The body of Elizabeth II left Balmoral Castle on Sunday morning, after 10:00 (one more hour in mainland Spain), where she died on September 8. She was on her way to Edinburgh, by road, in a rolling entourage led by the coffin of the monarch, fully visible, covered by a transparent structure. As she passed through some northern towns – she made stops in Ballater, Aberdeen and Dundee – heartfelt tears and the color black accompanied the procession with more emphasis than in a big city like Edinburgh. “It’s a cosmopolitan capital and not especially monarchical,” says Brigitte Shaun, a 36-year-old producer. “In fact, I get the feeling that people are living differently here, more relaxed, than what is happening in London,” continues the woman. Although on the Royal Mile ―in the heart of the old town and where iconic monuments related to royalty follow one another: Edinburgh Castle, San Gil Cathedral and the Palace of Holyroodhouse―, thousands of people gathered; hours earlier, in the morning, the acclamation of Charles III aroused less interest and, unlike the consensus generated by the monarchy in Abeerdenshire, further north, there were some boos as well as timid calls for the republic.
The road between Balmoral and Edinburgh takes about two and a half hours; However, the funeral procession – made up of seven vehicles, in one of which Princess Anne and her husband were travelling – had planned to travel more than 280 kilometers in about six hours, because as they passed through some towns they slowed down so that the citizens bid a final farewell to the queen. If on the previous day, in the surroundings of Balmoral, mourning was felt ―and the frustration of numerous people who could not approach the castle gate―; in Edinburgh, guarded by the Scottish Police, civil protection agents, as well as snipers stationed on some balconies, and numerous police vans, the atmosphere was more relaxed, with a more diverse public, and it was not necessary to control the capacity; There were only slight crowds shortly before the procession arrived, and they entered Holyrood, to applause, at 4:30 p.m., somewhat later than expected.
Graham Brown, 57, had been on the Royal Mile early with his dogs and family. He wanted to find the appropriate place to see off the monarch; the closer to Holyrood the better. At his feet rest three of his 15 corgis, Elizabeth II’s favorite breed of dog. He points to Winnie, the animal matriarch: “One of her sisters was chosen by the queen to be part of her canine entourage,” he says with obvious pride. “He chose her shortly before he died, so he spent some time with her,” he continues: “I brought them from her to pay tribute to her.” Hearing this, a woman excitedly puts her hands on her chest and asks her to take a picture of her. Among the walkers you can see quite a lot of tartan and some kilt. And a woman in mourning, veil included.
Meanwhile, on the other bank of the Water of Leith, the city has a different rhythm. Walkers, tourists, street musicians and people lying on the grass enjoy the sunny day. In Princes Street, one of its main commercial avenues, the face of Elizabeth II upholstered all the bus shelters the day after her death, but not the day she arrived in the Scottish capital: she had been replaced by a ubiquitous Natalie Portman in a Dior ad.
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“[Es] A sad and moving moment as Her Majesty the Queen leaves her beloved Balmoral for the last time,” Nicola Sturgeon, the country’s chief minister, wrote on Twitter as the procession began its journey: “Today she travels to Edinburgh and Scotland pays tribute to an extraordinary woman. ”.
A sad and poignant moment as Her Majesty, The Queen leaves her beloved Balmoral for the final time.
Today, as she makes her journey to Edinburgh, Scotland will pay tribute to an extraordinary woman. https://t.co/pZ6uMoqfOn
— Nicola Sturgeon (@NicolaSturgeon) September 11, 2022
These rites are celebrated in the Highlands in compliance with the so-called Operation Unicorn, the planned plan in case the monarch died in Scotland, as it has finally happened. Following protocol, her body must pass through Holyrood – a palace built at the beginning of the 16th century and linked to the monarchy ever since, although it became more important later – and rest in the Throne Room (Throne Room). The following day, Monday, the body of the monarch, accompanied by a solemn procession with members of her family, including the current king, will be transferred to the San Gil Cathedral. There they will guard it for two days, until Tuesday, the members of the Royal Company of Archers, an institution founded in the 17th century, so that the Scots can come to say goodbye. Finally, he will travel to London, where the funeral continues until the day of her funeral, on September 19, as confirmed by Buckingham Palace. Carlos III has declared that day a national holiday. However, the day of the procession to San Gil will not be festive in Scotland.
“She’s not my queen,” says Patrick, 49, of Dundee. He is going to skip all the celebrations. Although it is Sunday, he has to work, he is a tow truck driver and he considers that “the last queen of Scotland was Mary I”. “She was murdered by the English,” he adds. He also denies Carlos III and his face lights up when he talks about the referendum that Sturgeon has proposed for October 2023: “she is going to come out yes”. In the antipodes to the driver is Paul Hianught, 38, who has traveled by public transport from Fife, almost two hours away, with some members of his family: “I come to see my queen.” he wears a glengarry (traditional Scottish cap), a belt with the Windsor emblem superimposed on the Scottish flag and a nearly finished bottle of rosé wine in hand. “I served in the Army for seven years: I was in Iraq and Afghanistan,” he recounts swollen.
Nuria Rodríguez, 33, from Barcelona, has been living in Edinburgh since 2020. She works at Barbour, one of the favorite firms of British royalty and accredited for it. At least until now. “The royal house allows brands that are used by the monarchy to use shields,” she explains. She adds that it can only be applied when there is an obvious link: “The Windsor Christmas card looks like an advertisement for us.” “Until now, we had three coats of arms: Elizabeth II, Philip of Edinburgh and Charles. We remove the one from the Duke [tras su muerte] and now we are going to remove the one from the queen; we only have the one of the current monarch”, he says. The firm, founded in 1894, has given four days off to its employees, from Friday to Monday. “And we’ve been told that jackets have to be worn to adjust the tags,” he adds. “I am not a monarchist and I get the feeling that these people [los escoceses] not so much”, says Raquel Martín, 53 years old. From Pontevedra, she has made a getaway to Edinburgh with her partner, Mario Villanueva, 57: “And we have found this core.” On Friday they were walking around the city and noticed that not all the flags were lowered to half-staff. “Besides, yesterday [por el sábado] we left pubs and in one of them there was a group of four or five guys, with several beers too many, who were saying: ‘Fuck the King!‘ [¡Que le den al rey!]”, adds Villanueva.