The Daily Telegraph
The final homecoming
Family allowed to grieve in private as coffin arrives at Buckingham Palace after journey from Scotland
‘Witnessing the love and respect shown by so many on these journeys has been both humbling and uplifting’
IN LIFE, she made it her purpose to be seen to be believed. In death, it was just the same, as Queen Elizabeth II came home to her family, carried by a hearse lit up like a beacon and watched by a city at a standstill.
The late monarch’s cortège, which last night left Scotland and returned to Buckingham Palace, was greeted by cheers, applause and the glow of countless camera phones as it made its slow journey through the streets of London.
In darkness and rain, well-wishers lined the streets in a show of respect and unexpected emotion.
Motorists came to a halt, stepping out of their cars to watch the hearse go past.
As the convoy reached the palace, police outriders bowed their heads, and tears streamed down the faces of members of the public who had gathered to watch.
As the gates of the palace closed, the Queen’s coffin was met by her children and grandchildren. In a deeply private moment – their first opportunity to gather together since the Queen’s death – they paused their public duties for one evening only in simple, quiet remembrance.
Today, they will fulfil her wishes in time-honoured tradition, walking behind her coffin from the palace to Westminster Hall, where the casket will be handed over to the public for a fourday-long lying in state.
The state hearse, designed in consultation with the Queen, was lit from within, allowing anyone who saw it to catch a glimpse of her “last great journey”.
Draped in the Royal Standard with a wreath of white flowers on the top, the coffin made its way from RAF Northolt to the monarchy’s London headquarters, through a city that seemed to pause to show its respect.
The procession was the first opportunity for Londoners to see the Queen’s coffin after it lay at rest in Scotland, with locals and commuters alike braving the weather to take their impromptu frontrow positions to see history unfold.
Today, tens of thousands more have planned to line the streets when the Prince of Wales and Duke of Sussex walk behind their grandmother’s coffin as it makes its way to lie in state.
The brothers will join the Queen’s four children for the near-silent procession, in that time-honoured tradition of royal duty that saw them walk behind Diana’s coffin in such different circumstances 25 years ago.
It is designed as a “relatively small and personal procession”, in which her coffin will be carried by gun carriage and followed by members of the armed forces, her closest personal staff and the new King’s household.
The Duke of Sussex will wear a morning suit for the occasion, having been prevented from wearing his military uniform in his new role as a non-working member of the family.
Last night, his press secretary issued a statement insisting his “decade of military service is not determined by the uniform he wears”.
The brothers will be joined by their cousin Peter Phillips, Vice Admiral Sir Timothy Laurence, the Duke of Gloucester and the Earl of Snowdon. The Queen Consort, Princess of Wales, Duchess of Sussex and Countess of Wessex will travel to Westminster by car.
That will be the first moment that the late sovereign’s grandchildren and their spouses will join the ceremonial mourning.
The Queen will lie in state until the morning of the funeral on Monday, with a near-constant stream of members of the public filing past her coffin.
As many as 400,000 people are expected to attend, amid growing concern that predicted five-mile queues, requiring a 30-hour wait, will prevent children and the elderly from playing their part in history.
Yesterday, the Princess Royal accompanied her mother’s coffin on the 5.42pm flight from Edinburgh to London in an RAF Globemaster C-17 military transport aircraft.
The Princess said it had been an “honour and a privilege to accompany her on her final journeys”, having been with the Queen in the last 24 hours of her life.
“Witnessing the love and respect shown by so many on these journeys has been both humbling and uplifting,” she said.
Hundreds of thousands of people in Scotland turned out to pay their respects, with 33,000 queuing for up to 12 hours to walk past as the Queen lay at rest in St Giles’ Cathedral.
Members of the public lined the roads to the airport, some removing their hats as the hearse passed them.
At Edinburgh airport, a guard of honour of three officers and 101 soldiers was formed by the Royal Regiment of Scotland, with an aircraft-bearer party provided by the Queen’s Colour Squadron, Royal Air Force.
The aircraft was used last year for Operation Pitting to evacuate thousands of people fleeing the Taliban in Afghanistan.
Nearly six million people immediately tried to log on to the tracking website Flightradar24 to follow its progress before it landed at RAF Northolt at around 7pm.
As the Queen left Scotland for the final time, the flag on her coffin – the Royal Standard of Scotland – was changed to the Royal Standard ready for its arrival in England.
At Northolt, it was met by a guard of honour and 96 aviators from the Queen’s Colour Squadron.
It was loaded into the claret-coloured state hearse designed by Jaguar Land Rover and travelled along the A40 flanked by police outriders.
Inside the gates of Buckingham Palace, a guard of honour provided by 1st Battalion Coldstream Guards was stationed in the Quadrangle to give the Royal salute.
A bearer party found by Queen’s Company 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards carried the coffin to the palace’s Bow Room, where the sovereign’s piper, Pipe Major Paul Burns of the Royal Regiment of Scotland played a lament.
The Royal family, led by the King, received the Queen’s coffin, ready to take over a private, intimate evening with her family.
The gathering, the first time the 22 members of the wider family have been in the same place since the Queen’s death, was stripped of ceremony and cameras, allowing them a moment of peace in what has been a gruelling schedule.
Just a week ago, the Queen had appeared in good health and spirits, receiving the new Prime Minister Liz Truss at Balmoral.
Last night, the King and his three siblings, the Princess Royal, Prince Andrew and the Earl of Wessex were supported by their spouses, the Queen Consort, Sir Tim Laurence and Sophie, the Countess of Wessex.
A rota of former chaplains to the Queen kept watch over the coffin while it lay in the Bow Room overnight.
Today the procession to Westminster Hall will set off from Buckingham Palace at 2.22pm, arriving at 3pm.
It will include senior members of the royal household and the Queen’s closest personal aides, who have been invited in recognition of their many years of dedicated service and loyalty.
The procession will walk in silence without music. It will end in a 20-minute service at Westminster Hall, led by the Archbishop of Canterbury accompanied by the Dean of Westminster.
THE Bow Room at Buckingham Palace, the overnight resting place for the late Queen’s coffin, was the backdrop to the monarch’s first Christmas broadcast in colour in 1967.
The room, named after its large bow window, has also played host to visiting dignitaries and Royal family occasions.
In 2000, the late Queen Mother held a private family lunch there to mark her 100th birthday.
A Bow Room photograph from 1942 shows the young Princess Elizabeth and her parents meeting Eleanor Roosevelt, who was in the UK to visit US troops and observe the Home Front effort.
Originally intended as a library, the room is used for receptions, as a waiting room for those receiving a private audience with the late Queen, and is the room through which guests reach the garden while attending royal garden parties. Queen Victoria oversaw the decoration of the room, and ovals on the walls depict her European relations.
Cabinets there display the Mecklenburg dinner service, which was ordered by George III and Queen Charlotte and given as a gift to Charlotte’s brother, Duke Adolphus Frederick IV of Mecklenburg-strelitz, in 1764.
Having passed down through the family, it was then presented to the Queen Mother in 1947 to celebrate her silver wedding anniversary.
The Queen welcomed sporting figures to the Bow Room, including the Arsenal team under the captaincy of Thierry Henry in 2007. That year, the New Zealand rugby league team performed the haka for the late Queen and Duke of Edinburgh there.
Queen Elizabeth II’S first colour television Christmas broadcast in 1967 was filmed in the Bow Room. In that address, she told the nation: “Let there be no doubt that Britain is faced with formidable problems, but let there also be no doubt she will overcome them.
“Determined and well-directed effort, by a people who for centuries have given ample evidence of their resources of character and initiative, must bring its reward.”
The room was most recently in use on Sunday when the King held a reception for the high commissioners of the Commonwealth realms.