Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Queen Elizabeth II’s Coffin Arrives At Edinburgh Palace

The coffin carrying Queen Elizabeth II arrived on Sunday at Holyroodhouse Palace in Edinburgh, the monarch’s official Scottish residence, completing the first leg of her sombre final journey.

The hearse leading the seven-car cortege had left Balmoral Castle, where the queen died on Thursday aged 96, just after 0900 GMT and made a 180-mile (290 kilometre) journey along streets lined with mourners.

As the hearse left Balmoral Castle, some well-wishers threw flowers or applauded, while others were in tears as the long convoy led by a black hearse wound its way slowly on a six-hour journey to Scotland’s capital, where it will stay for two days.

Six groundskeepers had loaded the oak coffin — draped with a Scottish Royal Standard and a floral wreath — into the hearse that was followed by a Bentley carrying the queen’s only daughter Princess Anne.

The first glimpse of the queen’s coffin for a grieving nation came a day after her son Charles III was formally proclaimed king, and after her warring grandsons William and Harry, and their wives Kate and Meghan, briefly reunited for a walkabout.

The king himself will travel to Edinburgh on Monday for a prayer service, before the body of the queen, who died at Balmoral on Thursday aged 96, is flown to London on Tuesday.

Britain’s longest-serving monarch will then 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.

“We want to say thank you that we can honour the memory of the Queen,” said Ukrainian Viktoriia Saienko, who fled Kharkiv, one of the cities devastated by Russia’s invasion, and is working in Scotland.

“We wanted to say thank you very much to Britain, to the Queen and all her family,” the 29-year-old said as she waited in Edinburgh with a group of her compatriots clutching bouquets of roses.

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.

“A sad and poignant moment as Her Majesty, The Queen leaves her beloved Balmoral for the final time,” Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon wrote on Twitter.

“Today, as she makes her journey to Edinburgh, Scotland will pay tribute to an extraordinary woman.”

The queen’s coffin will be taken to the Holyroodhouse Palace, the monarch’s official residence in Scotland, where it will rest for a day.

King Charles — who was formally proclaimed monarch in Scotland at a pomp-filled ceremony on Sunday — and other royals will on Monday take part in a procession to convey her coffin along Edinburgh’s Royal Mile to St Giles’ Cathedral.

The following day the coffin will be flown by Royal Air Force jet to Northolt airfield near London, and driven to Buckingham Palace. Then, on Wednesday, it will be moved to Westminster Hall to lie in state.

King Charles will also visit Northern Ireland and Wales in a show of national unity. The new monarch will be joined at memorial services by British Prime Minister Liz Truss, who was only appointed by the late queen on Tuesday.

Charles has seen his popularity recover since the death of his former wife Diana, Princess of Wales, in a 1997 car crash, but he takes the throne at a moment of deep anxiety in Britain over the spiralling cost of living and international instability caused by the war in Ukraine.

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