Queen Elizabeth II dies: Thousands watch history unfold in Edinburgh's Royal Mile as the Queen's coffin travels to St Giles

It had all the makings of a day that will go down in the history books.

Crowds lining the street, some holding special messages and flowers. Residents hanging out of top floor windows, determined to get the best views of the goings-on down below.

And mothers carrying their newborn babies, who would never remember being there but for years to come would have photos and stories to prove that they were.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

They all gathered on Edinburgh’s Royal Mile to watch - and be part of - Queen Elizabeth’s final journey through the country and city she loved.

King Charles III, the Princess Royal, the Duke of York and the Earl of Wessex walk behind Queen Elizabeth II's coffin during the procession from the Palace of Holyroodhouse to St Giles' Cathedral, Edinburgh.

As the mass of people waited in the sunshine for something to start happening, many complained of being uncomfortable and frustrated.

Those who had been there a long time said their feet were hurting. Some were hungry and thirsty but unable to get anywhere near a cafe or shop. Others grumbled that they had got caught up in the impenetrable crowds and been made to take lengthy detours while simply trying to make their way home or to work.

But as the coffin, draped in the Royal Banner of Scotland and topped with a wreath, came into view, the thousands standing there fell silent.

Walking behind was King Charles III who had arrived in the city just hours before. He stood side by side with Prince Edward, Prince Andrew and Princess Anne. The Queen Consort also followed behind in a car.

Some elderly people near the front wiped tears from their eyes. Children watched on, eyes wide and mouths open. And everyone’s heads turned slowly from left to right, transfixed as the hearse passed in front of them.

One pensioner, who had travelled to the city with her sister, was surprised at how emotional she was.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“I wanted to come here to see it. She has been our Queen for so long and I wanted to pay my respects,” she said. “I didn’t think I’d get upset but when I saw the coffin and her children, I just couldn’t hold it in. It really hits home.”

A man, who had been staying in Edinburgh on holiday, added that he was pleased to have seen the historic event unfold.

“If I wasn’t here, I’d obviously have watched it on television or seen parts of it on the news or on social media. But I don’t think any of those would really convey what happened here today,” he said. “The feeling of being here among the crowds watching it all happen in front of us is a totally different thing altogether.”

Phones were sent into the sky; a reminder that this was very much history in the making 21st century-style. Tablets were tasked with capturing the moment, the famous faces and the crowds on video or photographs which were then sent to family members and friends across the globe to show that their owners were there on the day the Queen came to Edinburgh one last time.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“It doesn’t feel like how you’d imagine it,” said a student. “In the moment, it feels more or less like a normal day. But it’s funny to think that one day I could be watching footage of this with my children or grandchildren and they’ll probably be amazed when I say I was there watching it all happen.”