Queen Elizabeth’s coffin began a six-hour journey from her home in the Scottish Highlands to Edinburgh on Sunday as crowds lined the roads in silence, paying tribute to the monarch who reigned for 70 years.
At 10 a.m. (0900 GMT), the oak coffin of Elizabeth, which had been in the ballroom at Balmoral Castle since her death on Thursday aged 96, was placed in a hearse by six guards. hunt.
Shortly after, the hearse emerged from the gates of Balmoral heading for the Scottish capital. The coffin was draped with the Royal Standard of Scotland and topped with a wreath of flowers from the Balmoral estate, including sweet peas – one of Elizabeth’s favourites.
The slow procession is the first in a series of events leading up to the state funeral at Westminster Abbey in London on September 19.
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.
In the small nearby village of Ballater, hundreds of people stood by the side of the road in silence as the hearse passed, some throwing flowers into the road.
“It’s like a member of the family, it’s overwhelming – the sadness – that she’s not with us,” said Elizabeth Alexander, 69, born on the day the Queen was crowned in 1953.
Accompanied by the Queen’s daughter, Princess Anne, the cortege will slowly travel from the remote castle, winding through small towns and villages to Edinburgh where the coffin will be taken to the throne room of the Palace of Holyroodhouse.
Tens of thousands of people have gathered at royal palaces since Elizabeth’s death to lay flowers and pay their respects.
“I know how much you, the whole nation – and I think I can say the whole world – sympathize with me for the irreparable loss that we have all suffered,” his son, King Charles, said on Saturday during a ceremony.
The Queen ascended to 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.
Charles became king immediately after his mother’s death but was officially proclaimed the new monarch during the ceremony.
While Elizabeth’s death was not entirely unexpected given her age, the fact that her health had deteriorated and the death of her 73-year-old husband Prince Philip last year, there was always a sense of shock at the news.
“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.
In 2002, more than 200,000 people lined up to pay their respects to Elizabeth’s mother as her coffin lay in state and aides previously said there was a wait millions of people would want to visit .
“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.
He is king and head of state not only of the United Kingdom, but of 14 other kingdoms, including Australia, Canada, Jamaica, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea.
Elizabeth’s death capped two difficult years for the royal family, including the death last year of Elizabeth’s husband, Prince Philip.
The most high-profile issue involved his grandson Prince Harry and his wife Meghan, who left royal life in 2020 to move to California, from 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.