Queen Elizabeth II’s flag-draped coffin has arrived at the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh following a six-hour journey from Balmoral Castle, where the United Kingdom’s longest reigning monarch passed away on Thursday.
Thousands of people lined up along the route in Scotland to pay their last respects to the late monarch, the only one most Britons have ever known. Earlier on Sunday, flowers and other tributes were piled up outside the gates of Balmoral and Holyroodhouse.
The coffin will be taken from Holyroodhouse to nearby St Giles’ Cathedral in Edinburgh on Monday, where it will remain before being flown to London for a state funeral on September 19.
It will then be moved from Buckingham Palace on Wednesday to the Houses of Parliament to lie in state until the funeral at Westminster Abbey.
Elizabeth Alexander, aged 69 and born on the day the queen was crowned in 1953, was in the village of Ballater to see the coffin go by.
“I think it will be very emotional for anyone saying goodbye. It’s like a family member, it overwhelms – the sadness – that she’s not going to be with us,” said Alexander.
The queen came to the throne following the death of her father, King George VI, on February 6, 1952, when she was just 25. Her coronation took place a year later.
“Many people who have been gathering here for so long, have been standing and they are not walking away – this moment is not over,” said Al Jazeera’s Alan Fisher, reporting from the front of the Palace of Holyroodhouse where people have been laying flowers since the early hours.
“It gives people the opportunity to have a collective farewell to a woman who was loved and admired who was liked by the Scots … and let’s face it Scots tend not to like everyone, but had a special place of affection for the queen,” Fisher said.
‘Heavy responsibilities of sovereignty’
Sunday’s solemn drive through Scotland comes a day after the queen’s eldest son was formally proclaimed the new monarch – King Charles III – at a pomp-filled accession ceremony steeped in ancient tradition and political symbolism.
“I am deeply aware of this great inheritance and of the duties and heavy responsibilities of sovereignty, which have now passed to me,” Charles said as he took on the duties of monarch.
He was proclaimed king in other nations of the UK – Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland – and in towns across the country.
Earlier, proclamations were held in other parts of the Commonwealth – the group of former British Empire colonies – including Australia and New Zealand.
Even as he mourned his late mother, Charles was getting down to work. He met the secretary-general of the Commonwealth, a group of nations that grapples with affection for the queen and lingering bitterness over their own colonial legacies, at Buckingham Palace. That ranged from slavery to corporal punishment in African schools to looted artefacts held in British institutions.