Queen funeral: Mourners gather at Holyrood Park for ‘lovely, sombre’ farewell to late monarch

Overlooked by the Queen’s official Edinburgh residence, the ruins of a 12th-century abbey, the Scottish Parliament and the capital’s landmark hill Arthur’s Seat, Holyrood Park was a fitting location for a live screening of the monarch’s state funeral.

A crowd of around 1,000 people gathered at the site to watch the broadcast on a giant screen set up for the occasion by Edinburgh City Council.

The atmosphere was informal, but solemn – more comfy-casual than suited and booted, with many arriving by bike with children and dogs in tow.

The weather remained fine throughout, with the sun breaking out to provide a bit of welcome warmth.

People gather to watch Queen Elizabeth II funeral on a large screen at Holyrood Park. Picture: Michael Gillen

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People had come from all over the Scottish capital as well as much further afield to mark the historic event.

Tracy McDougall and Trevor Thompson had come over the hill from the Duddingston area of Edinburgh, on the other side of Arthur’s Seat.

Ms McDougall said: “I live in Edinburgh and just wanted to come and pay my respects because she’s been with us all my life.

“The atmosphere here is lovely. It was very quiet walking down, the streets were very quiet – it was quite nice.”

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Onlookers at Holyrood Park watch the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II. Picture: Lisa Ferguson

Mr Thompson, who has the Queen’s ER insignia inked on his wrist, added: “I just wanted to come down and pay my respects to a woman who has done her job for 70 years and been faultless.

“I think it’s bringing people together.

“The atmosphere is quite sombre. But it’s nice, whether you’re a royalist or not, that everybody gets together.”

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Crowds watch the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II from Holyrood Park. Picture: Lisa Ferguson

Roberta Witty, from Connecticut in the US, is in Edinburgh on holiday.

“I came out to the park to watch the funeral with everybody,” she said.

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“I wanted to be a part of everything. I wouldn’t miss it, so I’m watching everything on TV, at home, here.

“The occasion has really brought people together. I think the Queen is such an anchor for inclusiveness and respect and dignity.

Tracy McDougall and Trevor Thompson, who has the Queen’s ER insignia tattooed on his wrist, came from the Duddingston area of Edinburgh to watch the Queen's funeral on the big screen in Holyrood park

“She was just a remarkable woman. It makes me cry.”

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Ms Witty admits she was “shocked” when the Queen died, despite her advanced years, and it brought back personal memories.

“I mean everyone knew it was going to happen,” she said.

“But when it happened, it’s a different emotional experience.

“I lost my mum in 2018. She was 94 – a similar age, similar look – and so it does bring up those emotions as well.”

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She met Jill from Edinburgh as they waited for the funeral to begin.

Finn, Michelle and Cameron Hoggan, who live in Grantham, Lincolnshire, were in Edinburgh for a pre-planned visit and decided to come to Holyrood for the live broadcast

“I find it very moving,” Jill said.

“I’m very touched by people’s response throughout the whole country, the whole world, and also the emphasis on the Queen’s character and service, her example.

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“I think it’s so important to be here today – it’s a historical moment.

“I’m sitting here by Holyrood Palace and I’ve just been very moved by seeing the royal pipers and bands, the atmosphere, being with all the other people in this setting.”

She said the Queen’s “humility, grace, compassion and genuine interest in other people, her humour and steadfast service and courtesy” were admirable.

Susan and Karina Maxwell and their daughters Abbey and Gracie came from Silverknowes in the north-west of Edinburgh.

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Susan said: “We just wanted to come down and pay our respects and to share it with other people, and the kids.

“It has been really emotional. But I think the time for mourning is just about over, and it’s now about celebrating her life and moving on.”

Louise Gladstone and Derek Wallace also came from Duddingston.

“We wanted to pay our respects, but we didn’t want to sit in the house on our own and do it,” said Ms Gladstone.

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“We thought it would be better coming here, with the backdrop of the palace as well. It just seemed appropriate.”

Mr Wallace admitted the couple are “not traditionally monarchists”, but the funeral marked a “great sense of occasion for a great woman”.

He said: “I think it’s fabulous that people of all creeds and colours and religions have gathered here today to pay their respects to someone they’ve never known effectively.

“That’s a great thing, bringing people together.

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“I think it has been a divided nation for a long time and this is great for unification.”

Eugene Rodriguez, from Miami in the US, has been on holiday in the UK with his dog Nanuk for the past month.

“The Queen means a lot to us in the States,” he said.

“She represents elegance, tradition, structure – everything that Americans believe in as well.

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“And I think it has all been beautifully done. I’ve been watching all of it the whole time I’ve been here. It’s very moving.

“This is one of the first places I’ve been in person.

“Coming to Edinburgh, seeing all the flowers, it’s kind of nice that I got a moment to physically be in an environment where she was just recently. It’s nice, really nice.

“She loved Scotland, and you can feel that people here loved her too. So it’s really touching. That’s why I came up here to this field. I thought it was just much nicer to be in this environment with all the other people, versus a hotel room.”

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The Hoggan family was visiting from Grantham in Lincolnshire.

“The pomp and circumstance around it makes you realise none of us has seen anything like this in our lifetime,” said father Finn, originally from Dunfermline.

“It’s funny. I’m deeply Scottish, so it’s been a bit of a surprise how I’ve felt.

“After she passed it just made us realise how important it is. And just listening to this – how long she reigned, the people she met and influenced – it’s a shock.”

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Wife Michelle said: “It’s being part of history – history in the making.

“It’s emotional as well. It brings back memories of our own family.”

Son Cameron added: “The length of her service has been unbelievable.

“It’s like they’ve been saying a moment ago – the first US president she met was Harry Truman and then the first prime minister was Winston Churchill.

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“It just feels like that was a completely different part of history.”

As well as the big-screen event in Edinburgh’s Holyrood Park, a number of pubs, churches and other venues across Scotland showed the live broadcast of the funeral.

Vue cinemas hosted free screenings in a number of UK cities, including Aberdeen and Glasgow, while the Royal British Legion in Oldmeldrum, St Bryce Kirk in Kirkcaldy and Balmoral Bar in Ballater were among those which also hosted showings.

Karina and Susan Maxwell brought their children Abbey and Gracie to Holyrood Park - complete with their own castle - to be part of the historic event

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Louise Gladstone and Derek Wallace, from Duddingston in Edinburgh, wanted to pay their respects but didn’t want to sit in the house on their own to do it -- they felt the backdrop of the palace was appropriate
Eugene Rodriguez, from Miami in the US, has been on holiday in the UK with his dog Nanuk for the past month -- he highlighted how much the Queen meant to his fellow Americans said he has found the ceremonies and tributes very moving
Roberta Witty, from Connecticut in the US, is in Scotland on holiday and met Jill from Edinburgh in Holyrood Park as they waited for the funeral to begin
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