Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II begins her final journey on Sunday with thousands of mourners expected to follow her coffin’s route from the Scottish retreat where she died.
The formal departure of the Queen’s oak coffin from Balmoral Castle to Edinburgh marks the start of an odyssey of national mourning culminating in her state funeral in London on September 19.
Her trip begins a day after her son Charles III was officially crowned king and after her feuding grandsons William and Harry and their wives Kate and Meghan briefly reunited for a walk.
A hearse carrying the coffin of Britain’s longest-serving monarch will make a six-hour journey through Scottish towns before arriving in Edinburgh, where it will rest for two days so people can pay their respects.
The king himself will then 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 the capital on Tuesday.
He will then lie in state for four days in an event expected to attract at least one million people, before a funeral that will be watched around the world and will bring together many heads of state.
“We are living in history at the moment,” said Laura Burns, 49, who planned to see the Queen’s coffin pass through Edinburgh after coming to the city for her son to start university.
“It’s a very respectful atmosphere,” he told AFP.
While Charles’s accession has pushed Britain into what newspapers are calling the new “Carrollian” era, Britain and the royal family are still coming to terms with the end of the Elizabethan era.
Prince William broke his silence with a touching tribute to his beloved ‘Grandma’ on Saturday.
“He was by my side in my happiest moments. And he was by my side in the saddest days of my life,” said William, who is now the Prince of Wales.
But the Queen’s death also brought a surprise show of unity from William, 40, and his younger brother Harry, 37, when they appeared with their wives to address well-wishers outside Windsor Castle, near London.
The sight of the two couples who have barely seen each other since 2020, together – even if they did break up to speak and shake hands with different sides of the cheering crowd – will likely spark rumors of a reconciliation.
The photos of the four were splashed across the front pages of the Sunday papers.
‘Reunted for granny’ ran the Sunday Mirror headline, while the Telegraph ran ‘Reunted in sorrow’ and the Sun ‘All 4 One’.
The Sunday Times focused on the apparent freeze, with the headline: “Warring Windsors awkward truce to honor Queen”.
Senior members of the royal family, including the Queen’s children, Princess Anne and Princes Andrew and Edward and their families also inspected flowers outside Balmoral, where they have remained since the Queen’s death.
The Queen’s coffin, draped in a Scottish royal pattern and wreath of flowers, has been kept in Balmoral’s ballroom and will be carried in her hearse by six estate game wardens.