Silence stood as the Queen’s hearse emerged from the castle gates, the flow of the River Dee the only sound in the air, her final and extraordinary journey through Scotland was underway.
A wreath of flowers and fir trees collected from the grounds of the estate by staff over the weekend traveled with her, a piece of the place the late Queen loved most – and a token of the sweet adornment of the nature she adored so much.
The motorcade emerged shortly after 10 a.m. as planned after family and staff gathered outside the castle to bid farewell. The Queen’s Piper played Balmoral and then Glen Gelder, a piece written as a tribute to a special place that lies north of Lochnagar.
Balmoral sheds a tear for the Queen’s death on a dark and stormy day
As the final notes rose through the air, six gamekeepers lifted the coffin into the Mercedes, the workers, no doubt held in very high regard by the late Queen, rightly assisting her on her final trip to through his beloved campaign.
Under the Royal Standard of Scotland she went, her daughter the Royal Princes and her husband Commander Tim Laurence following in the second carriage for the six-hour journey to the throne room of the Palace of Holyrood House.
Also among the procession were the Reverend Kenneth MacKenzie, Minister of Crathie Kirk, who led prayers for the Royal Family on Saturday, and the Earl of Dalhousie, Royal Steward and Chief of Clan Ramsay, whose home at Brechin Castle was a halt planned for the procession. .
As members of the remaining royals, including Prince Andrew and his daughters, departed Deeside for Edinburgh by helicopter, the motorcade slowed to the pace of the march in Ballater, a place deeply rooted in royal connection.
Henry Irvine-Fortescue, Deputy Lord Lieutenant of Kincardineshire, said the sight of the motorcade heading towards the village was an “extremely moving moment”.
He said: ‘The crowd fell silent in the most reverential manner as the hearse passed. There was no applause, just a silence that showed respect and love for the queen.
“I think there was a real sense of loss and grief here after his death.”
At 12:30 p.m. Charles III’s proclamation as King was read from the steps of the village’s Glenmuick Church by Jim Savage, Chief Executive of Aberdeenshire Council and Registrar to the three Lord Lieutenants of the Historic Counties of Aberdeenshire.
“God Save The King” was repeated by the assembled crowd in another historic moment witnessed by many in recent days.
Alexander Mason, Lord Lieutenant of Aberdeenshire, said: “It is a momentous day, one of the most historic moments we will ever witness.
“We are all so saddened by the loss of Her Majesty, but we also think that if there is one small thing we should be grateful for, it is that the Queen loved the North East of Scotland and Deeside and that she spent her last days at Balmoral.”
After Ballater it was on to Aboyne, Peterculter and Aberdeen, where thousands awaited the procession as history unfolded before them.