The late Queen Elizabeth II’s coffin arrived in the Scottish capital of Edinburgh on Sunday after traveling six hours by car from Balmoral Castle, the first leg of the journey to bring the queen home to London for her funeral, part of a long-standing plan that was triggered when she died at her property in Scotland Thursday.
Thousands of people turned up along the route from Balmoral to Edinburgh in cities like Ballater, Aberdeen and Dundee on Sunday to watch the motorcade go by, as the queen left the Scottish countryside for the last time.
The coffin will lie in rest for one day at Holyroodhouse, the monarchy’s official Scottish residence and its smallest palace, before being carried up Edinburgh's famous Royal Mile on Monday for a service at St. Giles’ Cathedral followed by a viewing for the public to pay their respects that will last into the following afternoon.
On Tuesday, the queen’s coffin will be flown home to London on a Royal Air Force aircraft from Edinburgh Airport to RAF Northolt, a military base just outside London, before traveling to Buckingham Palace.
The coffin will be taken by procession on Wednesday to Westminster Hall in the Palace of Westminster, the oldest surviving section of where Parliament meets, where starting Thursday it will lie in state for four days as members of the public pay their respects.
The following Monday, the coffin will be taken to nearby Westminster Abbey for the state funeral, expected to be attended by hundreds of foreign officials and royals that will also mark a bank holiday off work across Britain.
Following the funeral, a procession will take the coffin from Westminster Abbey to Wellington Arch before heading to Windsor Castle, where the queen will be buried in St. George’s Chapel in a crypt alongside her late father, King George VI, the Queen Mother and her sister, Princess Margaret (the queen’s late husband, Prince Philip, will reportedly be moved from another vault in the church to join her).
Queen Elizabeth’s death—and the rise of her eldest son, the new King Charles III—left the United Kingdom with a new monarch for the first time in seven decades. A series of contingency plans for the queen’s death were reportedly first internally introduced in the royal household in the 1960’s, laying out a tentative guide for how to proceed. A viral piece published in The Guardian in 2017 last year shed light on the specific plans to be put into motion if the queen were to die at Balmoral Castle in Scotland, the royal family’s Highlands holiday home where the queen would spend several weeks each summer, a situation that became reality last week. Documents obtained by Politico last year showed that a plan titled “Operation Unicorn” would have gone into effect if the queen’s casket were to be taken from Scotland back to England by train, while the plan that appears to have been taken was known as “Operation Overstudy,” which dictates the coffin will be flown to London. The preparations for Elizabeth’s death may have been reworked since the documents were obtained by Politico last year.
King Charles III will hold his first audience as king with Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon on Monday after the service at St Giles’ Cathedral. Sturgeon is the leader of the Scottish National Party, which supports Scotland exiting the United Kingdom after 315 years and becoming independent. There has been speculation that the death of the queen could serve as an impetus for independence. In May, a poll found one in three people in Scotland said the queen’s death would be a good time to abolish the monarchy, compared to only one-fourth of British people overall. Sturgeon has argued that the U.K.’s decision to leave the European Union—which the majority of Scottish people voted against—could justify another independence referendum, following a 2014 vote in which 55% of Scottish voters cast a ballot against independence. The new Prime Minister Liz Truss previously said she will “never ever let our family be split up,” when asked about Scotland leaving the U.K.
‘Operation London Bridge’: Inside Plans For Queen Elizabeth’s Death And Funeral (Forbes)
Britain’s plan for when Queen Elizabeth II dies (Politico)
'London Bridge is down': the secret plan for the days after the Queen’s death (The Guardian)
I am a Texas native covering breaking news out of New York City. I was previously an editorial assistant at the Forbes London bureau.
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