The Queen’s motorcade – a final farewell to Scotland, the land she loved | Queen Elizabeth II


The Queen will bid farewell to Scotland on Sunday as the motorcade carrying her coffin leaves Balmoral and passes through Royal Deeside on its way to Edinburgh and the Palace of Holyroodhouse.

Its final journey has been carefully charted and its progress through this heavily forested corner of the Cairngorm Mountains will be slow. For most Deeside residents, this will be a chance to say goodbye to someone they considered a cherished neighbour.

After passing Crathie Kirk, the small granite church that the Queen frequented on Sundays during her summer holidays in the Highlands, the hearse will reach the village of Ballater. Here, the procession will slow to the pace of the march so residents can pay their respects. Cars were cleared from the main road and metal control barriers went into place on Saturday afternoon, with bright yellow traffic cones guarding the road.

“Her Majesty was our neighbour, and when she comes through here it’s going to be difficult,” said Reverend David Barr, minister at Glenmuick Church in Ballater, who rushed home from vacation when he heard of the news, to ring the church bells 70 times. “People have seen it on TV, but when it comes on it will be final.”

There will be tears, Barr said, but they will be held back. Village response is generally understated – a very Highland sensibility. A hardware store and a hairdresser on the high street have discreet handmade display cases: one has old photographs of the Queen on dark tartan. Union flags are largely absent and locals are often quick to shut down what they see as intrusive enquiries. “She’s our neighbor, so we don’t talk about her,” one said with a polite nod.

“The village is very protective,” says Lucy Lafferty, who took over her father’s fishing and shooting tackle shop a few years ago. “Everyone respects them here.” It’s a defensive attitude that comes with the knowledge that Ballater is one of the few places on Earth where the Queen and her family might go unnoticed. “We treat them like locals – they shop freely here. They are still at the butchers!

They were shopping at Lafferty last week. “You feel like you know them when you talk. Usually other buyers don’t even realize there are royalties there.

Pointing to the winding queues for the Park & ​​Ride bus to Balmoral, set up by Aberdeenshire Council in a valiant effort to avoid traffic jams, she added: ‘I expect this may more locals come up when it calms down. Yesterday the atmosphere was very dark, but today it has gone crazy. Balmoral and Deeside were renowned for being the Queen’s favorite place for a break – the 61,500-acre estate, which stretches into the Cairngorm Mountains, her back garden. There she herded Highland cattle, tracked deer and took Land Rovers deep into the hills, sometimes surprising hikers.

Cementing a tradition started by Queen Victoria, who acquired Balmoral with Prince Albert in the 1850s, the Queen immersed herself in Deeside life. She opened schools, attended Crathie Kirk – this is where Princess Anne married Timothy Laurence in 1992 – and patronized the Braemar Highland Gathering. An additional sign of her fragility, she was unable to attend matches this month; his son Charles, then using his Scottish title, Duke of Rothesay, went in his place.

Edinburgh is preparing for thousands of well-wishers to line the streets as the Queen’s coffin is brought to the Palace of Holyroodhouse. Photography: Bernat Armangue/AP

After Ballater, the hearse will head east along the A93 via Aboyne, Banchory and Peterculter, before taking the A90 south through Dundee and Perth. He will reach Edinburgh around six hours later, where Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon will watch his passing with other party leaders. The coffin will remain at the Palace of Holyroodhouse, his official residence in Scotland, before being laid to rest at St Giles Cathedral on Monday.

The ambience at the gates of Balmoral, where bouquets and bouquets rested against the low granite walls, the volume of flowers swelling and filling the air with a sweet aroma, was restrained and undemonstrative.

With the autumn sun providing a welcome break from heavy rain, a long, silent queue had formed across the deck to the gates. There were cyclists in Lycra, teenagers in hoodies, women wearing simple roses, an ex-soldier with medals, children in buggies and tourists recording the event on their smartphones. They had been asked to strip their cellophane bouquets, to allow the huge range of flowers to be mulched and recycled for council parks and gardens.

This is the Aberdeenshire way, said Rob Adamson, a local who was born in 1953, the year of the Queen’s coronation. “I feel like the way people are is reflected in what’s under your feet. And we have granite, wind and weather,” he said. “We wouldn’t want to be perceived as demonstrative. If there were to be tears, it would be for a private place.


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