The Queen in Edinburgh: thousands line the streets to mourn Queen Elizabeth II as she lies at rest

Crowds gathered to watch as the procession carrying Queen Elizabeth II made its journey from Holyroodhouse to St Giles’ Cathedral, writes Heather Carrick in Edinburgh

The Royal Mile has seen its fair share of crowds over the years as the prime location in Edinburgh to welcome tourists and locals alike.

However, even this historic thoroughfare seemed unprepared for the masses that came out to watch as Queen Elizabeth II’s coffin was taken from the Palace of Holyroodhouse to St Giles’ Cathedral.

Thousands had made the trip to the Scottish capital’s Old Town - so many that from an hour before the procession’s start, police blocked off entrances to the Royal Mile from Waverley Station.

Thousands lined the streets of the Royal Mile for the Queen’s procession. (Credit: Heather Carrick/NationalWorld)

Those wishing to catch a glimpse of the hearse as it passed by climbed onto window sills, street signs and some even brought their own step ladders to see above the height of the rapidly growing crowd.

Mourners quietened as the procession passed; the hearse leading the route, while Prince Andrew, Princess Anne and Prince Edward followed by foot behind.

King Charles III followed in a vehicle behind his siblings and the body of his mother.

‘It’s important to see history in the making’

John from St Andrews joined the crowd around halfway up the route from Holyroodhouse Palace to St Giles’ Cathedral.

He said: “In light of the political climate in Scotland, this is probably the last ever time we’ll see a Queen. This is history, and I think it’s important to see history in the making.

“I won’t be able to see her [at St Giles’ Cathedral] but I’ll be going down to London so hopefully I’ll be able to visit her then. We were thinking that we would be able to come to the mile about an hour or half an hour before it started but it’s packed with people.”

Lynn, from County Durham, and Ruth, from Inverness, both travelled to the city to pay their respects.

Lynn (left) and Ruth (right) travelled to Edinburgh to watch the procession. (Credit: Heather Carrick/NationalWorld)

“We didn’t realise either of us were coming and saw each other on the Royal Mile, so it’s been a nice way to reunite,” Lynn said.

She added: “I travelled by train from County Durham this morning, and it was a bit of a last minute decision, but I wanted to come and pay respects. It’s been easier for me to travel to Scotland than to go to London.”

Ruth added: “It’s been very busy but it’s lovely that we’ve been able to see this in Scotland. It’s a place that meant so much to the Queen too, so she would have been very happy with the turnout.”

Lisa Hart, from Edinburgh, called the moment the coffin passed “touching”, adding that she was expecting a huge wait to see the Queen lying in state.

“We’re going to try and get to the cathedral but it’s already very busy and we’re at the wrong side of the Royal Mile. So if we can we will.”

‘It shows you how important the Queen is to people’

After the Royal Mile crowds began to disperse, mourners began their pilgrimage to join the queue to see the Queen lie in state.

With queues stretching from St Giles’ Cathedral through the Old Town, those wishing to pay their respects were in for a lengthy wait.

The queue stretched from St Giles’ Cathedral to The Meadows in Edinburgh. (Credit: Heather Carrick/National World)

Samantha and Thomas, a married couple from Glasgow, had spent 45 minutes queuing when they found themselves at Bristo Square - still a long way to go.

Samantha said: “We’re in for the long haul here, we have a wristband but theres a huge amount of people in front of us but it’ll be worth it.”

Thomas added: “We’re doing bathroom breaks and food runs in shifts to not lose our place.

“We tried to get to the procession earlier but we couldn’t see a thing - it’s been madness in the city but I guess it just shows you how important the Queen was to a lot of people.”

Jeff Baird, a former Queen’s Guard soldier, will wait into the night to pay respects to his former boss. (Credit: Heather Carrick/NationalWorld)

Jeff Baird, from Falkirk, joined the queue as it stretched to the Meadows, one of the city’s largest parks, just a little under a mile away from the cathedral. As a former Queen’s Guard officer, he said it felt like his duty to pay respects to his former “boss”.

“We’re planning to stay the night and just queue for as long as it takes.

“When you’re a guardsman you got that unusual access. You see them in their private lifestyles, especially when you’re at guard at Windsor Castle. I have seen them many times walking the corgis - her and the Queen Mother and Princess Anne.

“I remember the Queen and Princess Anne walking the corgis out the back of the Windsor Castle, and I’m there presenting my arms, and then at some point the Queen actually noticed that I was still standing there presenting the arms and she told me to stand down, then they are there speaking like any mother and daughter.

Jeff added: “It’s special thing. As an ex-soldier, ex-guardsman, she was my boss and that’s why I’m here for as long as I need to be.”

Thousands more people will be viewing the Queen as she lies in state for the next 24 hours in Edinburgh before she leaves Scotland at 5pm tomorrow (13 September) for her final journey to London.