By Michael Holden and Russell Cheyne
BALMORAL, Scotland (Reuters) – Queen Elizabeth’s coffin will be taken from her home in the Scottish Highlands on a slow six-hour journey to Edinburgh on Sunday, giving the public a chance to line the streets in tribute to the late monarch from seven decades on the throne.
The 96-year-old’s death has prompted tears, grief and heartfelt tributes, not only from the Queen’s immediate family and many in Britain, but from around the world – reflecting her presence on the world stage for the past 70 years.
On Sunday at 09:00 GMT, Elizabeth’s oak coffin, which lies in the ballroom of Balmoral Castle covered in the royal standards of Scotland and topped with a wreath of flowers, will be placed in hearses by six gamekeepers.
Accompanied by the Queen’s daughter, Princess Anne, the group will slowly make its way from the remote castle, passing through small towns and villages to Edinburgh, where the coffin will be taken to the throne room of the Palace of Holyroodhouse.
Tens of thousands gathered at the royal palaces in the days after Elizabeth’s death on Thursday to lay flowers and pay their respects.
“I know how deeply you, the whole nation – and I think I can say the whole world – sympathize with me for the irreparable loss we have all suffered,” her son, King Charles, said at a ceremony on Saturday where he was officially named the new monarch .
“It is of the greatest comfort to me to know the sympathy so many have extended to my sister and brothers, and that this overwhelming affection and support must be extended to our whole family in our loss.”
While Elizabeth’s death was not entirely unexpected, given her age, the fact that her health had declined and the death of her 73-year-old husband Prince Philip last year, there was still a sense of shock at the news.
“We all thought she was invincible,” her grandson Prince William, now heir to the throne, told a well-wisher on Saturday as he met crowds at Windsor Castle.
Elizabeth’s state funeral will be held at London’s Westminster Abbey on Monday, September 19, which will be a public holiday in Britain, officials have announced. US President Joe Biden has said he will be there, although full details of the event and attendees have yet to be released.
Before that, her coffin will be flown to London and there will be a somber procession when it is later taken from Buckingham Palace to Westminster Hall where it will lie in state for four days.
In 2002, more than 200,000 people lined up to pay their respects to Elizabeth’s mother while her coffin lay in state, and her aides had previously said there was an expectation that millions might want to visit.
“It goes without saying that we can expect a large number of people,” Prime Minister’s spokeswoman Liz Truss told reporters.
Truss, whose appointment as prime minister on Tuesday was the Queen’s last public act, will follow King Charles as the new head of state and prime minister on a tour of the UK’s four nations in the coming days. [L8N30H0GR]
Charles, 73, succeeded his mother immediately but was officially crowned king on Saturday in a colorful ceremony full of pageantry and dating back centuries after the Council of Accession met at St James’s – a royal palace built for Henry VIII in the decade of 1530.
Charles is now the 41st monarch in a line that traces its roots to the Norman King William the Conqueror who took the English throne in 1066.
Elizabeth’s death capped a difficult two years for the royal family, which saw the loss of Prince Philip, its patriarch, her second son Prince Andrew, who was accused of sexual abuse – which he denied – and the prince’s grandson Harry and his wife Meghan. royal life to move to California.
Harry and Meghan have been estranged from the rest of the family ever since, with Harry and his brother William said to be barely on speaking terms. But their grandmother’s death managed to reunite them as they appeared with their wives outside Windsor Castle to meet the crowds on Saturday.
A royal source described it as an important show of unity at an incredibly difficult time for the family.
(Reporting by Michael Holden in London and Russell Cheyne in Balmoral; Editing by Kate Holton and Mark Potter)