The public gathers in front of Elizabeth II's coffin in Edinburgh

The public gathers in front of Elizabeth II’s coffin in Edinburgh

EDINBURGH | For the first time since the death of Elizabeth II, the British, sometimes moved to tears, were able to meditate on Monday on her coffin, exposed in the Saint-Gilles Cathedral in Edinburgh at the beginning of a week of farewell to the monarch.

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New stage of the sovereign’s last trip, until her funeral next Monday in London, the funeral procession, led by King Charles III, surrounded by his brothers and sisters, arrived at the cathedral after crossing Edinburgh during a slow procession in absolute silence .

The hearse carrying the remains of Elizabeth II who had spent the night at the Palace of Holyroodhouse, the Queen’s official residence in Scotland, was thus followed on foot by Charles III, Princes Andrew and Edward, as well as by the Princess Ana in the cobbled streets of the Scottish capital.

They marched at a pace for more than a mile into the old town, all in black military uniforms except Andres, who had retired from the monarchy following sexual assault charges for which he ended up paying millions of dollars.

A peculiarity that confirms the marginalization of what has often been called the “favorite son” of Elizabeth II.

After a religious ceremony, the coffin, covered with the Scottish royal standard (yellow, red and navy blue), and on which the crown of Scotland was deposited, in solid gold, as well as a crown of white flowers, is now exposed in the cathedral for 24 hours, before leaving for London, drawing massive crowds.

The police thus told AFP that 30,000 bracelets had already been distributed, the key to enter the cathedral. The queue stretches for more than 1.5 kilometers, according to an AFP journalist.

The population can thus lean several meters away and behind a security cordon in front of the oak coffin, raised on a platform, under the supervision of four archers from the Royal Company and a dozen policemen.

Some anonymous people signed in front of the body, others bowed. Sometimes tears streamed down their faces.

“piece of history”

Four days after the death of Elizabeth II in her Scottish castle of Balmoral and a week before her funeral, the emotion is still strong in the United Kingdom, and the large public to accompany the last trip of the popular sovereign.

Elizabeth II, a symbol of stability during decades of turmoil, a planetary icon who reassured Britons in times of crisis, will remain on display in the cathedral for 24 hours, enjoying exceptional popularity.

“I will stay as long as it takes,” Sam Whitton, a Scotsman in the long queue to see the coffin, told AFP. For him, the queen represented “a piece of history”.

Among the public who came to see the convoy pass, Lorraine Logan, 60, who came with her folding seat, explains that she arrived in the morning to have a seat in the second row: “It was even sadder than I thought.”

“It was amazing to see the king and completely surreal to see the queen’s coffin parade through Edinburgh. It’s a moment that will go down in history,” said John McMonagle, 52, in a dark suit, from Glasgow.

“Weight of History”

Carlos III is installed as monarch with the difficult task of succeeding his very popular mother in a context of serious social crisis and divisions in the United Kingdom, but also of protest against the colonialist past in his other 14 kingdoms.

He is 73 years old, older than all British sovereigns on their accession to the throne.

Charles III went to the Scottish Parliament on Monday afternoon for a condolence session and for the occasion he changed his black military suit for a burgundy kilt, an outfit that he has always particularly liked.

This day marks the beginning of a tour of the four constituent nations of the United Kingdom, which will take him to Belfast and Cardiff and which began on Monday morning at the British Parliament in London.

“Standing before you today, I cannot help but feel the weight of history that surrounds us,” the sovereign said.

He stated that his mother was “an example of devotion which, with God’s help and guidance, I am resolved to faithfully follow.”

During her 70-year reign as Head of State, Elizabeth II maintained impeccable neutrality, fulfilling her constitutional functions without ever publicly expressing them, opening Parliament, enacting laws, validating appointments and even enthroning her, two days before she died at the age of 96. . of her, the fifteenth head of government of her.

Retired from the monarchy since the resounding “Megxit”, Prince Harry joined the tributes to Elizabeth II, whom he called “compass”, thanking his “grandma” for her sense of duty and her “contagious smile”: “Already You will be sorely missed.”

waiting lines

After this first day of presentation to the population, the remains will be shipped on Tuesday night at Edinburgh airport aboard a royal plane bound for London.

It will go back on public display 24 hours a day, closed, draped in the royal banner, on a platform at the Palace of Westminster from Wednesday night.

Long queues are expected – which could reach eight kilometers – while 750,000 people could try to see the coffin, according to the newspaper The times.

Elizabeth II’s remains will remain in Parliament for five days before the state funeral. Some 500 foreign dignitaries are expected, a considerable security challenge for police including US President Joe Biden, his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron, as well as many crowned heads.

The day before the event, on Sunday, the public will be called to observe a minute of silence at 8:00 p.m., “a moment of reflection” in memory of the sovereign with a longevity unmatched in the history of the United Kingdom.

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