The departure of Queen Elizabeth II's oak casket from Balmoral Castle, where a flag flew at half-mast, marks the start of an odyssey of national mourning

The coffin of Queen Elizabeth leaves Balmoral Castle for her final journey to London.

The departure of the oak coffin of Queen Elizabeth II from Balmoral Castle, where the flag flew at half-mast, marks the beginning of a national mourning odyssey – Copyright AFP Aamir QURESHI

Queen Elizabeth’s coffin was flown from her summer home in the Scottish Highlands to Edinburgh on Sunday, past tens of thousands of mourners lining the road to pay their respects, many in grim silence, some applauding and others with tears in their eyes.

Queen Elizabeth left her favorite summer estate, Balmoral Castle, today as her casket left in a six-hour procession to Edinburgh. The late queen’s coffin was draped in Royal Standard of Scotlandd and surmounted by a wreath of flowers from the estate, including sweet pea, one of the queen’s favorite flowers.

The oak coffin was carried from the castle ballroom to a waiting hearse by six gamekeepers from Balmoral Manor, where the Queen spent her summer holidays.

Tuple from Balmoral is the first of a series of events leading up to a state funeral at Westminster Abbey in London on 19 September. The six-hour route the procession travels, some 175 miles, is not the fastest way to get to Edinburgh, its first destination. . It was chosen because it passes through Aberdeen, Dundee and Perth, giving many people the opportunity to pay their respects.

When the hearse reached a small neighboring village of Ballater near Balmoral, hundreds of people stood silently by the road in the bright morning sun as the hearse passed, some throwing flowers on the road.

“It’s just really, really sad. I’m happy I was here to say goodbye,” said Elizabeth Alexander, 69, who was born on the day of the coronation of the queen in 1953.

“I think she has always been a constant in my life. She was the queen I was born under and she was always there,” said Angus Ruthven, a 54-year-old civil servant from Edinburgh, as he waited for the coffin to arrive.

“I think it will take a long time to adjust to her not being here. This is a pretty sudden thing. We knew she was getting weaker, but it would be a good reign for King Charles,” he predicted.

Before reaching the Scottish capital, the cortege drove through what is actually alley of royal memory – passing through locations filled with the history of the House of Windsor. Among them are Dyce, where the Queen officially opened Britain’s first oil pipeline in the North Sea in 1975, and Fife, near the University of St. Andrews, where her grandson Prince William, now the Prince of Wales, studied and met his future wife Catherine.

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