They saw, in a grand procession, a Mercedes-Benz escorted by the King’s bodyguard for Scotland, followed by the main mourners: the four children of Queen Elizabeth II. Three of them were in their military uniform, including King Charles III in an admiral’s uniform. Prince Andrew wore a morning coat – no longer a working monarch, mostly exiled by scandal, but still around.
People were mostly silent, holding their smartphones up high. One of the lone auditors, who directed his insults at Andrew, was turned back and arrested for disturbing the peace. Some in the crowd shouted, “God bless the Queen!” and “God save the king!”
At the moment, Scotland embraced the “Queen of Scotland”.
But the question with her death is what will come next?
There is no doubt that the British royal family has the closest relations with Scotland, and the vast majority of people here deeply respected the Queen.
And after. Scots have complex feelings about the monarchy and whether Scotland should be an independent – or even a republic – free of hereditary royals. Emotions were subtle undercurrents here on Monday, as the Queen’s sarcophagus traveled from the Palace of Holyroodhouse to St Giles’ Cathedral, and the new king addressed the Scottish Parliament.
Within St Giles, Reverend Ian Greenshields praised the Queen’s love of Balmoral Castle, as “she was valued as a neighbor and friend, and there she gained strength and refreshment during the summer months.”
The Queen enjoyed her royal estate in the Scottish Highlands, of 50,000 acres, where she spent her holidays, on vast moors and valleys, shooting grouse and red deer. The Queen’s family called it “the happy place”. There she performed her last ceremonial act – Appointment of her fifteenth prime minister, Liz Truss, last week. And the she died there Thursday at the age of 96.
“I loved Scotland. “I loved it,” said Hayley Wilson, 34, a civil tax official waiting in line for hours to view the Queen’s coffin in the cathedral. “Balmoral, and she loved bagpipes. She loved being outdoors and landscaping. She loved Scotland. It means a lot.”
Wilson was 18 months old when she first met King. Her mother liked to tell us how, at church for Easter, the Queen was “waving” to baby Hayley. Wilson described Elizabeth II as the “Queen of Scots”.
The new king also had deep connections to Scotland. He attended boarding school in Jordanston, with its cold showers, domination, and serious study, which he is credited with teaching him hard work. He established a center for the Prince’s Foundation, and his advocacy of sustainability, at Dumfries House in Scotland.
Before taking office, Charles held a series of titles in Scotland: Duke of Rothsay, Earl of Carrick, Baron of Renfrew, Lord of the Isles, Prince and Great Host of Scotland.
He even looks comfortable in a kilt.
Charles wore tartan, and bright red socks, when he appeared in front of the Scottish Parliament on Monday, as part of a fast-paced tour of the UK.
He said, “The Queen, like many generations before her, has found in the hills of this land, and in the hearts of her people, a sanctuary and a home.”
This royal dynasty is descended from James VI of Scotland, who followed the first Elizabeth in the 16th century, in the time of William Shakespeare.
Charles quoted Shakespeare when earlier in the day he spoke to the Houses of the British Parliament in Westminster. But he borrowed in Scotland from the poet Robert Burns, saying that his mother the queen was: “the friend of man, the friend of truth, she is the friend of man.” The great friend and mentor of youth.
Scotland’s first minister, Nicola Sturgeon, told the King she remembers the royal family’s barbecues at Balmoral Castle well, with his late father Prince Philip, in charge of the barbecue. And I remembered a time a Queen Corgi was chewing on a wire for a lamp in the castle – though the lights stayed on, and no dogs were hurt.
Sturgeon described the queen as a “true and steadfast friend” of her nation and “essential to the story of Scotland”. Sturgeon pledged her government’s loyalty to the king.
Letters of condolence were warm, even from leaders of Scottish republican parties, such as the Greens.
But among the thousands who lined the roads in Edinburgh to see the Queen’s coffin, there were many who expressed dual loyalties.
Sophie Campbell, 63, a retired shop clerk, said she would welcome Scotland to become an independent country while retaining the King. “It would be the best of both worlds,” she said. “Old and new.”
Campbell said that many Scots had no problem with the monarchy. “They are part of our history.” But she explained: “People in Scotland have problems with the English language” with Boris Johnson and the ruling elites in London.
Daniel Wincott, Professor of Law and Society at Cardiff University, noted that although leaders of the pro-independence SNP have made respectful comments and “praises of the Queen” in the past week, he can still imagine that after a short period of “together” when With the death of the Queen, the ties that bind the United Kingdom could “fade”.
During the 2014 independence referendum, which saw Scotland’s refusal to leave the union, SNP leaders made clear that any newly formed country would retain the monarch as head of state.
Scotland’s First Deputy Minister, John Sweeney, a leader of the Scottish National Party, reiterated the promise to BBC radio on Monday that “His Majesty the King must be head of an independent Scotland”.
He said, “That’s what we’ll continue to discuss.”
Not everyone agrees. Green and Alba leaders in Scotland say they want to separate from the monarchy after independence.
Great survey in May of the think tank British futurefound that 45 per cent in Scotland wanted to keep the monarchy – with 36 per cent saying the end of the Queen’s reign would be the right moment to transition to the Republic.
On the question of Scottish independence, the Queen was mostly silent. But not completely.
In Krathie Kirk, the parish of the Little Church of Scotland where members of the royal family attend Sunday Mass when in Balmoral, Elizabeth stopped to speak to someone from the crowd ahead of the 2014 referendum. He heard her say, “Well, I hope people think well of the future,” which Widely interpreted as a wake-up call for the vote against independence.
This is not a slip of the tongue, said Tim Shipman, political editor for the Sunday Times in London. Reporters were alerted not to hear her remarks.
David Cameron, the prime minister at the time, was caught on live microphone saying the Queen was ‘hacking the phone’ when he reported that his campaign against Scottish independence had succeeded. He later apologized for revealing a private conversation with the king.
While Charles is less popular than his mother in Scotland, and the institution of the monarchy itself is less popular in Scotland than in England, these are differences “of degree rather than kind,” said Alex Massey, Scotland editor of the Spectator.
“I don’t find any great enthusiasm in Scotland for a republic,” Massey said. “Yes, republicanism may be stronger in Scotland than in England, but that does not mean that it is strong enough to withstand today.”
He also cautioned against over-reading opinion polls conducted when Charles was Prince of Wales. He said, “Becoming a king is transformative.”
“The institution is bigger than any individual, and as hard as it is to remember that after 70 years in power,” Massey said. “There is a great goodwill to Charles that might surprise a lot of people; a lot of people are surprised by how well they feel for the King.”
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