King Charles and members of the royal family have received the coffin of the late Queen Elizabeth at Buckingham Palace, after crowds lined the streets in heavy rain to mark its arrival in the British capital.
In a slow procession on Tuesday, the specially-lit hearse passed through London’s streets to allow tens of thousands of people to see the coffin passing by. Elizabeth died peacefully at the age of 96 on Thursday in her holiday home at Balmoral Castle in the Scottish Highlands, plunging the nation into mourning for a monarch who had reigned for 70 years.
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Al Jazeera’s Neave Barker, reporting from London, said it was “a deeply historical moment”.
On Wednesday, the queen’s coffin will be taken on a gun carriage to Westminster Hall where a period of lying in state will begin until the funeral on Monday.
Members of the public will be allowed to pay respect and walk past the coffin for 24 hours a day until the morning of the funeral, which will be attended by dozens of world leaders, including US President Joe Biden. The invitation has not been extended to the leaders of Russia, Belarus and Myanmar, Barker reported.
Before reaching London, the coffin was flown from Scotland in a Royal Air Force plane after lying at rest in St Giles Cathedral in Edinburgh overnight. About 33,000 people had filed past the coffin through the night in the Scottish capital to pay their respects.
Earlier on Tuesday, Charles visited Northern Ireland to lead mourning for the queen there. Political leaders in Belfast paid tribute to his mother’s efforts towards reconciliation between the divided communities of the British-run province and urged him to follow her example. He then returned to London as the coffin was flown south.
Tens of thousands of people had turned out to observe the procession of the coffin along Edinburgh’s historic Royal Mile on Monday after it was brought from Balmoral. On Monday night, Charles, his sister Anne and brothers Andrew and Edward attended a silent vigil at the cathedral.
The coffin was taken from St Giles on Tuesday afternoon and taken by hearse to Edinburgh airport, with groups of people standing in silence by the roadside. It was accompanied by Princess Anne.
“It has been an honour and a privilege to accompany her on her final journeys,” Anne said in a statement. “Witnessing the love and respect shown by so many on these journeys has been both humbling and uplifting.”
A party of bearers from the Royal Air Force carried the coffin onto the transporter plane. A kilted honour guard from the Royal Regiment of Scotland stood with fixed bayonets as a regimental band played the national anthem as the aircraft began to taxi. With that, Scotland bade farewell to the queen.