The ceremonial departure of the Queen’s oak coffin from Balmoral Castle to Edinburgh begins an odyssey of national mourning, culminating in a state funeral in London on September 19. The Queen’s final trip begins the day after her son Charles III was officially crowned king, with estranged grandsons William and Harry and their wives Kate and Meghan taking a short walk together.
The hearse carrying the coffin of Britain’s longest-serving monarch will travel six hours through Scottish cities before arriving in Edinburgh, where it will stand for two days for people to pay their last respects.
The king himself will travel to Edinburgh on Monday to attend the service, while the body of the 96-year-old queen, who died at Balmoral on Thursday, will be flown to the capital on Tuesday. Her coffin will lie in state for four days, with at least a million people expected ahead of the funeral, which will be watched around the world and will attract many heads of state.
The family demonstrates unity
When Charles became king, Britain ushered in a new era of what the newspapers called “the necklace”, but Britain and the royal family have yet to come to terms with the end of the Elizabethan era.
Prince William broke his silence on Saturday with an emotional tribute to his beloved ‘Grandma’. “She was there for me in my happiest moments. And she was there for me in the saddest days of my life,” said William, now Prince of Wales.
The Queen’s death also unexpectedly sparked a unity between William, 40, and his younger brother Harry, 37, as they and their wives stepped out to speak to well-wishers outside Windsor Castle, near London. The two couples appearing together, who have barely seen each other since 2020, are likely to spark talk of a reconciliation.
Sunday papers appeared with pictures of all four on their covers. “We’ve come together for grandma,” reads the headline in The Sunday Mirror, “United in pain” in The Telegraph, and “All for one” in The Sun. The Sunday Times, however, highlighted the apparent chill, with its headline reading: “Awkward truce between warring Windsors in honor of Queen”.
Senior royals, including the Queen’s children Princess Anne and Princes Andrew and Edward and their families, also viewed the flowers left at Balmoral after the Queen’s death. The Queen’s coffin, draped in a Scottish royal flag and floral wreath, was kept in the ballroom at Balmoral, to be carried to the hearse by six pallbearers.
‘Many people’ will pay their respects
The symbolism of the Queen’s final journey will not be easy for a nation with strong ties to the monarchy, but so is the Scottish independence movement, which seeks to end centuries of union with the United Kingdom.
Preparations for the historic event began before dawn, special observation decks are being set up on the track, but mourners will be asked not to throw flowers at the passing convoy. “We hope very, very many people will want to pay their respects,” First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said.
The Queen’s coffin will be taken to the Palace of Holyroodhouse, the monarch’s official residence in Scotland, where it will remain for one day. On Monday, King Charles and other royals will take part in a procession as the Queen’s coffin is carried to Edinburgh’s St. Giles Cathedral. The next day, the coffin will be flown by a Royal Air Force plane to Northolt Airfield near London and taken to Buckingham Palace. He will be moved to Westminster Hall for a state funeral on Wednesday.
In a show of national unity, King Charles will also visit Northern Ireland and Wales, accompanied by British Prime Minister Liz Truss, appointed by the late Queen just Tuesday. After Diana’s death in a car accident in 1997. his popularity has recovered, but Charles comes into power at a time of great anxiety in Britain about the rising cost of living and international instability caused by the war in Ukraine.
The Queen’s funeral will be attended by heads of state, including US President Joe Biden, Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and possibly Japan’s Emperor Naruhito.
Charles’ coronation, a lavish ritual steeped in tradition and history, will take place in the same historic setting of Westminster Abbey as it has done for centuries, but a date has yet to be set.
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