Queen's coffin slowly heads to Edinburgh

·4-min read

Queen Elizabeth's coffin is on a six-hour journey from her home in the Scottish Highlands to Edinburgh, as crowds lined the roads to pay tribute to the monarch in the first of a series of solemn events leading up to her funeral on September 19.

At 10am (1900 AEST) on Sunday, Elizabeth's oak coffin, which had been in the ballroom of Balmoral Castle covered with the royal standard of Scotland and with a wreath of flowers on top, was placed in a hearse by six gamekeepers.

Shortly afterwards, the hearse emerged from the gates of Balmoral to head towards the Scottish capital. The Queen died at her summer residence on Thursday aged 96, after 70 years on the throne.

Her death has drawn tears, sadness and warm tributes, not just from the queen's own close family and many in Britain, but also from around the globe - reflecting her presence on the world stage for seven decades.

The Queen came to the throne following the death of her father King George VI on February 6, 1952, when she was 25. Her coronation took place a year later.

Accompanied by the Queen's daughter, Princess Anne, the cortege is slowly making its way from the remote castle, winding through small towns and villages to Edinburgh where the coffin will be taken to the throne room of the Palace of Holyroodhouse.

The slow cortege is the first of a series of events leading up to the state funeral in London. Tens of thousands have gathered at royal palaces in the days since Elizabeth's death to leave flowers and to pay their respects.

"I know how deeply you, the entire nation - and I think I may say the whole world - sympathise with me in the irreparable loss we have all suffered," her son King Charles said at a ceremony on Saturday.

Charles became king immediately after his mother's death but was officially proclaimed the new monarch at the ceremony.

While Elizabeth's death was not totally unexpected given her age, the fact her health had been deteriorating and the passing of her husband of 73 years 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 the heir to the throne, told a well-wisher on Saturday as he met crowds at Windsor castle.

Elizabeth's funeral will take place at London's Westminster Abbey and September 19 will be a public holiday in Britain, officials announced. US President Joe Biden said he would be there, although full details of the event and the attendees have not yet been released.

Before that, her coffin will be flown to London and there will be a sombre procession when it is later moved from Buckingham Palace to Westminster Hall where it will lie in state for four days.

Prime Minister Liz Truss, whose appointment as prime minister on Tuesday was the Queen's last public act, will join King Charles as both the new head of state and prime minister tour the four nations of the United Kingdom in the next few days.

Charles, 73, is now the 41st monarch in a line that traces its origins to the Norman King William the Conqueror who captured the English throne in 1066.

He is king and head of state not only of the United Kingdom but of 14 other realms including Australia, Canada, Jamaica, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea.

Elizabeth's death has capped a difficult couple of years for the royal family, including the death last year of Elizabeth's husband Prince Philip.

Andrew, second son of the late queen and reputed to have been her favourite child, stepped down from royal duties in 2019 after a disastrous TV interview in which he had hoped to clear his name over his relationship to the late US financier and sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.

Her grandson Prince Harry and his wife Meghan stepped down from royal life in 2020 to move to California.

Harry and Meghan have been alienated from the rest of the family since, with Harry and brother William said to be barely on speaking terms.

But the death of their grandmother seemed to help heal the rift, as they appeared together with their wives outside Windsor Castle to meet the crowds on Saturday.