By Marco Trujillo
BALLATER, Scotland (Reuters) - For some of the mourners who gathered on Sunday in the Scottish Highlands village of Ballater, close to Queen Elizabeth's summer residence, watching her coffin pass by on Sunday felt like bidding farewell to a dear neighbour.
Hundreds of people lined a road https://www.reuters.com/world/uk/queen-elizabeths-close-connection-scotland-2022-09-11 in the village to witness the cortege of vehicles, including a hearse bearing the queen's remains, shortly after it left Balmoral Castle heading for Edinburgh via Aberdeen and Dundee.
"It was incredibly important for us to be here to see the queen off," Pauline Lawson, 62, said. "She loved Ballater, she loved Royal Deeside, and we loved her as well. There was no question that we would not be here to see her off."
"It's just very, very sad. I’m happy I was here to say our goodbyes," said Elizabeth Alexander, 69, who was born on the day that Queen Elizabeth was crowned in 1953.
Nicola Gibson said it was important to have made the journey to Ballater to pay her respects.
"I think she's going to be a big miss to the UK. She did a lot for the country," Gibson said.
Elizabeth died on Thursday at Balmoral, where she enjoyed spending summer holidays, at the age of 96. Her oak coffin, which had lain in the ballroom of Balmoral covered with the royal standard flag of Scotland and a wreath of flowers, was placed in the hearse by six gamekeepers from the castle's estate.
The convoy emerged from the gates of the grounds to start the drive to Edinburgh, initially following a road that flanked the shimmering waters of the River Dee under a sunny sky with peaks of the Cairngorms National Park in the background.
The cortege was due to take six hours to arrive at Edinburgh's Palace of Holyroodhouse.
On Monday, the coffin https://www.reuters.com/world/uk/plans-run-up-queen-elizabeths-funeral-2022-09-10 will be taken to St Giles' Cathedral on the Scottish capital's Royal Mile with Elizabeth's son, the new King Charles, and other royal family members following on foot.
On Tuesday it will be flown to London ahead of a state funeral on Sept. 19 for the woman who reigned for 70 years.
"There's a sense of loss in passing but also there's a sense of celebration in the queen’s life," said Henry Irvine-Fortescue, 64, the deputy lieutenant of Kincardineshire, a nearby historic county.
"She was such a remarkable woman and what she's done and how she's represented our nation has been remarkable, and we love her for that."
(Reporting by Marco Trujillo in Ballater; Writing by William Schomberg; Editing by Frances Kerry)