Leaden skies and rain as Queen’s long journey home ends in London

The hearse carrying the coffin of Queen Elizabeth II arrives at Buckingham Palace following her death in Scotland last Thursday

The hearse carrying the coffin of Queen Elizabeth II arrives at Buckingham Palace following her death in Scotland last Thursday

By James Toney

When you think of Britain, you think of the Queen and the rain.

So perhaps it was fitting that she returned under a bleak, leaden sky and her final voyage reached her destination just as the focus of national mourning inexorably shifted from Scotland to London.

Maybe it takes a long time to rain down on us, not to reign.

Huddled under umbrellas, the capital turned out in droves to welcome the Queen “home”. She may have been happier in Balmoral, Windsor or Sandringham, but her life of service was forever linked to that town and its people.

Celebrations, feasts, marriages, births and deaths, she had seen it all on these streets steeped in history, now lined with those who came to pay her respects.

The Queen’s coffin, accompanied by her only daughter Princess Anne, left Edinburgh after a stirring and emotional 24 hours in the Scottish capital, which previewed what we will see here in the days to come.

“I was lucky enough to share the last 24 hours of my dearest mother’s life,” said the Princess Royal.

“It was an honor and a privilege to accompany her on her recent travels. Seeing the love and respect shown by so many on these trips was both humbling and uplifting.

“We will all share unique memories. Thank you to each and every one who shares our sense of loss.

“We were perhaps reminded of how much we took for granted their presence and contribution to our national identity.”

Continue reading: Homecoming Queen: Thousands line the streets despite heavy rain and leaden skies (SW London)

Continue reading: Mourners line up 30 hours in advance to pay tribute to The Queen (SW Londoners).

The coffin of Queen Elizabeth II is carried from an aircraft by the Queen's Color Squadron and lifted into the state hearse at RAF Northolt in London for transport to Buckingham Palace on Tuesday September 13, 2022.  Kirsty Wigglesworth/Pool via REUTERS

The coffin of Queen Elizabeth II is carried from an aircraft by the Queen’s Color Squadron and lifted into the RAF Northolt State Hearse in London for transport to Buckingham Palace.

The Queen’s Color Squadron provided the ceremonial guard as the plane landed at RAF Northolt and dignitaries including Prime Minister Liz Truss and Defense Secretary Ben Wallace watched as the slate gray plane descended from the sky to match.

On the 15-mile journey from the outskirts of London to the heart of the capital, thousands lined the route for the most glimpse on the bleakest of evenings.

The A40 – one of London’s thoroughfares – very often stands still every night, but this time there was no frustration.

Instead, people climbed out of their cars to be remembered while hundreds hung over bridges, spontaneous applause and cheers on the drive as the Royal Bordeaux State hearse leisurely passed.

Three motorcyclists made their way while hundreds of police officers patrolled the route, the start of the largest security operation this city has ever seen.

In the gathering darkness, the Queen’s coffin was illuminated by searchlights and the flash, flash, flash of the ubiquitous camera phones, a 21st century candlelit vigil.

Arriving in central London, the funeral procession passed along Eastbourne Terrace, Lancaster Gate and Bayswater Road before circumnavigating the famous Marble Arch and down Park Lane.

As the rain intensified, so did the crowds. As her coffin descended Constitution Hill, which runs alongside the Buckingham Palace gardens she loved so much, there was barely enough room to move, like on a rush-hour tube on the Elizabeth Line.

The cheers grew louder as the hearse passed Buckingham Palace’s Center Gate Center Arch and her coffin was received by The Queen’s Company of The Grenadier Guards, the traditional pallbearers for all deceased monarchs, with each soldier standing over two meters tall .

There were shouts of “three cheers” as the hearse rounded the guard of honor and arrived at the state entrance, where members of the royal family waited out of sight of television cameras.

The Queen will now spend one last night at the Buck House and an overnight rest in the Bow Room before moving to Westminster Hall on Wednesday for four days in state.

She is at home… in the heart of her nation.

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