DAILY MAIL COMMENT: Nation comes together for Queen's last journey
DAILY MAIL COMMENT: Nation comes together for Queen’s last journey
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Queen Elizabeth II’s poignant final journey has begun.
Draped in the Royal Standard of Scotland, her coffin was driven from Balmoral to Holyrood yesterday, and will have travelled almost the entire length of the country by the time of her interment at Windsor next Monday.
It is perhaps fitting that she should have died at her beloved Highland home, having inherited Scottish blood from both sides of her family.
Had she died in England, her people north of the border would not have had the opportunity to say their last farewells in person.
As it is, hundreds of thousands lined the route from Balmoral to bear witness and many more will watch her coffin process along Edinburgh’s Royal Mile to St Giles’ Cathedral, with the new King and other senior royals following on foot.
Queen Elizabeth II’s poignant final journey has begun. Draped in the Royal Standard of Scotland, her coffin was driven from Balmoral to Holyrood yesterday, and will have travelled almost the entire length of the country by the time of her interment at Windsor next Monday
For 24 hours, the Scottish public will be invited to file past the late Queen’s body in respect and condolence as it lies in state inside the cathedral, before being flown back to London tomorrow.
The sheer scale of this ceremonial is a potent reminder that the monarchy binds together this United Kingdom, in defiance of those who seek, for crude political motives, to break it up.
King Charles will also show his passionate commitment to the UK’s other constituent peoples by visiting them during the mourning period.
While his mother’s body lies in state at Westminster Hall, he will attend formal services in Northern Ireland and Wales, accompanied by the Prime Minister.
One positive effect of the Queen’s death is that it seems to have inspired a new spirit of reconciliation within her family, with estranged brothers William and Harry coming together with their wives for a surprise walkabout among the crowds at Windsor.
Their grandmother was known to be distressed and disappointed by Harry and Meghan’s decision to turn their backs on royal life and Charles made a point in his inaugural address as King of saying his own love for them was undiminished.
As it is, hundreds of thousands lined the route from Balmoral to bear witness and many more will watch her coffin process along Edinburgh’s Royal Mile to St Giles’ Cathedral, with the new King and other senior royals following on foot
It shows William and Kate’s character and dedication to family unity that they were able to extend the couple an olive branch, despite no doubt feeling they have been traduced by them.
How lasting this rapprochement will prove to be – and whether it will survive Harry’s forthcoming ‘tell-all’ book or the next instalment of Meghan’s self-serving podcast – remains to be seen.
For the late Queen’s sake, let’s hope some semblance of civility can be salvaged from the ashes of their relationship.
Meanwhile, frantic preparations are under way for what will be the biggest and most highly charged formal occasion of the century – the state funeral.
It will showcase the history, pomp and pageantry that this country is famed for above any other on Earth.
Rehearsals are being staged, valedictories polished, gun carriages buffed to gleaming, military escorts drilled and drilled again.
Few would envy the Duke of Norfolk, the man in overall charge of arrangements. But as his ancestors have been overseeing royal funerals, coronations and state openings of Parliament for more than 350 years, he was born to the role.
Democrat or despot, republican or royal, world leaders past and present will be scrambling to secure one of the 2,000 places in Westminster Abbey.
They know that to be included in this unparalleled event will be a sign of stature on the world stage, as well as a unique privilege.
Some like to tell us the monarchy is a faded, anachronistic institution. The thronging crowds at home and global fascination with the royal succession suggests they couldn’t be more wrong.
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