'Surreal', 'emotional and a 'wonderful honour': People from across Scotland say farewell to 'remarkable' Queen

·6-min read

People from across Scotland said their final goodbyes to Queen Elizabeth II as her coffin left Edinburgh and headed to London.

Members of the public had been able to view the monarch's oak coffin in St Giles' Cathedral since Monday afternoon, with around 33,000 people filing through to pay their respects.

A stream of people snaking more than a mile down to The Meadows formed at some points during the 24-hour window, with demand so high that the queue closed just after noon on Tuesday.

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One of the very last people in the queue was Sophie Younger, who had travelled from Perth, with her 25-year-old daughter Eliza to take part in the occasion.

The 60-year-old explained that the trip was a "last minute family affair" and they were originally told they would not get in.

Luckily, they made it inside the cathedral before it closed to the public to prepare for the departure of the Queen's coffin.

Mrs Younger described the experience as "very special" and "very poignant".

"The Queen represents so much. She is someone who gave her life to be a constitutional monarch, and she had to juggle being a mother at the same time," the mother-of-two added.

"There is a lot to respect there, and it's the least we can do to come and say goodbye and thank you.

"It was sad, sad farewells, but I'm very glad that we did make the effort, and I was just so pleased we managed to make it in."

'The biggest event I have ever been at'

A mother and son, Janet Sharpe and Charles Sharpe, were also one of the last people to pay their respects to the Queen, and had travelled from Glasgow in order to do so.

"We had to pay our respects to Elizabeth II who, as Boris Johnson said in his speech, was the most famous woman in the world. It is an honour to be here," 68-year-old Mr Sharpe said.

"I would say this will probably be the biggest event I have ever been at.

"I wasn't born when the Queen's Coronation happened, but my mother and father bought a black and white television to watch it especially."

Mrs Sharpe, 89, who was very emotional, held back tears as she told Sky News: "The Queen was great. It felt only right to come. I'd really like to see her."

'A wonderful honour'

Lord Smith of Kelvin was one of just four people invited to hold a vigil around the Queen's coffin while it was laid to rest.

The 70-year-old travelled from Peebles, a town in the Scottish Borders, to take part in the "hugely important" moment.

He is one of only 16 people to have been given the greatest order of chivalry in Scotland, The Order of the Thistle, which recognises Scottish men and women who have held public office or who have contributed in a particular way to national life.

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Dressed in a formal mourning suit, Lord Smith said: "It was wonderful. I don't do emotion, unless the stock market goes down a couple of hundred points, but honestly I felt really emotional today."

"It was hugely important that I came today, and it was a wonderful honour," the chancellor of University of Strathclyde said.

"Watching people filing past when I was standing there was just amazing, the outpouring of grief and pride and happiness and yet sadness. It was just amazing - I've not seen anything like this ever."

'Scotland had the opportunity to show its love for her'

Meanwhile, people packed into the historic streets of the city to see the coffin leave the cathedral, followed by the Princess Royal and her husband, Vice Admiral Sir Tom Laurence.

Carried out of the church to the sound of a lone piper, the hearse carrying the Queen's coffin then departed for Edinburgh Airport.

As it did, the crowd fell silent, burst into a huge round of applause and then started to swiftly dissipate.

Agnes Blake, a 74-year-old widow who travelled more than 50 miles to see the Queen's coffin, was among them.

Asked what it was like to see the procession, the retired bank worker said: "It is very hard to describe something like this because it's like seeing those rainbows the other day over Windsor Castle, you feel there is something at work here that none of us can really understand."

"I'm delighted that Scotland had the opportunity to show its love for her," she added.

"Maybe we'll all look at our lives and the world around us and for her sake see things a wee bit differently in every way."

'A moment in history'

Former Air Cadet Libby Mcadams, and her husband, current Air Cadet, Barry Mcadams, waited around an hour and 15 minutes with their five-year-old son Brody and their daughter Leigh to see the monarch's coffin inside the cathedral.

"This is a moment in history, and we have a chance for them to be a part of it, so this morning when we saw queues were filing through quickly, we thought we'd ring the school and just come," Mrs Mcadams said.

"It was very sombre, even the kids knew to be quiet without being told to, and Leigh got quite emotional.

"The Queen was the boss. Once you have been involved in any military organisation, she is always going to be the boss, and King Charles is in charge, but the endearment of the boss is something that will be earned," she added.

Still a little upset from the visit, seven-year-old Leigh said she will miss the Queen as she recalled having tea in the palace.

"It was really exciting, and I felt really pumped up, and I really miss the Queen a lot," she said.

'I was effectively family'

For Ian Milne, the events at St Giles' Cathedral were worth travelling from Ayrshire.

Living in East Kilbride, the care home worker had finished a night shift in the county before he headed to Edinburgh with his son, niece and great nephew.

The 59-year-old was wearing a Union Jack flag to mark the occasion and said: "The Queen has always been at the centre of my life and someone who I've respected and looked up too.

"I would have been absolutely gutted if I hadn't made it. I just want to be able to pay my respects to a woman who has done so much for the country."

Recalling meeting the Queen when she opened a swimming pool in 1984, he laughed: "The Queen stopped and spoke to me briefly, so I felt like I was effectively family really."