Live briefing: Queen Elizabeth II’s coffin arrives in Edinburgh in first leg of ceremonial journey

Queen Elizabeth II’s coffin travelled from the royal family's home at Balmoral Castle to the Scottish capital of Edinburgh on Sept. 11. (Video: The Washington Post)
8 min

LONDON — A procession bringing Queen Elizabeth II’s coffin from the royal family’s holiday home Balmoral Castle to the Scottish capital Edinburgh begins the first leg of a days-long ceremonial journey. Enormous crowds paid their respects, lining up along the six-hour journey to bring the coffin to the Throne Room of the Palace of Holyroodhouse, the official residence of the British monarch in Scotland. The somber onlookers fell silent or broke out into scattered applause as the cortege passed. The procession’s first stop was in Ballater for a tribute event attended by officials including the queen’s representative in Aberdeenshire.

King Charles III was formally proclaimed as Britain’s new monarch in Edinburgh, and in Wales and Northern Ireland, after a similar announcement in London. The United Kingdom is in a period of national mourning until a state funeral, to be held on Sept. 19 at Westminster Abbey. The queen’s final resting place will be in Windsor, next to her husband, Prince Philip, who died in 2021 aged 99. William and Catherine, the new Prince and Princess of Wales, appeared alongside Prince Harry and his wife Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, to greet mourners at Windsor Castle, fueling speculation of a rapprochement between the brothers, whose relationship reportedly suffered after the latter couple stepped down from royal duties.

Key developments

  • After a roughly six-hour journey from Balmoral to Edinburgh, the queen’s coffin entered the Palace of Holyroodhouse in the Scottish capital. There, it was greeted by a ceremonial guard procession. It will remain there overnight and will be flown to London on Tuesday. The next day, she will lie at rest at the Palace of Westminster, the seat of Parliament, until her state funeral. President Biden told reporters that he plans to attend.
  • King Charles III arrived in Buckingham Palace, will hold meetings there on Sunday and will visit the U.K. Parliament on Monday. “I am deeply aware of this great inheritance and of the duties and heavy responsibilities of sovereignty which have now passed to me,” Charles said at the official proclamation ceremony. “I shall strive to follow the inspiring example I have been set.”
  • The new king and his wife, Queen Consort Camilla, will lead a procession with the late queen’s coffin on Monday, down Edinburgh’s Royal Mile to St. Giles’ Cathedral, where there will be a service. The public can view her coffin at the cathedral until Tuesday.

Happening today

All times are local, five hours ahead of Eastern time.

  • At 10 a.m., the queen’s coffin departed the Balmoral estate for Edinburgh. The hearse will travel south through Aberdeen and Dundee.
  • At 1 p.m., flags will return to half-staff for the remainder of the national mourning period, after they were flown at full-staff in recognition of the new monarch.
  • In the morning, Charles will meet the Commonwealth Secretary General at Buckingham Palace and then host the Realm High Commissioners and their spouses.

Global reaction

  • Speaking at the 9/11 memorial service at the Pentagon on Sunday, President Biden said, “I remember a message sent to the American people from Queen Elizabeth. It was on September 11. Her ambassador read a prayer service to St. Thomas Church in New York, where she poignantly reminded us, quote, grief is the price we pay for love.”
  • The prime minister of Antigua and Barbuda said he plans to hold a referendum on breaking with the monarchy and becoming a republic within three years. The nation is among the the last 14 outside of Britain that has the British monarch as head of state. Moments after signing in King Charles III as the new head of state, the Caribbean country’s prime minister Gaston Browne told ITV News on Saturday, “It does not represent any form of disrespect to the monarch. This is not an act of hostility ... It is a final step to complete the circle of independence to become a truly sovereign nation.”
  • Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has declared a national day of mourning for the queen. Sept. 22 will be a public holiday in the Commonwealth nation, where Elizabeth was head of state. Her death has spurred fresh debate about becoming a republic — replacing the monarch with a president — after a 1999 referendum saw a majority vote against the change, and brought about a reckoning on her complicated legacy for Indigenous Australians.
  • India’s government has also declared a national day of mourning on Sunday “as a mark of respect” to the queen. Flags will be flown at half-mast and “there will be no official entertainment” throughout the day, India’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
  • Pakistan’s prime minister announced a day of mourning for Monday.
  • Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the country’s Parliament will sit Thursday to allow lawmakers to pay tribute to Elizabeth. The opening of the legislature’s new session will be delayed by a day, to Sept. 20, to accommodate the queen’s state funeral.
  • New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern sent a formal condolence letter to Charles. “As Queen of New Zealand, Her Majesty was loved for her grace, calmness, dedication, and public service. Her affection for New Zealand and its people was clear, and it was an affection that was shared,” she wrote.
  • Hilary Clinton spoke of Elizabeth on CNN’s State of the Union on Sunday, calling her an “engaging and lively conversationalist. She asked great questions. She was interested in what was going on in the United States and elsewhere. Dame Karen Pierce, British ambassador to the United States, on the same program said the queen was “incredibly interested in American politics.” By convention, they don’t speak of what the queen says in their private audiences, but Pierce said, “She could not be more warm or better at putting people at their ease. I think everyone goes in very nervous ... she actually has a fantastic smile. And she has quite a mischievous sense of humor. At the same time, she has the most phenomenal memory.”

Your royal questions, answered

From our correspondents

After Elizabeth’s death, Britain’s future is uncertain. The queen’s death marks the end of the nation’s second Elizabethan age, and the beginning of the reign of the longest-ever monarch-in-waiting, Charles, who is less popular than his mother. In addition, regional tensions, higher energy costs and an untested new prime minister come at a time of national introspection. “Changes on the horizon have been brought into focus by the queen’s death. Whether welcome or not, they have created a disquiet in the country she led,” Kevin Sullivan and Anthony Faiola write.

More coverage:

  • What kind of monarch will Charles be? Different from his mum, London correspondents William Booth and Karla Adam write. As king, Charles has said he wants to balance tradition and progress. A crusader at heart, Charles has opinions — on climate change, sheep breeds and modern architecture. He may not be able to turn that off.
  • During her seven-decade reign, the queen visited more than two dozen cities across the United States. And wherever Britain’s longest-serving monarch went, photographers followed to capture Americans in the throes of royal fever.
  • Gift stores are selling out of royal souvenirs after Elizabeth’s death, a rush to buy items with her likeness before they are replaced with products featuring her son. The value of those tchotchkes and rare collectibles of the queen will increase — eventually.
  • It was a rare misstep in the queen’s 70-year reign. But it was a big one. Her son’s glamorous ex-wife, Princess Diana, had died tragically in a car accident, leaving two young boys, the heirs to the throne, without a mother. And for nearly a week, Elizabeth said nothing. But on the day of the funeral, as Diana’s funeral cortege passed by, she bowed her head.