Lost in a remote nature park in central Scotland, Balmoral Castle was the final resting place of Queen Elizabeth II and now locals are saying goodbye with peace and great sadness to a woman who was a “role model” for them.
Only a winding local road leads to the castle, surrounded by the lush countryside of Cairgorns Park and washed by the River Dee.
Dozens of residents from the nearby towns of Krati or Ballater came to this place so isolated from the hustle and bustle, which the queen adored and used as a summer residence, to pay their last respects to the sovereign, highly esteemed by her people.
With bouquets of flowers, but also with teddy bears and other gifts, the residents of the area and some onlookers testified their emotion and above all their respect for the dead.
Arranged in a semi-circle around the castle’s main gate, with a large presence of journalists behind, about fifty people took turns to say goodbye to what had been their queen for 70 years.
Some could hardly form a word when asked about their feelings. Others, such as Scotland’s Carly McGregor, remembered not only Elizabeth II, but also the new King Charles III.
“There’s a mix of emotions. We are sad, but very soon we will have a new king. This is very difficult for King Carlos III. A very complicated process for him: the loss of his mother and the next day he has to return to work day. Not many people do that,” he told EFE.
THE PRIDE OF THE NEIGHBORS
The heavy police presence was no obstacle for anyone who wanted to get close to the site. Few hoped to see members of the royal family passing by in their cars, which gradually left the castle.
McGregor admitted that yesterday, through tears, he explained to his children the importance of Elizabeth II and told them stories about the Queen: “She was an incredible inspiration to many, because of her work ethic, because of the way she carried herself and everything that has endured.”
“I’m glad (her death) happened here at Balmoral because I think she was more than happy here,” added her husband Donald McGregor.
That sentiment was echoed by Mary Arklas, who walked to the castle entrance accompanied by her daughter Mia, who considered it an “honour” that Elizabeth II was in Scotland at the time of her death.
The couple made up of Joy and Chris Ojobi, both Nigerians, also came to the castle recalling that their country is part of the Commonwealth (or Commonwealth of Nations) that was so dear to the sovereign.
“She brought the Commonwealth together under that motherly umbrella. Nigeria is part of the Commonwealth and we have felt her love all these countless years,” Joy Ojobi told EFE.
For women, Elizabeth II personified motherhood above all else, especially because of the way she dedicated her life to “serving beyond her family and her people.”
CO-UTILITIES IN THE CAPITAL
In Edinburgh, Scots and many tourists flocked to Holyrood Palace, Scotland’s royal residence, this Friday to lay bouquets of flowers, cards and get a close-up look at the official notice of Elizabeth II’s death hanging from the bars of this majestic building.
“Thank you Your Majesty for your service”, “Thank you for your faithful service to the country”, “Thank you for a lifetime of service. You will be missed,” were some of the messages being prayed on the many flowers that people had started leaving before the palace.
Although there were more tourists than locals, the atmosphere outside this palace was somber, with British and Scottish flags flying at half-mast on public buildings, as well as the European Union (EU) outside Edinburgh’s (regional) parliament.
A Scottish woman who introduced herself as Elsa told EFE outside Holyrood Palace that the death of Queen Elizabeth II was “deeply sad” because it marked “the end of an era. The Queen was synonymous with continuity and solidarity. They were very important to the Scottish people.
Among the tourists was Chilean Ana Maria, who described Isabel II’s service to her country as “wonderful” but noted that the succession line would be “on the right track”.
Some young Spanish women who start studying next week at the University of Edinburgh were surprised by the event, which they described as “historic” and admitted they still did not know if they would have classes.
Edinburgh is already preparing for the expected arrival of Elizabeth II’s coffin at Holyrood Palace, where it will remain for several hours before being taken to St Giles’ Cathedral, in the old part of the city.
Barriers were placed outside the cathedral, surrounded by police and closed until further notice, today to mark the path that citizens will take before entering the religious site to say goodbye to Elizabeth II before her remains are taken away in London for a state funeral.
Guillermo Garrido and Viviana Garcia