Huge crowds have descended upon Edinburgh’s Royal Mile today as thousands of mourners head to the Scottish capital to pay their respects to Queen Elizabeth II.
Queues of wellwishers were pictured lining up with flags bearing the Union Jack and colourful homemade signs outside St Giles’ Cathedral as the sun’s first light began to break through the morning clouds on Monday.
Two primary schools and an early learning centre in the Old Town area of Edinburgh were today closed as thousands are expected to line up for the first chance to pay their last respects to the Queen’s flag-draped casket and city officials warned of significant disruption ahead of the proceedings.
The Queen’s oak coffin will take a circuitous journey back to Edinburgh. On Monday, it will be taken from Holyroodhouse to nearby St. Giles’ Cathedral, where it will remain until Tuesday, when it will be flown to London ahead of the state funeral.
King Charles III will walk behind his mother’s coffin in a sombre afternoon procession leading from Holyroodhouse palace – where it arrived on Sunday after making a six-hour road journey from Balmoral Castle – to the cathedral.
The King will be flanked by soldiers as they proceed down the historic Royal Mile, before arriving at the 12th century grey stone cathedral, where it will be topped with the Crown of Scotland and remain for 24 hours.
Inside St Giles’ Cathedral, senior royals, the new monarch and a congregation drawn from all areas of Scottish society will attend a service of thanksgiving that pays powerful tribute to the Queen’s extraordinary life.
It comes as heavily armed police and security services yesterday formed rings of steel outside the Palace of Holyroodhouse and St Giles’ Cathedral – as up to 10,000 officers prepare to be involved in the biggest single security operation the country has ever seen.
Specialist police teams and intelligence officers are understood to have cancelled holiday leave as part of a massive, cross-agency security task for the Queen’s funeral.
Hundreds of foreign dignitaries from across the globe and hundreds of thousands of mourners are anticipated in the capital are set to create an unprecedented ‘security headache’.
The operation will ramp up throughout the week as the Queen’s body is flown back to London before she is set to lie in state at the Palace of Westminster.
Huge crowds have descended upon Edinburgh ‘s Royal Mile today as thousands of mourners head to the Scottish capital to pay their respects to Queen Elizabeth II
Hundreds of mourners line Edinburgh’s Royal Mile on Monday as they wait for the royal procession to pass as it heads towards St Giles’ Cathedral, where the Queen’s coffin will stay for 24 hours
Specialist police teams and intelligence officers are understood to have cancelled holiday leave as part of a massive, cross-agency security task for the Queen’s funeral. Pictured: Police Scotland officers are pictured on Royal Mile on Monday
Inside St Giles’ Cathedral (pictured), senior royals, the new monarch and a congregation drawn from all areas of Scottish society will attend a service of thanksgiving that pays powerful tribute to the Queen’s extraordinary life
Mourners and wellwishers reportedly camped overnight as they wait outside St Giles’ Cathedral in Edinburgh and will pay their respects to the Queen on Monday
Two police snipers are pictured monitoring the crowds on Edinburgh’s Royal Mile on Monday ahead of Queen Elizabeth II’s coffin being transferred to St Giles’ Cathedral
Crowds have descended on Edinburgh’s Royal Mile today as thousands head to the Scottish capital to pay their respects to Queen Elizabeth II
A man arrives at St Giles’ Cathedral with his dog as he will join thousands of mourners in paying their last respects to the Queen
Queues of mourners were pictured lining up with flags bearing the Union Jack and colourful homemade signs outside St Giles’ Cathedral as the sun’s first light began to break through the morning clouds on Monday
A police officer stands guard outside the front doors to St Giles’ Cathedral, where thousands are expected to descend later today ahead of the procession of Queen Elizabeth II’s coffin from Holyroodhouse
Thousands are expected to line up for the chance to pay their respects to the Queen’s flag-draped casket a week ahead of her state funeral in London
Police officers stand guard on Edinburgh’s Royal Mile as mourners prepare to flock to the Scottish capital to pay their respects to Queen Elizabeth II
Pallbearers, one with his eyes closed another looking to the sky, carry the coffin of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth as the hearse arrives at the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh
Families with children took up places along the historic route that the Queen’s coffin will take from Holyrood Palace and St Giles Cathedral this afternoon.
Among them were two friends who had traveled to Edinburgh overnight to witness this ‘important historical event’.
Travel agent Marisa Ippolito, 61, from Manchester, told MailOnline: ‘I came here to pay my respects and to witness this important historical event. It is very sad but I wanted to be here and see it myself.
‘Also I believe that the Queen created this situation, of spending her final days in Scotland to preserve the Union.’
Her friend Karyn Ward added: ‘It’s fortune that the Queen passed away here in Scotland so the we Scots can show how much she mean to us.
‘So I’m here to celebrate this wonderful woman. And to be here across the road from St Giles Cathedral and see it all.’
Mother-of-two Caroline Jolly decided to take her son, Ryan, 13, and daughter Neve, 5, out of school so they could witness this historical event.
Caroline, from Lanarkshire, told MailOnline: ‘I felt compelled to come and be here. We’re only an hour away so I told the kids we’re going.
‘I want them to remembering this event and to be able to tell their children that they were here to pay their respects to the Queen.’
Edinburgh City Council leader Cammy Day told BBC Radio Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland programme the city was expecting large crowds on Monday.
He said: ‘We’re expecting tens of thousands of people to be up and down the High Street as Her Majesty comes up to St Giles’ and then onwards from there tomorrow.
‘Our advice to people is to get to the city centre as quickly and early as you can, use public transport because the city has diversions or road closures.
‘We are looking forward to welcoming tens of thousands of people to give Her Majesty the send off that the city will give her.’
He said the queue from St Giles’ Cathedral could potentially spiral back as far as The Meadows as people wait to pay their respects.
Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross said ‘the Queen loved Scotland and Scotland loved the Queen’.
He added that the strength of the connection between Scotland and the royal family was evident as people lined up to pay their respects as the Queen’s cortege passed through the nation on Sunday.
Asked if the connection is still there with the new King, Mr Ross told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘Yes, and I think particularly with the Accession Council making the point that the new King swore his allegiance to uphold and protect the Church of Scotland, the fact that the royal family are here today and there’ll be a service of thanksgiving at St Giles’, and then in the Scottish Parliament we will also be paying tribute to the late Queen and also pledging our allegiance and support to the new King and providing that support.’
He added: ‘The Queen loved Scotland and Scotland loved the Queen and I think we showed that yesterday.
‘I think we’ll see that again today with the service of thanksgiving and I think it is a fitting tribute to the late Queen that Scotland is able to play this role at this early part in the national mourning.’
The House of Commons and the House of Lords will today come together in Westminster for a Motion of Condolence, which the King will attend.
He will address MPs and peers for the first time as monarch, before flying to Edinburgh to attend Scottish Parliament later today.
At 12.45pm, the King and the Queen consort will arrive at Edinburgh Airport and travel to the Palace of Holyroodhouse where Charles III will inspect the Guard of Honour.
King Charles and the Queen Consort will then fly into the Scottish capital and travel to the palace to inspect a guard of honour. At 2.35pm, Charles and Camilla will join a procession to St Giles’ Cathedral 1,200 yards away.
The procession will consist of a hearse, flanked by the Bearer Party of the Royal Regiment of Scotland and the detachment of The King’s Body Guard in Scotland, the Royal Company of Archers.
The King and other senior members of the Royal Family will walk the 1,200 yard route on foot.
King Charles will be joined by his brothers, Prince Edward, the Earl of Wessex, and Prince Andrew, the Duke of York, his sister, the Princess Royal.
There is speculation that Prince William, Prince Harry and their wives Kate and Meghan will also be there after their shock reunion outside Windsor Castle on Saturday.
It is expected that her husband Vice Admiral Sir Tim Laurence will also join on foot – while the Queen Consort and other members of the monarchy will follow in cars. Once laid in St Giles’ Cathedral, the Crown of Scotland will be placed on the Queen’s coffin.
This afternoon, King Charles will hold audiences with leaders, and speak at the Scottish parliament. His journey will mark the start of tour of the nations.
At 7.20pm, the King and other family members will mount a vigil by the coffin.
Members of the public watch the hearse carrying the coffin of Queen Elizabeth II, draped in the Royal Standard of Scotland, as it is driven through Edinburgh yesterday
The Princess Royal curtseys as the coffin of Queen Elizabeth II, draped with the Royal Standard of Scotland, completes its journey from Balmoral to the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh
Prince Andrew, Duke of York views the flowers left by mourners outside Balmoral Castle on September 10
Today the Duke of York is expected to walk behind his mother’s coffin during a procession from the Palace of Holyroodhouse to St Giles’ Cathedral, Edinburgh, at 2.35pm. Pictured, the coffin arrives in Edinburgh yesterday
The Duke stands centre as he waves to members of the public after attending a service at Crathie Kirk church near Balmoral
Royal Parks bosses have asked mourners to stop leaving Paddington Bear and marmalade sandwich tributes in honour of the Queen – and to stick to unwrapped flowers instead. Pictured: floral tributes in Green Park today
The younger generations have been leaving Paddington Bears, Marmalade sandwiches and hand-drawn cards all over the country
People gathered in Edinburgh to pay tribute to Her Majesty as her cortege passed through the Scottish capital yesterday
Thousands of people turned out as her coffin was transported from Balmoral Castle to the Palace at Holyroodhouse on Sunday afternoon
King Charles III waving at well-wishers as he arrives at Buckingham Palace on Sunday afternoon
Vice Admiral Timothy Laurence, the Duke of York, the Princess Royal, the Countess of Wessex and the Earl of Wessex at the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh, awaiting the Queen’s coffin
How the service of thanksgiving for the Queen will unfold at Edinburgh’s historic St Giles’ Cathedral
The cathedral at the heart of Edinburgh’s historic Royal Mile will become the centre of tributes to the late Queen later on Monday.
The service at St Giles’ Cathedral, led by Reverend Calum MacLeod, is set to celebrate the life of the Queen and her connection to Scotland, and will be attended by the King and the Queen Consort.
The Queen’s coffin will be taken from the Palace of Holyroodhouse to the High Street cathedral where her family, and a congregation drawn from all areas of Scottish society, will attend the service of thanksgiving.
The King will lead some of the royals – expected to be the Duke of York, Earl of Wessex and the Princess Royal and her husband Vice Admiral Sir Tim Laurence – on foot while the Queen Consort and other members of the monarchy follow in cars.
Mourners are expected to hear a reading of Ecclesiastes from First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, as well as words from Nigerian student Samuel Nwokoro, the Right Reverend Dr Iain Greenshields, the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, and others.
As mourners enter the church, they will arrive to music sung by the Choir of St Giles’ Cathedral, conducted by the Master of the Music Michael Harris.
The organ will be played by Jordan English, assistant organist of St Giles’ Cathedral.
The service will end with the national anthem before the royal party leaves.
Members of the public will then be able to view the coffin to pay their respects for 24 hours before it is taken to London to lie in state.
Full details about the royal mourners have yet to be released but there is speculation the Duke and Duchess of Sussex and the new Prince and Princess of Wales, who on Saturday put on a united front during an appearance at Windsor Castle, will be part of the group.
The Queen will then lie at rest for 24 hours, with thousands expected to file past.
After leaving England and visiting Scotland, Charles will at some stage travel to the other countries of the UK – Wales and Northern Ireland – known as Operation Spring Tide.
The Queen’s oak coffin, draped with the Royal Standard of Scotland with a wreath of Balmoral flowers on top, began its journey from the Queen’s summer sanctuary in the Highlands and the first settlement it reached was Ballater.
She stayed overnight at the palace yesterday before being moved to St Giles’ Cathedral – where earlier a large crowd had gathered to witness the midday proclamation of King Charles as head of state.
Earlier in the day, a single motorbike police outrider led the way as the hearse travelled at a stately pace through the Aberdeenshire countryside.
At one point, as the cortege travelled through Dundee, a lone long-stemmed flower could be seen on the hearse windscreen and in a rural part of the route farmers paid homage to the monarch with tractors lined up in a field.
Hundreds lined the main street of Ballater, the picturesque Victorian village closest to the Balmoral estate, where locals considered her a neighbour, as the Queen’s coffin was driven slowly through.
Her Majesty and her family were often seen in the village in Royal Deeside, which she had visited since childhood and where the Royal Family have space to be themselves.
The hearse passed Glenmuick Church, where the Rev David Barr rang the church bells 70 times after the Queen’s death was announced.
Flowers were thrown into the hearse’s path by well-wishers on both sides of the road in Ballater, which was sombre and silent.
The hearse slowed to a fast walking pace and mourners could clearly see the royal standard-draped coffin and the wreath featuring flowers from the Balmoral estate, including sweet peas – one of the Queen’s favourite flowers – dahlias, phlox, white heather and pine fir.
The security operation will ramp up throughout the week as the Queen’s body is flown back to London before she is set to lie in state at the Palace of Westminster.
It is the first time special forces teams including SAS units are expected to be pre-deployed to bases in London on a heightened state of alert in case of any potential attacks.
Police were granted a no-fly zone order over London on the planned day of the funeral on Monday September 19, which will follow 10 days of mourning.
As well as thousands of uniformed Metropolitan Police bobbies drafted into action, plain-clothes officers will also mingle among crowds to monitor any threats.
It is expected that other forces will be asked to provide officers under ‘mutual aid’.
On Friday police snipers were spotted on the roof of Buckingham Palace with guns trained on the crowds as King Charles greeted people outside after returning from Balmoral.