Edinburgh, Scotland — In a somber, regal procession,‘s flag-draped coffin was driven slowly through the Scottish countryside Sunday from her beloved Balmoral Castle to the Scottish capital of Edinburgh. Mourners packed city streets and highway bridges or lined rural roads with cars and tractors to take part in a historic goodbye to the monarch who had reigned for 70 years.
The hearse drove past piles of bouquets and other tributes as it led a seven-car cortege from Balmoral, where the queen died Thursday at age 96, for a six-hour trip through Scottish towns to Holyroodhouse palace in Edinburgh. The late queen’s coffin was draped in the Royal Standard for Scotland and topped with a wreath made of flowers from the estate, including sweet peas, one of the queen’s favorites.
The queen’s coffin was taking a circuitous journey back to the capital. After it is flown to London on Tuesday, the coffin will be moved from Buckingham Palace on Wednesday to the Houses of Parliament to lie in state until a state funeral at Westminster Abbey on Sept. 19. The White House said on Sunday that President Biden had formally accepted an invitation to attend the funeral, and he will be accompanied by first lady Jill Biden.
The procession was a huge event for Scotland as the U.K. takes days to mourn its longest-reigning monarch, the only one most Britons have ever known. People turned out hours early to grab a space by the police barricades in Edinburgh. By afternoon, the crowds were 10 people deep in places.
“I think she has been an ever-constant in my life. She was the queen I was born under, and she has always been there,” said Angus Ruthven, a 54-year-old civil servant from Edinburgh. “I think it is going to take a lot of adjusting that she is not here. It is quite a sudden thing.”
Silence fell on the packed Royal Mile in Edinburgh as the hearse carrying the queen arrived. But as the convoy vanished from view, the crowd spontaneously started clapping.
When the hearse reached Holyroodhouse, members of the Royal Regiment of Scotland, wearing green tartan kilts, carried the coffin past the queen’s youngest three children — Princess Anne, Prince Andrew and Prince Edward — and into the throne room, where it was to remain until Monday afternoon so staff can pay their last respects.
King Charles III and his Queen Consort Camilla will travel Monday to Edinburgh to join another solemn procession that takes the queen’s coffin to St. Giles Cathedral on the city’s Royal Mile. There the coffin will remain for 24 hours so the Scottish public can pay their respects before it is flown to London on Tuesday.
The first village…