The coffin of Queen Elizabeth II left the monarch’s beloved Scotland and landed on Tuesday evening in London, where crowds have gathered along the route it will take to Buckingham Palace.
Her son, King Charles III, returned to London from Northern Ireland, where his visit drew a rare moment of unity from politicians in a region with a contested British and Irish identity that is deeply divided over the monarchy.
The military C-17 Globemaster carrying the monarch’s casket touched down at RAF Northolt, an air force base west of the city, about an hour after it left Edinburgh. UK Prime Minister Liz Truss, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace and a military honour guard were among those greeting the coffin at the base.
The queen’s body made the final journey from Balmoral Castle in northern Scotland, where the monarch died on September 8 at age 96 after 70 years on the throne.
It travelled past thousands of people who gathered in the rain along the road to pay their last respects. Charles and other members of immediate family will meet the coffin at Buckingham Palace, where it will spend a final night at the queen’s London home. It will be taken by horse-drawn gun carriage to the Houses of Parliament to lie in state for four days before Monday’s funeral at Westminster Abbey.
Earlier, the flag-draped oak coffin was carried from St. Giles’ Cathedral in Edinburgh to the strain of bagpipes. Crowds lining the Royal Mile through the historic heart of Edinburgh broke into applause as the coffin, accompanied by the queen’s daughter, Princess Anne, was driven to Edinburgh Airport.
The Scottish government said 33,000 people filed silently past the coffin in the 24 hours after it was brought to Edinburgh from Balmoral.
In Northern Ireland, hundreds of people lined the street leading to Hillsborough Castle near Belfast, the royal family’s official residence in Northern Ireland, in the latest outpouring of affection following the queen’s death. The area in front of the gates to the castle was carpeted with hundreds of floral tributes.
Charles and his wife Camilla, the Queen Consort, got out of their car to wave to the crowd and sometimes used both hands to reach out to villagers, including schoolchildren in bright blue uniforms. Charles even petted a corgi — famously his late mother’s favourite breed of dog — held up by one person, and some chanted “God save the king!”