It’s a winding, circuitous route worthy of any of her royal tours.
The coffin is currently in the ballroom of Balmoral Castle, draped in the royal standard and adorned with a wreath of flowers. Until now only the estate’s staff have been able to pay their respects in person, though hundreds of members of the public have laid flowers outside the gates of this remote, rural location.
Balmoral was one of the queen’s favorite residences, its 50,000 acres 500 miles from London allowing for long walks and other outdoor activities with her iconic corgis.
At around 10 a.m. (5 a.m. ET), six of Balmoral’s gamekeepers will carry the coffin into a waiting hearse — giving the public its first visual confirmation of the queen’s death in what will likely be a moment of intense emotion.
For millions globally, seeing her coffin will underscore a reality that until now may not have sunk in.
“I don’t think any of us know how we’re going to react when we see the coffin driving past for the first time,” said Russell Collie, 52, who was paying his respects at Holyroodhouse beside mountains of floral tributes, where sunlight streamed softly through the gates. “It’s going to be an incredibly emotional moment.”
Castle guards will give the late queen her last royal salute. The hearse will then take a 176-mile trip to Edinburgh, the Scottish capital, via Aberdeen and Dundee so the public can pay their respects. The journey is expected to take about six hours.
Already parts of Edinburgh have been subsumed in preparation for its central role in this once-in-a-lifetime event. Roads in the city’s Old Town have been closed, staffed by officials in high-visibility jackets. And the public have for days been laying flowers at the sites that the coffin will visit.
More ceremony awaits the coffin when it arrives at Holyroodhouse, the monarch’s official Scottish residence, where it will be met by members of the royal family in the throne room.
On Monday, King Charles III and his wife, Camilla, Queen Consort, will fly to Edinburgh for what will likely be a somber yet awe-inspiring procession up the city’s historic, cobbled Royal Mile.
Flanking the coffin will be the Royal Company of Archers, a unit of bowmen who serve as the monarch’s ceremonial bodyguard in Scotland. Their striking dark green uniforms are accented with a crimson stripe and a large eagle’s feather in their hats.
Charles, Prince William and Prince Harry will follow on foot, with other frontline royals following in cars. A 21-gun salute will fire from Edinburgh Castle, which is perched on an outcrop of volcanic rock overlooking the city at the end of this thoroughfare.
The crowds are likely to be heaving, even in Scotland, where many of those who wish to break away from the U.K. also want to ditch the royals. As Harry and William’s joint appearance at Windsor on Saturday displayed, the queen’s death is at least temporarily leading some to put aside their differences in deference to the late monarch.
Mourners can see the coffin as it lies in state for 24 hours in St. Giles’ Cathedral, before it is moved to London and the additional calendar events ahead of the state funeral Sept. 19.
“We are going to try to get onto the Royal Mile and into the cathedral if we can, but the crowds will be humongous,” said Andrew Golds, 51, who works in technology and is on vacation from Derby, England, with his partner, Elaine Coyle, also 51.