September 26, 2022

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People gather in front of Elizabeth II's coffin in Edinburgh

People gather in front of Elizabeth II’s coffin in Edinburgh

Edinburgh | For the first time since Elizabeth II’s death, Britons were able to meditate, sometimes tearfully, on Monday at her coffin, which was unveiled at St-Gilles Cathedral in Edinburgh at the start of a week of farewells to the monarch.

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A new leg of the sovereign’s last journey until his funeral in London next Monday, the funeral procession led by Charles III, flanked by his brothers and sisters, passed through Edinburgh and arrived at the cathedral in a slow procession of complete silence.

Charles III, Princes Andrew and Edward and Princess Anne followed the hearse through the streets carrying the remains of Elizabeth II, who spent the night at the Palace of Holyroodhouse, the Queen’s official residence in Scotland. Scottish capital.

They marched in rhythm for more than a mile through the Old City, all in black military uniforms except for Andrew, who stepped down from the monarchy following sexual assault allegations that ended with him paying millions of dollars.

A distinction that confirms the marginalization of what is often called Elizabeth II’s “favorite son.”

After a religious ceremony, the coffin is draped with the royal Scottish standard (yellow, red and navy blue), and the Crown of Scotland, set in solid gold, as well as a crown of white flowers, are now on display. 24 hours at the cathedral, before leaving for London, attracted huge crowds.

Police told AFP that 30,000 wristbands, keys to enter the cathedral, had already been distributed. The queue stretched for more than 1.5 kilometers, an AFP reporter said.

Under the supervision of four archers from the Royal Company and a dozen police officers, people can bow in front of an oak coffin raised on a platform, several meters away and behind a security ring.

Some Anonymous signed before the body, while others bowed. Sometimes tears streamed down their faces.

“Slice of History”

Four days after Elizabeth II died in her Scottish castle of Balmoral and a week before her funeral, emotion remains strong in the United Kingdom, with large numbers of members of the public attending the popular sovereign’s final journey.

Elizabeth II, a symbol of stability during decades of upheaval, a planetary symbol of reassurance to the British in times of crisis, is on display in the cathedral 24 hours a day, enjoying exceptional popularity.

“I’ll stay as long as I need to,” Scotsman Sam Whitten, who stood in a long queue to see the coffin, told AFP. According to him, the Queen represented “a piece of history”.

Lorraine Logan, 60, who arrived with her folding seat in the second row of the public to watch the convoy pass, explains: “It was sadder than I thought”.

“It was incredible to see the King and it was absolutely amazing to see the Queen’s coffin march through Edinburgh, a moment that will go down in history,” commented John McMonagle, 52, in a dark suit from Glasgow.

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“The Weight of History”

Charles III is establishing himself as king with the difficult task of succeeding his most famous mother against a backdrop of severe social crisis and division in the United Kingdom, but also in his other 14 kingdoms, a rivalry in the face of a colonial past.

He was 73 years old, the oldest of all British sovereigns to have ascended the throne.

Charles III visited the Scottish Parliament on Monday afternoon for a sitting of mourning, and for the occasion he swapped his black military uniform for a burgundy kilt, an outfit he has always loved.

The day marks the start of a four-nation tour of the United Kingdom that will take him to Belfast and Cardiff and which he kicked off at the British Parliament in London on Monday morning.

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

He said that his mother was “an example of piety which, with God’s help and your guidance, I have resolved to faithfully follow.”

During her 70-year reign, Elizabeth II remained head of state with unimpeachable neutrality, performing her constitutional functions, opening parliament, promulgating laws, confirming appointments and not yet expressing her opinions publicly while sitting on the throne, two days before her death at the age of 96. , his 15th head of government.

Leaving the monarchy since “Mexit”, Prince Harry joined the tribute of Elizabeth II, calling her “compass”, her “grandmother” sense of duty and her “infectious smile”: “You are already” I miss so much”.

Waiting lines

After this first day of public offerings, the remains will be taken to Edinburgh Airport on Tuesday evening for a royal flight to London.

It will be on public display 24 hours a day from Wednesday evening on the stage of the Palace of Westminster, draped with royal standards.

Long queues – expected to reach eight kilometers – are expected to see 750,000 people try to see the coffin. The Times.

Elizabeth II’s remains will lie in Parliament for five days before a state funeral. About 500 foreign dignitaries are expected – a significant security challenge for police – including US President Joe Biden, his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron and several crowned heads of state.

The day before the event, on Sunday, the public will be invited to observe a minute’s silence at 8pm for a “moment of reflection” in honor of the UK’s longest-lived sovereign.