 2022.
Lee Smith | Reuters
In a moving tribute to her mother on Friday, the new monarch, King Charles, said she had embarked on a “last great journey” to join Prince Philip, her 73-year-old husband who died last year.
Her death has prompted tears, sadness and warm tributes, not only from the Queen’s close family and many people in Britain, but also from around the world – reflecting her presence on the world stage during seven decades.
Wherever the motorcade went as it wound through scenic countryside, villages, small towns and cities, people lined the road or stopped their cars to get out and watch. At one point, he passed a guard of honor formed by dozens of tractors lined up in adjacent fields by farmers.
Many watched in silence under the bright sunshine. Some threw flowers on the road. For others, the emotion of the moment moved them to tears. “It’s just very, very sad. I’m happy to be here to say goodbye,” said Elizabeth Alexander, 69, who was born on the day the Queen was crowned in 1953.
Thousands of people continue to gather at other royal palaces across Britain, and large piles of flowers are massing as people visit to pay their respects.
Charles became king immediately after his mother’s death and was officially proclaimed the new monarch in a ceremony on Saturday, full of pageantry and centuries-old traditions.
Similar proclamations follow across the UK and the other 14 kingdoms where Charles is now head of state, including Australia, Canada, Jamaica, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Parliament would be recalled on Thursday to allow MPs to pay their respects.
The Queen ascended the throne following the death of her father, King George VI, on February 6, 1952, when she was just 25. His coronation took place a year later.
While Elizabeth’s death wasn’t entirely unexpected given her age and deteriorating health, the news still came with a sense of shock.
“We all thought she was invincible,” her grandson Prince William, now heir to the throne, told a well-wisher as he met crowds at Windsor Castle on Saturday.
The day of Elizabeth’s funeral will be a public holiday in Britain, officials have announced. US President Joe Biden has said he will be there, although full details of the event and attendees have yet to be released.
Before then, his coffin will be flown to London and there will be a somber procession as it is then moved from Buckingham Palace to Westminster Hall where it will lay in state for four days.
“It goes without saying that we can expect a lot of people,” a spokeswoman for Prime Minister Liz Truss told reporters.
Truss, whose appointment as prime minister on Tuesday was the Queen’s final public act, will join King Charles as the new head of state and prime minister tour the UK’s four nations in the coming days.
Charles, 73, is now the 41st monarch in a line whose origins can be traced to Norman King William the Conqueror who seized the throne of England in 1066.
Elizabeth’s death capped two difficult years for the royal family.
The most publicized issue involved his grandson Prince Harry and his wife Meghan, who left royal life in 2020 to move to California, where they have both been highly critical of the institution.
This left them estranged from the rest of the family, with Harry and his older brother William barely on good terms. But the death of their grandmother put disputes aside, as they appeared with their wives outside Windsor Castle to meet the crowds on Saturday.
A royal source described it as an important show of unity at an incredibly difficult time for the family.