EDINBURGH: Thousands of mourners thronged the route for the final journey of Queen Elizabeth II on Sunday as her coffin arrived in Edinburgh from the Scottish retreat where she died.
Huge crowds packed the streets of Scotland’s capital as the hearse bearing Britain’s longest-serving monarch completed the first leg of a sombre odyssey that will culminate with her state funeral in London on Sept 19.
Soldiers in kilts stood to attention as the seven-car cortege arrived at Holyroodhouse palace after a six-hour drive from the queen’s Balmoral residence where she passed away on Thursday, aged 96.
Some of the well-wishers along the way had thrown flowers or applauded, while others were in tears as the convoy including the queen’s only daughter Princess Anne went by. “It is history, history in the making. We lived so long with the queen — 70 years,” said former soldier Stuart Mackay.
“It’s the only Monarch we’ve known and I think it’s my duty to be here to wave her goodbye.”
The queen’s coffin will rest in Holyroodhouse Palace, the monarch’s official residence in Scotland, for a day before being moved to St Giles’ cathedral for the public to pay their respects.
Her son Charles III — formally proclaimed monarch on Saturday — will travel to Edinburgh on Monday for a prayer service and to mount a vigil by her coffin along with other members of the royal family.
The body of the queen will be flown to London the day after to lie in state for four days, which is expected to draw at least a million people, ahead of a funeral set to be watched worldwide and attended by numerous heads of state. The symbolism of the queen’s last journey will be heavy for Scotland — a nation with deep royal links, but where there is also a strong independence movement intent on severing the centuries-old union with the United Kingdom.
Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon wrote on Twitter that it was a “sad and poignant moment” to see the queen leave her cherished Balmoral refuge for the final time.