Scotland's final goodbye: Mourners bid farewell to Queen before she leaves country for the last time

13 September 2022, 07:41 | Updated: 13 September 2022, 09:29

Scotland is bidding farewell to the UK's longest-reigning monarch before her coffin is brought to London on Tuesday
Scotland is bidding farewell to the UK's longest-reigning monarch before her coffin is brought to London on Tuesday. Picture: Getty/Alamy

By Daisy Stephens

Tens of thousands of tearful mourners have queued through the night in Edinburgh to bid farewell to Queen Elizabeth II before she leaves the country for the final time on Tuesday night.

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Members of the public braved hours-long queues in chilly nighttime temperatures in order to file past the coffin in St Giles' Chapel.

Deputy Leader of the House of Lords, Lord Ian Duncan, said the queues showed an 'extraordinary outpouring of grief for an extraordinary woman'.

"The sheer quantity of individuals moving into Edinburgh today (indicates) that there will be many tens - possibly even hundreds - of thousands of people who will wish to pay their respects to the late Queen," Lord Duncan said on Tuesday morning.

Read more: Guard of honour for monarch and mother: Charles leads Queen's children in vigil as mourners line streets to see coffin

Read more: Live updates: Thousands file past Queen's coffin overnight before she travels to London on Tuesday

"That is an extraordinary outpouring of respect, grief, celebration of an extraordinary woman.

"By goodness, they were ten-deep.

"They had to stop people trying to get there because it would have become dangerous."

Mourners queued for around five hours to see the Queen's coffin in St Giles' CathedralMourners queued for around five hours to see the Queen's coffin in St Giles' Cathedral
Mourners queued for around five hours to see the Queen's coffin in St Giles' CathedralMourners queued for around five hours to see the Queen's coffin in St Giles' Cathedral. Picture: Getty

One individual, Gavin Hamilton from Edinburgh, said he queued for over five hours and was eventually inside the Cathedral at about 3am.

"It took about five and a quarter hours waiting in line to see her," he said.

"There were people in the queue with me who had travelled from Aberdeen, over 100 miles away, to do this.

"There were thousands of people in line at 12.30am at the start of the queue.

"The people were still (lining up) after 2.50 am when I got into the cathedral."

Lord Duncan said the queues showed an 'extraordinary outpouring of grief'
Lord Duncan said the queues showed an 'extraordinary outpouring of grief'. Picture: Alamy

Fellow mourner Mitch Stevenson, who queued for just under five hours with his sister, said they were "overwhelmed with the power and emotion of the occasion" after making it into St Giles’ cathedral just after 1am.

"It was a very important occasion for us – we lost our mum earlier this year and she would have loved to have been able to go, so we went for her memory also," Mr Stevenson said.

Shortly after 6am on Tuesday the Scottish Government said the approximate waiting time was roughly two hours but added that that is expected to lengthen during the morning.

It advised people wishing to join the queue to go prepared and dressed for the weather.

Members of the public filing past the coffin
Members of the public filing past the coffin. Picture: Alamy

Members of the public started going into the cathedral at about 6pm, and the procession was temporarily paused to allow the royal family to take part in a short vigil at about 8pm, led by King Charles III.

After a short procession, the Queen's four children - Charles, Anne, Andrew and Edward - stood on one of the four corners of the oak coffin with their heads bowed in a traditional ceremony known as the Vigil of the Princes.  

Charles kept his hands joined and looked towards the floor as members of the public walked past.

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His brother Andrew kept his eyes closed for a period of time during the vigil while the Princess Royal and Earl of Wessex had their eyes fixed towards the floor.

They stood alongside four suited members of the Royal Company of Archers, who were standing guard dressed in long-feathered hats and armed with arrows and quivers, while Camilla, the Queen Consort, watched on from a distance.

The tradition has been honoured since the death of King George V in 1936, with Princess Anne becoming the first female royal to take part. 

Charles at the Vigil of the Princes
Charles at the Vigil of the Princes. Picture: Alamy

While Charles, Anne and Edward all appeared in military uniform, Andrew wore only a morning suit, having been banned from wearing uniform on public occasions following his exile from public life amid the fallout from his role in the Jeffrey Epstien scandal.

Respectful well-wishers desperate to pay their respects were overcome with emotion as they solemnly walked past Her Majesty's coffin.

The Queen will lie in state there for 24 hours before she is flown to London ahead of the funeral at Westminster Abbey on Monday, September 19.

Charles leads his siblings in Vigil of the Princes
Charles leads his siblings in Vigil of the Princes. Picture: Alamy

The first people to view the late Queen's coffin at St Giles Cathedral in Edinburgh, where it will lie for 24 hours, yesterday spoke about their experience.

George Higgins, a former soldier in the Scots Guards, was at the front of the queue, with hundreds of well-wishers behind him lining George IV bridge.

The 61-year-old has been queuing since 7am, shortly after he finished an overnight shift as a security guard at the University of Edinburgh.

He said: "I've been here since 6.45am, I came straight here after a night shift at work. I took my clothes to work, got changed and came straight here. I'm going back on shift at 9.30pm tonight, so I'm going to be very tired. But it's worth it, with her service to the country, to us, to people and to the Commonwealth, the least I can do is give her a couple of days of my time to say farewell.

Read more: First Royal fans descend on London ahead of Queen's coffin's arrival as mourners warned of 30-hour queues

Read more: Heckler who called Prince Andrew "sick old man" arrested during procession

"It's a real privilege to be here. I can't believe I'm actually first. I have actually got to pinch myself. It's just luck."

Karen Whitehouse left her home in Loweswater, Cumbria, at 2am to start queuing to pay her respects to the late monarch in the Scottish capital.

Speaking about her moment with the royal coffin, the 64-year-old said: "It was surreal. It was very quiet, everyone was very still. It was like they were all statues. I can't believe I've done it and I was that close. I paid my respects, it was just beautiful."

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