LONDON (AFP) – Queen Elizabeth II’s flag-draped coffin traversed the rugged Scottish countryside on Sunday on a final journey from her beloved summer home at Balmoral Castle to London, as mourners quietly lined the roads and some hurled flowers in honor of the monarch who then died. 70 years on the throne.
The warship drove past piles of bouquets and other items as it drove a seven-car motorcade from Balmoral, where the Queen died on Thursday., on a six-hour journey through Scottish towns to the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh. The late Queen’s coffin was wrapped in the royal standard of Scotland and topped with a wreath from the farm, including sweet peas, one of the Queen’s favorites.
Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon wrote on Twitter: “A sad and touching moment with Her Majesty the Queen leaving her beloved Balmoral for the last time.” “Today, as she makes her journey to Edinburgh, Scotland will pay tribute to an extraordinary woman.”
Crowds lined parts of the road while the nation mourned Its longest-reigning monarch, the only one most Britons have ever known. In the Scottish village of Ballatier, where residents regard the royal family as neighbours, hundreds watched in silence and some threw flowers in front of a chair as it passed.
“It meant a lot to people in this area. People were crying, it was amazing to see,” said Victoria Pacheco, the manager of the guesthouse.
In every town and village the cars passed by, they were met with similar silent scenes of respect. People mostly stood in silence. Some applauded politely, others pointed their phone cameras at passing cars.
Before reaching the Scottish capital, the procession would walk through what is effectively a corridor of royal memory – passing sites full of House of Windsor history including Dyce, where in 1975 the Queen officially opened the UK’s first North Sea oil pipeline, and Fife near from St Andrews University, where her grandson William, now Prince of Wales, studied, and met his future wife, Catherine.
Sunday’s ceremonial journey through Scotland came as the Queen’s eldest son was officially declared the new king – King Charles III – in the rest of the United Kingdom: Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. It came a day after a pompous inauguration in England steeped in ancient tradition and political symbolism.
“I am fully aware of this great legacy and the enormous duties and responsibilities of the Sovereign, now passed on to me,” Charles said on Saturday.
Just before the proclamation was read on Sunday in Edinburgh, a protester appeared with a sign condemning imperialism and urging leaders to “abolish the monarchy”, and police took them away shortly thereafter. The crowd applauded.
One of the men shouted, “Let it go! It’s freedom of speech!” while others shouted, “Have some respect.”
It is a sign of how some, including the former British Empire’s colonies, are struggling with the legacy of the monarchy. Earlier, advertisements were read in other parts of the Commonwealth of Nations, including Australia and New Zealand.
Charles, even as he mourned his late mother, was going to work at Buckingham Palace, where he met the Secretary-General and other representatives of the Commonwealth, nations grappling with affection for the Queen and persistent bitterness over her colonial legacy.From slavery to corporal punishment in African schools to looted artifacts found in British institutions.
Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, who began paving the way for an Australian republic after elections in May, said Sunday that now was the time not for change but to pay homage to the late Queen.
India, a former British colony, marked an official day of mourning, lowering flags to half-staff at all government buildings across the country.
Amid the grief surrounding the House of Windsor, there were hints of a possible family reconciliation. Prince William and his brother Harryalong with their wives, Catherine, Princess of Wales, and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, delighted mourners near Windsor Castle with a surprise joint appearance on Saturday.
The Queen’s coffin will take an indirect flight to the capital. On Monday, she will be transferred from Holyrood House to nearby St Giles’ Cathedral, where she will remain until Tuesday, when she will be transferred to London. The coffin will be moved from Buckingham Palace on Wednesday to the Houses of Parliament to remain in its condition until a state funeral in Westminster Abbey on September 19.
At Ballater, Reverend David Barr said locals consider members of the royal family to be ‘neighbours’ and try to treat them like locals when they spend their summer in the Scottish Highlands.
‘When you come here, and you go through those gates,’ he said, ‘I think the royal part of it stays mostly outside.’ “And as she entered, she was able to be a wife, a loving wife, a loving mother, a loving gran, and later on as a loving gran–and an aunt–and be normal.”
Elizabeth Taylor, from Aberdeen, had tears in her eyes after the corpse carrying the Queen’s coffin passed through Ballater.
“He was very emotional. She was respectful and showed their opinion of the Queen. She certainly did a service to this country even a few days before her death.”
Follow the Associated Press’ coverage of Queen Elizabeth II at https://apnews.com/hub/queen-elizabeth-ii