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Britain continues to mourn the death of Queen Elizabeth II


Britain continues to mourn the death of Queen Elizabeth. Her coffin was conveyed yesterday from her castle in the Scottish Highlands to Edinburgh. Today it will be on public view before being flown to London tomorrow. NPR's Philip Reeves reports.

PHILIP REEVES, BYLINE: The Queen arrives in Edinburgh. The thousands lining the streets fall silent as her cortege approaches. Then, as her hearse passes by, this.


ELAINE WEIR: You can see, with the outpouring of affection and grief, how much she meant to everybody.

REEVES: Elaine Weir is here with her two young daughters. The fact that Edinburgh's the first stop in the queen's final journey through Britain matters a lot, she says.

WEIR: It means everything because mostly with the monarchy, it's very much linked in to London and in to England. But we all know how much Scotland meant to the queen and to the whole royal family. So I think it's lovely for us to be here and witness this event in Scotland, in the capital.

REEVES: We're on the Royal Mile in the ancient heart of Edinburgh. There are bars, cafes and tourist shops selling kilts, whiskey and wool. But it's also home to the key institutions of Scotland's government. That government's ruled by a party seeking full independence from the United Kingdom. Weir believes the number of people who've come to honor the queen sends a message.

WEIR: I think it definitely represents the desire of the people to keep the union together. We do know, over recent years, there has been that divided opinion. But I think you can see here today how important it is the United Kingdom stays as one.

JACK AITKEN: I get quite emotional. I find that I have an affinity with the queen.

REEVES: Jack Aitken is 78. He's a volunteer tourist guide and, he says, a proud Scot.

AITKEN: I'm not a separatist, and I think it's appropriate that she comes here. And I think this whole thing has been planned.

REEVES: You mean it's sending a message?

AITKEN: Yes, uniting the U.K.


REEVES: Hours before the queen's cortege arrives, a crowd gathered on the Royal Mile outside St. Giles' Cathedral, where today her coffin will lie at rest.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: The crown of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is solely and rightfully come to the Prince Charles Philip Arthur George. We therefore...

REEVES: They've come for this ceremony, the formal declaration that her son Charles is king.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: God save the king.

UNIDENTIFIED PEOPLE: God save the king.

REEVES: For the first time, there's dissent from a handful of protesters.


REEVES: Britons may seem united in their grief right now, yet there are some who see things differently.

MARIE FINLAYSON: We're older Scots. We're not here today to shout and protest in that sense. We want a peaceful protest. But all of our friends are apathetic about the monarchy.

REEVES: Marie Finlayson says she's here with her husband to show that not all Scots favor a monarchy.

FINLAYSON: And certainly we should be having a dialogue on a choice about a monarchy, whereas it's been thrust upon us again.

REEVES: Scotland's ruling party, though seeking independence, actually favors keeping the monarchy, says Finlayson.

FINLAYSON: And if independence comes, many people will want to keep the monarchy, and I would have no objection to that if that's what people vote for. But I want Scotland to have the choice.

REEVES: For many Scots who will today line up to pay their last respects beside the coffin of their queen, these arguments are for another time, yet they're unlikely to go away.

Philip Reeves, NPR News, Edinburgh.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Philip Reeves is an award-winning international correspondent covering South America. Previously, he served as NPR's correspondent covering Pakistan, Afghanistan, and India.