EDINBURGH, Scotland — Cannons will boom, ceremonial bodyguards brandishing longbows will escort the hearse, and all eyes will be on the capital of Scotland — a country close to Queen Elizabeth II's heart, but also a place with its own often uneasy relationship to the crown.
The United Kingdom knows how to do pomp and ceremony. But on Monday, its 1,000-year-old royal family was at the center of a truly grand spectacle.
King Charles III was leading a royal procession behind the coffin of his mother as Britain's late, longest-serving monarch travels up the narrow, cobbled street of Edinburgh's Royal Mile from the Palace of Holyroodhouse to St. Giles’ Cathedral.
The grand spectacle was playing out in the Scottish capital, rather than London, because the queen's relatively sudden, if not unexpected, death came last week at Balmoral Castle, her cherished residence in the Highlands.
“The distinctly Scottish flavor of today and tomorrow shows how the United Kingdom has always been a union of distinct nations united by the crown,”
said Craig Prescott, an expert in constitutional law and the monarchy at Bangor University in Wales. “It’s natural given the queen has died in Scotland,
that Scotland has the chance to have its own moment before the focus turns to London.”
Years in the planning, this alternative playbook for Operation London Bridge means the queen's posthumous pageantry also reflects her own deep ties and affection for the country.