Edinburgh: The coffin of the late Queen Elizabeth was taken along the Royal Mile in the Scottish capital Edinburgh on Monday in a silent and solemn procession watched by thousands of people lining the street to pay their respects to Britain’s longest serving monarch.
The skirl of bagpipes was the only sound as kilted soldiers from the Royal Regiment of Scotland bore the coffin from the Palace of Holyroodhouse and placed it in the hearse.
A gun salute crashed out from a battery on Edinburgh Castle as the hearse began its journey. Then there was just silence.
King Charles and his siblings - Anne, Andrew and Edward - walked behind the hearse up the historic street. The Royal Company of Archers provided the guard of honour.
The coffin will lie in St Giles’ Cathedral for an overnight vigil before being flown to London on Tuesday.
Elizabeth died on Thursday in her holiday home at Balmoral, in the Scottish Highlands, at the age of 96 after a 70-year reign, plunging the nation into mourning.
Charles became king on her death and was formally proclaimed as monarch on Saturday.
Tina Richardson, 63, a retiree from Dunbar, was among those standing on the centuries-old Royal Mile beside the cathedral.
She said her middle name was Elizabeth after the late queen.
“She’s like a member of my own family. There’ll never be anyone like her,” she told Reuters. “She was such a beautiful lady who gave us all so much. She dedicated her whole life to the country. In good times and bad she was there, especially during COVID. She united everybody.” Carol Williams, 52, a part-time primary teacher from Dunfermline, said she wanted to watch what she called a symbolic moment in Britain’s history.
“I just feel so privileged that we can watch this moment. We are so lucky that we have this opportunity to pay our respects like this. If she died in London, we would never have had this opportunity,” she said.
Earlier on Monday in London, King Charles had addressed members of the British parliament at Westminster Hall.
He called parliament the “living and breathing instrument of our democracy” and pledged to follow his late mother’s example in maintaining its independence.
As with all the ceremonies taking place to mark the queen’s death and Charles’ accession to the throne, there was much pageantry.
He arrived at Westminster Hall to a fanfare of trumpets with his wife Camilla, Queen Consort. The royal couple sat on ceremonial chairs, with cavalry troopers in red tunics and plumed helmets standing to attention behind.
Charles told members of the House of Commons and the House of Lords: “While very young, Her late Majesty pledged herself to serve her country and her people and to maintain the precious principles of constitutional government which lie at the heart of our nation. This vow she kept with unsurpassed devotion.
“She set an example of selfless duty which, with God’s help and your counsels, I am resolved faithfully to follow.” The assembly then sang “God Save the King”.
Charles, 73, who is now king of the United Kingdom and 14 other realms including Australia, Canada, Jamaica, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea, is known for expressing his views on matters ranging from the environment to youth issues.
He has suggested that as king, he might have to moderate his style, in keeping with the tradition that the monarch keeps out of political matters.
Crown of Scotland
On Sunday, the queen’s oak coffin, draped in the Royal Standard of Scotland with a wreath of white flowers on top, was taken by hearse on a six-hour journey from Balmoral through picturesque Scottish countryside, villages, small towns and cities to Edinburgh.
Tens of thousands of well-wishers lined the roads to pay their respects, while huge crowds, some in tears, gathered in Edinburgh to greet the cortege.
Charles, who will also visit the Scottish parliament and meet Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, will later mount a vigil along with other royals.
On Tuesday, the coffin will be flown to London, where on Wednesday it will begin a period of lying in state until early on Sept. 19 - the day of Elizabeth’s state funeral on a catafalque at Westminster Hall.
In London, members of the public will be allowed to process past the coffin, which will be covered by the Royal Standard with the sovereign’s Orb and Sceptre placed on top, for 24 hours a day until 6.30 am on Sept. 19.
“Those wishing to attend will be required to queue for many hours, possibly overnight,” the government said in a statement.
“Large crowds are expected.” Thousands of people continued to gather at royal palaces across Britain, bringing flowers. In Green Park near Buckingham Palace, where some of the tributes are being taken, long lines of bouquets now snake around the park allowing mourners to read the tributes.
“It’s really touched me, losing the queen,” Amy Gibbs, 43, said outside Buckingham Palace. “I think she was an amazing lady that did her absolute best and gave us everything.” Britain last saw such a display of public mourning in 1997 after the death of Charles’s first wife, Princess Diana, in a Paris car crash.
In his first public comment since the queen’s death, Prince Harry - Diana’s son - paid an emotional tribute to his “granny” on Monday, saying she would be sorely missed not just by the family, but the world over.
“We, too, smile knowing that you and grandpa are reunited now, and both together in peace,” Harry said, a reference to Elizabeth’s husband of 73 years Prince Philip who died last year.