AFP, published on Monday, September 12, 2022 at 9:28 pm.
Behind his casket as it slowly crossed Edinburgh or circled it, head bowed, King Charles III and his siblings gathered on Monday with Elizabeth II, joined by thousands of Britons as they bid farewell to monarch to worldwide popularity.
Another step in the moving final journey that took the sovereign from his Balmoral castle, where he breathed his last on Thursday, to London for his state funeral On Monday, his remains left the Palace of Holyroodhouse in the capital of Scottish for the cathedral of Saint-Gilles, where it was shown to the public for the first time.
The funeral procession, led by King Charles III flanked by his brothers Andrew and Edward and sister Anna, crossed the center of the Scottish capital towards Saint-Gilles Cathedral, during a slow procession of the full silence.
They walked the Royal Mile in rhythm for more than a mile, all dressed in black military uniforms except Andrew, who retired from the monarchy after sexual assault charges that he ended by paying millions -million dollars.
A particularity that confirms the exclusion of the one who is often described as the “favorite son” of Elizabeth II.
After a religious ceremony in the afternoon, the children of the sovereign returned in the evening for a funeral procession around the coffin, which was covered with the Scottish royal standard (yellow, red and navy blue), and where the crown was placed. in Scotland, which is solid. gold, as well as a crown of white flowers.
They meditated for about ten minutes, their backs turned to the casket, before leaving the cathedral to the applause of the crowd.
– “Grief” –
Four days after her death, a week before her funeral, the coffin of Elizabeth II, symbol of strength in decades of turmoil, icon of the planet that reassured the British in times of crisis, rested in first time to the public, which aroused a large crowd.
Police told AFP that 30,000 wristbands, the key to enter the cathedral, had been distributed. Some queues stretched over 1.5 kilometers, according to an AFP reporter.
The population can thus bow a few meters away and behind a security cordon in front of the oak coffin, raised on a platform, under the supervision of four archers from the Royal Company and a dozen police officers.
Some unknown people signed themselves in front of the body, others bowed. Sometimes tears flowed down their faces.
To the public who went to see the convoy pass, Lorraine Logan, 60, who arrived with her folding seat, explained that she arrived in the morning to sit in the second row: “It is even more sad than my thought”.
“It was unbelievable to see the king and absolutely surreal to see the parade of the queen’s coffin in Edinburgh, it was a moment that will go down in history,” commented John McMonagle, 52, in a black suit, from Glasgow.
– “Weight of History” –
Charles III installed himself as monarch with the difficult task of succeeding his very popular mother in the context of a severe social crisis and division in the United Kingdom, but also in conflict in the face of colonialism in his past 14 other kingdoms.
He coped at the age of 73, older than all the British sovereigns when they came to the throne.
Charles III went to the Scottish Parliament on Monday afternoon for a condolence session and for the occasion exchanged his black military costume for a burgundy kilt, an outfit he had always loved.
This day marks the beginning of a tour of the four constituent countries of the United Kingdom, which will take him to Belfast and Cardiff and which he began Monday morning at the British Parliament in London.
“Standing before you today, I cannot help but feel the weight of history that surrounds us,” said the sovereign.
He admitted that his mother “is an example of devotion which, with God’s help and your guidance, I am determined to follow faithfully”.
Elizabeth II has remained throughout her 70-year reign a head of state with impeccable neutrality, fulfilling never to publicly express her opinions on her constitutional duties, opening Parliament, promulgating the law, validating appointments, and still sitting on the throne, two days before dying at the age of 96. , his 15th head of government.
Withdrawn from the monarchy since the resounding “Megxit”, Prince Harry joined the tributes to Elizabeth II, whom he called “compass”, thanking his “grandmother” for her sense of duty and her “infectious smile “: “It’s you. miss you so much”.
– Waiting lines –
After this first day of presentation to the population, the remains will be taken on Tuesday night at Edinburgh airport on a royal plane to London.
It will again be on public display 24 hours a day, enclosed, wrapped in the royal standard, on a dais in the Palace of Westminster from Wednesday evening.
Long queues – which can reach eight kilometers – are expected as 750,000 people try to see the coffin, according to The Times newspaper.
Elizabeth II’s remains will remain in Parliament for five days before the state funeral. About 500 foreign dignitaries are expected – a huge security challenge for the police – including US President Joe Biden, his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron, as well as many crowned heads.
The day before the event, on Sunday, the public will be called to mark a minute of silence at 8:00 pm (7:00 pm GMT), “a moment of reflection” to remember the sovereign who has unparalleled which is longest in the history of the United Kingdom.