Queen Elizabeth II has completed the first leg of an eight-day journey that will take her to her final resting place in Windsor, as the UK prepares to say goodbye to its longest-serving monarch.
The late Queen’s coffin arrived in Edinburgh at Holyroodhouse after a six-hour procession from Balmoral Castle which started at 10am on Sunday and drew thousands of well-wishers along the route.
The royal hearse made its way to the Scottish capital via the cities of Aberdeen and Dundee, on the first leg of a journey that will finally end when she is buried in the royal vault at St George’s Chapel in the castle of Windsor.
In the presence of her gamekeepers and other staff, the departure of the hearse from the summer retreat in the Scottish highlands, where she died last week, marked the start of a period of events painstakingly choreographed events culminating in his state funeral in London on Monday September. 19.
In the meantime, Charles III, who was officially proclaimed king on Saturday at a televised Accession Council for the first time, will visit the four nations of the UK in a public show of commitment to the ‘union.
He will first arrive in Edinburgh, Scotland, on Monday to meet political leaders after a service at the city’s St. Giles Cathedral, where the late Queen will rest for 24 hours. Then he will travel to Belfast in Northern Ireland on Tuesday. A visit to Wales is scheduled for Friday.
Liz Truss, the new Prime Minister, will join the new King as he travels across the UK in the coming days to lead the country in mourning.
A Downing Street spokesperson said Truss would not play a formal or constitutional role during these visits. “It is not an obligation, but the Prime Minister feels it is important to be present for what is an important moment of national mourning in the UK.”
At the Accession Council ceremony at St James’s Palace in London on Saturday, Charles vowed to shoulder the “heavy responsibility of sovereignty”. Recalling his mother’s 70-year reign, he pledged to “follow the inspiring example given to me”.
The public proclamation that followed – made from a palace balcony to a trumpet fanfare and a rendition of “God Save the King” – marked a return to business after a day of mourning for Queen Elizabeth II on Friday, which included a moving personal address from Charles remembering his “beloved mum”.
The Accession Council ritual, in the State Apartments of St James’s Palace, was last held in 1952 behind closed doors. The decision to televise it was seen as a signal of the king’s desire to put his personal stamp on the institution. The gathering brought together around 200 of the most senior members of the Privy Council, which advises the monarch and dates back to Norman times.
The new monarch surprised well-wishers gathered outside Buckingham Palace on Friday by stopping his car and taking an impromptu walk, receiving a kiss on the cheek from a mourner.
Later that evening, the King delivered his first televised address, which was warmly received, carefully mixing politics with the personal, paying tribute to his mother while signaling that he would retire from charities and causes that he he married as heir.
Echoing the promise made by his mother before ascending the throne, the king promised “lifelong service. . . Whatever your origins or beliefs, I will strive to serve you with loyalty, respect and love.
The Queen’s coffin will be moved from Edinburgh to St. Giles Cathedral on Monday, with King Charles accompanying the coffin. After a service, the public will have their first opportunity to parade and pay their respects.
The Queen’s body will be airlifted to London on Tuesday. Members of the Royal Family will join the procession on Wednesday as the coffin is transferred the short distance from Buckingham Palace to the Palace of Westminster. There the coffin will remain in state for four full days in Westminster Hall until the funeral, which the government confirmed on Saturday would be a public holiday.
Constitutional experts have said the Queen’s death in Scotland, where a Scottish National Party government is agitating for a second independence referendum, could provide the King with a first opportunity to build on the popularity his mother enjoys there -down.