Let’s take a look at “What It Was Really Like To Be In Scotland When The Queen Died” Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II passed away on September 8, 2022, at Balmoral Castle in Scotland (via Reuters). On that very same day, I happened to be on holiday in Scotland, touring the beautiful nation. As news of the queen’s death began to spread, our group of American tourists wasn’t sure what to expect. 

“Like so many people, I’ve never known another monarch,” one U.K. resident told us. The shock was the first emotion that hit. At 96 years old, Queen Elizabeth had lived a long, dutiful life — yet to many, she came across as invincible. It somehow seemed like she might never die. Yet there we were, entering into a new era while honoring a monarch beloved and respected by so many.

What It Was Really Like To Be In Scotland When The Queen Died
What It Was Really Like To Be In Scotland When The Queen Died

The first few moments after news broke of Queen Elizabeth’s death, things seemed to be completely normal in Scotland. Although continuing with business as usual felt odd, we’d never lived through this historic moment before and therefore didn’t know how the coming days would unfold.

After finishing our walking tour, our group split for dinner. We ended up at a pub along the Royal Mile. The news flashed on all of the TVs, portraying the scene outside of Buckingham palace. Over the course of the next few days, things rapidly began to change.

Charles addressed the nation for the first time as King Charles III

The day after he became king, King Charles III gave his first speech (via CNN). This address made his ascension to the throne real for many, citizens and explorers of Scotland included. We watched the speech play on a continuous loop at pubs throughout the day, and our eyes were glued to the screen as he signed his proclamation with Camilla, the queen consort, by his side (per Hello!). As her son began his reign, we realized that Queen Elizabeth was the last queen we will see in our lifetimes.

King Charles III first address as monarch

This first day after the queen’s death was known as D Day, The Guardian reported. By then, the 10-day plan called Operation London Bridge was well underway. After reading about these events for so long, it was strange to be living it. “As an American, I don’t fully understand the monarchy,” one tourist told us. “But this is an incredibly sad event and it’s surreal to be a part of this moment in history.”

As we walked the Royal Mile, we saw signs going up in store windows honoring Queen Elizabeth II. Police and other officials began getting barriers set up along the streets in preparation for the arrival of the queen’s coffin a couple of days later. Edinburgh Castle and Hollyroodhouse Palace closed their doors, and we felt the city get more populated as mourners started coming to witness the queen’s final journey through Edinburgh.

That night, our hostel’s bar had karaoke night and hundreds of people — foreigners and locals alike — came to sing their hearts out. Behind them, screens showed seemingly endless tributes to Queen Elizabeth.

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Mourners paid tribute at Hollyroodhouse Palace

The Saturday after Queen Elizabeth’s passing, we decided to walk the Royal Mile — the very journey that the queen’s coffin would later take. At the top of the mile sits Edinburgh Castle, and at the bottom, Hollyroodhouse Palace. Roads continued to close and the police presence ramped up. As we approached Hollyroodhouse, we were redirected as they made the journey to the gates one way in and one way out for a better traffic flow as mourners flocked to the area.

Flowers and gifts line gate at Hollyroodhouse

As we got up to the gate, we saw military personnel preparing for the salute. Flowers lined the gates, members of the media prepared to interview people, and scores of mourners honored their queen. It was a very surreal and emotional moment — we were nearly brought to tears, as were many of the people there. While Scotland is currently trying to separate from the U.K., it was still evident that the Scottish people, as well as people from all over the world, felt the impact of Queen Elizabeth’s death. We toasted the queen with Scottish residents at a nearby pub.

Though we could tell there were many mourning Her Majesty, there were also some who were neutral about the event. “I don’t particularly care about the royals,” one pubgoer mentioned to us, while another Scot agreed; “It’s sad, but I don’t believe in monarchy.”

Edinburgh came together to mourn Queen Elizabeth

We left Edinburgh the morning before Queen Elizabeth’s coffin made its journey down the Royal Mile to St. Giles’ Cathedral. As we departed, the crowded roads were lined with mourners. There was a palpable shift in the mood shift as the queen’s arrival drew nearer.

Mourners line street in Edinburgh

Approximately 20,000 people came to Edinburgh to pay their respects to the late queen, according to BBC. King Charles III, Princess Anne, Prince Andrew, and Prince Edward walked behind the car carrying their mother’s casket. Since the vigil at St. Giles’, Queen Elizabeth has returned to London, where her body lies in state at the Palace of Westminster until her funeral on September 19 (via The New York Times).

Being in Scotland when the longest reigning monarch in history passed away was unforgettable; hearing the news, watching the reactions of residents, and seeing first-hand the impact this historic figure had on the lives of the people she represented. Rest in peace, Your Majesty.

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