The Queen’s Farewell To Scotland Heralded With Quiet Symbolism


A recent news article published in the BBC talks about quiet symbolism of the Queen’s farewell to Scotland.

Queen Elizabeth’s love of Scotland

King Charles has spoken about his mother’s love of Scotland “in whose hills, and in the hearts of whose people, she found a refuge”. Today she will leave that Scotland for the last time.

In life, Queen Elizabeth came to embody that deep and abiding bond the King evoked on Monday in the chamber at Holyrood – the bond of a shared history and a common identity across the United Kingdom.

Scotland today has, arguably, been diverging from the rest of the UK politically for 40 years. Support for independence remains below 50% – but not by much – and among the young it is much higher than that.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon wants an independent Scotland – but if that comes to pass, to retain the monarchy with King Charles and his heirs on the Scottish throne.

Charles begins the reign

As King, Charles will have to keep his views on that prospect to himself. But he begins a reign that will be very finely attuned to the sensibilities of Scotland and the distinctiveness of its traditions and institutions.

That he has chosen to begin his reign with visits to Edinburgh, Belfast and Cardiff is telling. It suggests that the future of the Union is at the heart of his concerns. The early decades of his late mother’s reign were characterised by the long slow contraction of British Imperial power overseas. He will be alert to the possibility that his own reign could come to be defined by the continuation of that process here, and the eventual dissolution of the United Kingdom itself.

But all that is for another day. On Monday, kilted soldiers of the Royal Regiment of Scotland formed a bearer party and carried the coffin of the Queen from the privacy of the Throne Room at Holyrood Palace.

Her four children walked slowly up the steep incline of that ancient thoroughfare known as the Royal Mile, following their mother’s hearse.

The eyes of the world intrude on their private sorrow. They must subordinate their own grief to the imperatives of public ritual. It is the way they have lived their lives.

The Queen’s coffin was carried into St Giles Cathedral, the High Kirk of Edinburgh, where the Queen had sometimes worshipped, not as head of the Church here, but simply as a member.

Here, they placed on the coffin the Crown of Scotland, made in the 16th Century for her ancestor James V.

Honours of Scotland

It is the centre-piece of the Scottish crown jewels – also known as the Honours of Scotland. Consider the quiet symbolism of this – it is a gesture toward the distinctive character of Scotland’s historic nationhood.

“Here at St Giles,” said the parish minister, the Reverend Calum MacLeod, “John Knox confronted Mary Queen of Scots, King James VI argued about liturgy, Oliver Cromwell preached, and our late Queen received the Honours of Scotland,” on her accession to the throne 70 years ago.

The Scottish parliament she opened 23 years ago is the centre of public and political life here now. The King and Queen Consort were escorted into the chamber by the King’s bodyguard in Scotland, the Royal Company of Archers.

The MSPs stood for a two-minute silence

Each party leader spoke in support of a motion of condolence, beginning with First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

“Our nation is in mourning for a Queen whose loss we have not yet begun to come to terms with,” Ms Sturgeon told the chamber. “We are deeply honoured by the presence today of His Majesty King Charles III and the Queen Consort. Your Majesty, we stand ready to support you as you continue your own life of service and as you build on the extraordinary legacy of your beloved mother, our Queen. Queen Elizabeth, Queen of Scots, we are grateful for her life. May she now rest in peace.”

The King replied: “My mother felt as I did the greatest admiration for the Scottish people,” he said. “For their magnificent achievements, and their indomitable spirit, and it was the greatest comfort to her to know in turn the true affection in which she was held. The knowledge of that deep and abiding bond must be, to us, as solid, as we mourn the end of a life of incomparable service.”

The Queen’s coffin

The Queen’s coffin will today be taken to London to lie in state at Westminster Great Hall.

What will remain of that legacy, when this period of mourning is over and she recedes into the middle distance of our collective memory?

That question will be at the heart of the new reign that began when she died.

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Source: BBC


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