- Alan Little
- BBC News
King Charles spoke of his mother’s love for Scotland, which “took refuge in its mountains and in the hearts of its people”. The Queen left Scotland for the last time today.
Queen Elizabeth spoke at the Scottish Parliament House in Holyrood (Edinburgh) on Monday about the deep and lasting bond the monarch inspires in life – a bond of shared history and shared identity across England.
Scotland today has arguably been politically separated from the rest of the United Kingdom for nearly 40 years. Support for independence remains below 50 percent – but not by a wide margin – and is much higher among young people.
Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s first minister, wants Scottish independence – but if it happens – she would keep the monarchy with Charles III and his heirs on the Scottish throne.
As king, Charles will have to keep his views on this possibility to himself, but he is ushering in an era that is more in tune with Scotland’s sensibilities and the uniqueness of its traditions and institutions.
His willingness to visit Edinburgh, Belfast and Cardiff to start his reign is telling and indicates that the future of the Union is at the heart of his concerns. The early decades of his late mother’s reign were marked by the long, slow decline of the British Empire’s power abroad.
But he will be wary of the possibility that his reign could be defined by continuing that process here, and ultimately by the dissolution of the United Kingdom itself.
But all this has been postponed for now. Soldiers from the Royal Scottish Regiment carried the Queen’s coffin from the throne room at Holyrood Palace on Monday.
Her four sons followed their mother’s body, walking slowly down the steep path of this ancient route known as the Royal Mile.
Because the eyes of the world are parasitic on their own grief, they must subordinate their grief to the demands of public ritual. It was the way they lived.
The Queen’s coffin was carried to St Giles’ Cathedral, the main church in Edinburgh, where the Queen sometimes worshiped simply as a member rather than as the head of the church here.
Here, they placed the Crown of Scotland on the coffin, which was done for his predecessor James V in the 16th century.
It is the centerpiece of the Scottish Crown Jewels – also known as the Honors of Scotland. Consider this peaceful symbol – a gesture towards the unique character of the historic nation of Scotland.
“Here at St Giles, John Knox confronted Mary Queen of Scots, King James VI, debated the Eucharist, Oliver Cromwell’s sermons and received honors from Scotland when our late Queen ascended the throne 70 years ago,” said the priest, the Reverend. Callum MacLeod.
Opened by the late Queen 23 years ago, the Scottish Parliament is now the center of public and political life here. King Charles and the Queen Consort were escorted to Parliament by the Royal Archery Corps, the personal bodyguard of the King of Scotland.
Members of the Scottish Parliament observed a two-minute silence, and then each party leader, starting with First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, spoke to express their condolences.
Sturgeon told parliament: “Our nation mourns the loss of a Queen we have yet to get used to. We are very proud to welcome His Majesty King Charles III and his wife the Queen today. We stand ready to support you as you do, Your Majesty. Continue your distinguished career of service (as King) and You have a legacy to build on. Your dear mother, our Queen, Queen Elizabeth, Queen of Scots, is extraordinary and we are grateful for her life. May she now rest in peace.”
“My mother and I both felt great admiration for the Scottish people,” he replied, “for their wonderful achievements and their indomitable spirit, and she was delighted to learn of his (the Scottish people’s) genuine affection. This deep and lasting bond should be recognized, for us, at the end of an incomparable life.” We must be strong in times of grief.”
Today, the Queen’s coffin was flown to London to be placed in Westminster Great Hall.
When this period of mourning is over and the queen is halfway out of our collective memory, what will this legacy be?
This question will be at the center of the New Testament that began when she died.
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