Flora and Lindsay Gemmel, 76 and 55, mother and daughter, have arrived in Edinburgh early in the morning. They come from Glasgow, with their family and loaded with parapets: something to snack on, blankets in case it’s cold, some chairs to sit on and several British flags. At nine in the morning they already had their place on the Royal Mile in Edinburgh. “We came early, but unfortunately, we have not found a place in the first row,” laments the daughter in reference to the space closest to the fences that cut Avenue. “That is why we have opened our chairs and sat down to wait,” she adds. Since early in the morning, this beautiful street in the old town of Scotland’s capital has been receiving more and more people interested in witnessing the transfer of Elizabeth II’s coffin from the Palace of Holyroodhouse, where it arrived on Sunday afternoon, to Saint Giles Cathedral, the first place where Elizabeth II’s coffin will be displayed to the public.
Like the Gemmel family, thousands of people wanted to experience this moment that, repeatedly, many describe as “historic”. “There are more people than yesterday [por este domingo]”, affirmed one of the security agents deployed in the area. He refers to the day before, when the coffin arrived in the city, after traveling 280 kilometers in just over six hours, from Balmoral Castle, where the monarch died on September 8. “I feel sad, very sad”, continues Flora Gemmel: “She has been a part of my life. I remember when she was crowned. Soon after, she came to Glasgow, I was a girl and she visited us at school. Since then, every time she has come to my city, I have gone to see her.”
This Monday, in addition to the coffin, several members of royalty will pass through the capital of Scotland: King Charles III, with the queen consort Camila; Princess Ana, and Princes Andrew and Edward, all accompanied by their partners. All in gala except Andrés, the monarch’s favorite and deprived of her titles by her due to her links with the pederast Jeffrey Epstein, who committed suicide in a United States prison. One of Epstein’s victims sued Andrés, whom he accused of having sexually abused her up to three times when he was a minor, in a case that was settled with an astronomical economic settlement.
All the children of Isabel II have accompanied the coffin from the palace to the cathedral, both located on the Royal Mile and separated by 1.2 kilometers. “I think they’re coming,” warns Mark, a 52-year-old from Edinburgh, on the section open to the public closest to Holyrood, the official residence of the monarchy in Scotland. “That’s the good thing about being tall,” he adds. He lives 25 minutes from downtown and has come walking. He has come alone: “My family and friends are not especially monarchists. Me, the truth is that not much, but with the Queen… I don’t know, I was born with her”. Next, he affirms that he does not profess the same affection for Carlos III: “I don’t care a bit.”
The funeral procession of the monarch —escorted by royal security personnel and by police on horseback— had left Holyrood after 2:30 p.m. (one hour less in mainland Spain) and barely 15 minutes later it crossed the Canongate, as the eastern part of the Royal Mile. In this section, in the middle of the route, the solemn silence is interrupted by an almost unintelligible cry: “Oh, no. there is that garbage antiroyals”, a woman complains sourly. The anti-monarchist cries of a young man were quickly overshadowed by a wave of salvos: “God save the King! (God save the king)”. Thus, his followers chanted up to five times, who also shook the young man and expelled him from the street. During the day, at least two people were arrested accused of “breaking the peace” of the event, according to the Police.
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At a slow pace, the procession approached Edinburgh Cathedral, where a private service was to take place that was attended by the British Prime Minister, Lizz Truss. Later, Carlos III went to see the chief minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon, to later return to the temple and pay tribute to his mother at the vigil, in an emotional act in which each of the four children of Elizabeth II has located next to the coffin. The vigil will be open to the public until Tuesday, when the Queen’s body will be transferred to London to continue with the funeral.
“The truth is that he died in Scotland,” says Flora Gemmel. “It means a lot to me and I think to the Scots as well; if it had happened in London, none of this would have happened”, adds the lady. “We are also going to London,” reveals her daughter Lindsay. Now, the woman awaits the huge line of people who long to enter Saint Giles and see with their own eyes the coffin of Elizabeth II. The Unicorn operation, the protocol applied because the Queen has died in Scotland, estimated that some 80,000 people would attend the vigil of Elizabeth II. According to the calculations of the authorities, if at 20.00 (Scottish time) someone was placed in line to see the coffin of Elizabeth II, it would take more than eight hours to reach the door of Saint Giles. “Hopefully we can get in. Hopefully all of us here can,” Lindsay continues, “because that’s what we’ve come for: to say goodbye to our Queen.”
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