Ninety-six lanterns, one for each year of the Queen’s life, have been illuminated in a service at a Scottish monument as mourners fell silent across the country to reflect on her reign.
The service at The Kelpies, between Falkirk and Grangemouth, took place in front of the Queen Elizabeth II Canal’s pool of reflection, and saw hundreds honour the memory of the monarch on the eve of her state funeral.
Led by the Very Rev Martin Fair, minister of St Andrew’s Parish Church and former moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, lanterns and wreaths were placed in the pool and the crowds fell silent at 8pm with others across the country.
Deputy First Minister John Swinney was joined by other ministers on the steps in front of the Scottish Government headquarters at St Andrew’s House in Edinburgh, where they paid their respects.
He said: “In reflecting on Her Majesty’s life and legacy, many of us have considered her long and valued service to the nation and the respect and admiration she had for the people of Scotland.”
Mr Fair said hundreds attended the service at The Kelpies “out of a sense of wanting to do something – to be with others in a dignified way, coming together that we might pay our respects and acknowledge the remarkable service of our Queen”.
James McGrouther, 66, from Clydebank, said: “She, for 70 years, has been the adhesive that has held our country, to some extent, together.”
Roslyn Connell, 53, said the service was “lovely”, adding: “I was here because this lady has been the rock that held us all together for 70 years.”
The committed Christian from Glasgow said she “knew what strong faith” the Queen had, and added: “I wanted to be here to show my allegiance to the Queen and to everybody.”
During the Queen’s final journey in Scotland – from Balmoral, where she died, to the capital – hundreds of thousands of people came out to pay their respects to Britain’s longest serving monarch.
Fiona McLuckie, of Falkirk, said: “I wasn’t able to get to Edinburgh and I wasn’t able to get to London and this is local to me, so I just wanted to be here.”
She said she was “quite taken aback” when she heard of the Queen’s death last week, and the 57-year-old added: “Both my husband and I quite moved by it. It’s quite surreal, actually, I can’t quite come to terms with it.”
The service, which saw children place electronic lanterns in the water, heard lone piper Euan Thompson play Salute to Queen Elizabeth II, which ended the service.
The Queen will make her final journey through London on Monday in the first state funeral in more than five decades.
Scottish Secretary Alister Jack paid tribute to her after the national moment of reflection, and said the past few days had shown how much she “meant to people in Scotland”.
“From Balmoral all the way to Edinburgh, Scots turned out in droves to pay their respects, give thanks for the Queen’s lifetime of service and mourn her passing,” he said.
“Tomorrow will be a day of unbearable sadness for our nation as Her Majesty is laid to rest. Our thoughts will be with our new King, Charles III, and the rest of the royal family.”