A kilted King Charles III, his brothers, Princes Andrew and Edward, and his sister, Princess Anne, bowed their heads in silence as they stood vigil by the casket of their late mother Queen Elizabeth II at St. Giles’ Cathedral in Edinburgh on Monday.
The queen, who died Thursday after a record 70-plus years on the throne, will lie at rest until 3 p.m. Tuesday, when the casket begins its final journey to London. The cathedral will remain open through the night as the crowds pass as the United Kingdom settled in for the traditional 10-day mourning period.
Charles, Anne, and Edward each wore uniforms reflecting their military affiliations as leading members of the Royal Family. Andrew was stripped of his military titles in January after he settled a sexual abuse lawsuit and wore a simple morning coat with a brace of medals on his chest.
After standing by the remains of the 96-year-old queen, the siblings departed while thousands of Scots continued to pass by to pay their respects. Initial visitors walked past the royals during the 10 minutes the quartet stood with their backs towards the casket, a ritual inaugurated by King Edward VII at the death of King George V.
The coffin itself rested atop a wooden stand with the golden Crown of Scotland perched atop a crown encrusted with 22 gems and 20 precious stones along with freshwater pearls from Scotland’s rivers, the Associated Press reported.
Charles’ elder son William and wife Catherine, now the Prince and Princess of Wales, will be at Buckingham Palace alongside the king and the queen consort when the coffin arrives. The coffin will rest in the palace’s Bow Room before it travels to Westminster Hall to lie in state.
As Britain deals with its grief and the long, complicated legacy of Elizabeth’s reign, there was no end of striking scenes to mark the passing of a beloved royal.
Earlier the royals walked silently behind the black Mercedes Benz hearse being the flag-draped oak casket during its 1.1-mile trek from Holyrood Palace to the cathedral. Crowds estimated at ten-deep lined the historic Royal Mile between the two sites. Most onlookers were respectful, though one heckler broke through the silence to yell “sick old man” at Prince Andrew. The protester was caught on video being taken away by police after a brief scuffle.
Most onlookers in Edinburgh were respectful, as evidenced by the long line of people who gathered to honor a woman who was queen of the United Kingdom, and who was called “Queen of Scots” by Alison Johnstone, presiding officer of the Scottish Parliament. Sky News reporter James Matthews told viewers the queue of mourners extended more than a mile from the cathedral’s door.
“I just wanted to be here, just to show … last respects. I cannot believe she is dead,” Marilyn Mclear, a 70-year-old retired teacher, told the AP. “I know she was 96, but I just cannot believe the queen’s dead.”
The vigil and public viewing capped a day in which the legislators received Charles and Camilla, the queen consort, where they heard a condolence message. The king responded, “I take up my new duties with thankfulness for all that Scotland has given me, with resolve to seek always the welfare of our country and its people and with wholehearted trust in your goodwill and good counsel as we take forward that task together.”
Charles thanked the Scottish people — who only a few years ago narrowly voted down a resolution to leave the United Kingdom — for the “true affection” they’d shown the queen, who annually spent several months at Balmoral Castle, where she passed away.
He also pointedly quoted Scotland’s most famous bard: “If I might paraphrase the words of the great Robert Burns, my dear mother was ‘The friend of man, the friend of truth; The friend of Age, and guide of Youth: Few hearts like his with virtue warm’d, Few heads with knowledge so inform’d’.”
The official mourning period for the queen will end with the funeral Monday, Sept. 19, which is expected to draw a massive global audience.
— This article was based in part on wire-service reports.