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Soon: Queen's Coffin Will Be Flown From Edinburgh To London; Soon: Coffin Arrives At Edinburgh Airport For Flight To London. Aired 12-12:30p ET

Aired September 13, 2022 - 12:00   ET



MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. That's right, John. If you joined me here outside the gates of Buckingham Palace, you can see there are already many, many people that have come to pay their respects. Again, even though they're being kept back and not allowed to lay flowers here anymore. The flowers that were laid here had been taken away and put elsewhere at the flower garden where there's a memorial been set up.

But you're right. Within the next couple of hours, the coffin of Queen Elizabeth will be making its way by British military plane - transport planes C-17. In fact, Globemaster are one of Britain's biggest strategic air lifters that was used in Ukraine and in Afghanistan as well for military purposes. And it just shows you that all the services are being involved in what is an enormous logistical operation that has swung into force.

She will be coming here within the next couple of hours, seven o'clock local time 2pm your time inside Buckingham Palace where the Queen's casket will be placed in the Bow Room, which is a room right at the back of Buckingham Palace there, which bow windows open out onto the acres of parkland that lie behind Buckingham Palace.

It will then be a vigil there with members of the Church of England overseeing it on a constant basis until two o'clock tomorrow on Wednesday 2:22, in fact, when there will be that procession from Buckingham Palace here, through the streets, through the Mall towards Westminster Abbey where the Queen will be placed - Queen Elizabeth II casket will be placed. And she will lay in state there until the morning of her funeral on Monday of next week, so nearly five days.

During that five days, it is going to be an enormous logistical operation. Hundreds of thousands of people are expected to line up, to wait very patiently some of them overnight, in order to pay their respects and file past the coffin of Queen Elizabeth the second. Starting on Monday the state funeral will be held, world leaders including President Biden and a bunch of other kind of prominent leaders around the world are going to be coming to attend that state funeral.

So that in itself is going to be a huge security operation, as well. The Queen's body will eventually be laid to rest in Windsor Castle in the royal vaults there. But a very emotional, very difficult few days ahead of us here in Britain, John?

JOHN KING, CNN HOST, INSIDE POLITICS: A are difficult days. Nic Robertson as you join in, every detail, every second, every inch of these processions from Scotland. Now we are waiting at the airport in Edinburgh, you see their motorcade beginning to approach. And you see in the wider shots with the jet on the tarmac. You see the rolling hills of Scotland behind. This part of the meticulous days and days of ceremonies are crafted by the Queen herself.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Indeed, I believe those will be the Pentland Hills just south of Edinburgh, that will be seen in the background of that picture of the jet waiting there. But it's not just the physical and logistical preparations that have been worked down to the detail. I think it's also been the words and the script, if you will, that the new king will follow.

And this was really shown today, when King Charles, the Queen Consort came to Northern Ireland, one of the four parts of the United Kingdom, to have a service of reflection with leaders of the communities here, and also to receive condolences from the parliament, from the speaker of parliament here.

And why I talk about the well-crafted and well-chosen words because in Northern Ireland words can mean a lot. There is a pro-British community here, and a pro-Irish, pro United Ireland community here. And when King Charles spoke of his mother's efforts to help with peace here, he spoke in terms of trying to help the people of this place because the words here are so sensitive.

In Northern Ireland, if you say, Northern Ireland, then that implies you're pro-British. If you're pro United Ireland, you would say the North of Ireland. So, the King choosing his words so carefully. He talked about the pain felt by those who felt separated by history that his mother had worked to overcome that, of course, a reference to the fact that Northern Ireland was carved off from the rest of Ireland who's speaking across all communities here.

And the support and love for the monarchy really on display here, particularly by the pro-British community who were out here outside St Anne's Cathedral, who the King waved to when he arrived and came out and spoke to them and shook their hands afterwards. All of these details are details that will have been worked out in advance. But again, I think reflecting on what we've seen here in Northern Ireland today, it's been those words, the words that have been so well choreographed, John.


KING: And that's remarkable as well. There is so many remarkable elements to this as we say farewell to Britain's longest reigning monarch, you're getting a hello if you will, an introduction to the new King at the same time and the delicate diplomacy. He faces again as we watched the motorcade approach, the airport in Edinburgh here, Queen Elizabeth II will be flown from Scotland to London.

Let's bring into our conversation, our CNN royal historian Kate Williams and Mary Jordan of The Washington Post. Kate Williams, I want to pick up on a point that Nic and Matthew making about the careful choreography here the history at play here.

One slice of this history, and I want your insights and thoughts on it, is Princess Anne one of the Queen's daughters of course, has been with the Queen's casket the entire time, standing guard over the Queen during the vigil of the princess. It's the first time a woman has participated in this ceremony. Again, a plan that has meticulously crafted over the years anticipating this sad day in this sad period. What do you see is the significance of that for Princess Anne?

KATE WILLIAMS, CNN ROYAL HISTORIAN: Yes, John. Good afternoon. What a significant day. This very moving pictures you're showing now of the Queen's coffin, the Queen going from Edinburgh, where she has been lying in state for the people of Scotland, a visitor to London where she will be lying in state once more for the people in London who, as you've been saying, people are already queuing up. There are going to be millions and millions of people queuing for her.

And there has been such planning, such choreography. Every detail of this has worked out to the dotting the I's and crossing the t's, and whether or not she was to pass in London or Scotland or elsewhere. And Princess Anne's role has been very, very crucial. And she is the first woman ever to do this. The first woman to keep vigil. It's usually a male job and she's accompanying the Queen the whole time.

You can see the distress on her face, the pain on her face. But this really reflects the Queen's special bond with Princess Anne and her respect for Princess Anne, the rules of succession post Princess Anne to the bottom of the list. You know, her older younger brothers came ahead of her that would - that law was changed in 2013.

But the Queen is really showing how much and means to her that Anne's escorting her on this final journey, the Queen's final journey and also the Queen's final state engagement. She planned all this. She knew people wants to see her. And this is - both people showing respect to her, and also the Queen showing respect to her people in really planning out everything that was going to happen in these sad final days.

KING: And you see as the procession goes through. There's the coffin of Queen Elizabeth II behind, here you see the crown atop, the hearse following her status Queen Anne's vehicle. Mary Jordan as you come into the conversation, that every moment of this including the prominent role of Princess and in some ways, this won't be the right choice of words. But Queen Elizabeth's last words or her last statement, her last mission.

MARY JORDAN, THE WASHINGTON POST: You know, one of the key things here is that the planners were worried that there'd be a crush, too many people coming to London. And so that they do have these moments, like in Scotland where people can come and say that they saw the hearse pass by, but it's kind of tricky these days to even know.

Right now, outside, it's raining here in London. And I'm really struck where you every single block down near Buckingham Palace and near where she's going to lie in state at Westminster has got new guards on it. I mean, the metal gates have gone up. The guards have come out. There is all kinds of people that have kind of reflective gear. They're going to be standing there overnight, like crossing guards.

But I think there is kind of a little bit of an unease ahead of time like, well, what if everyone's listening to the radio, there's been wall to wall coverage and nobody comes because they're not nobody, but we'll see if, you know, how big these crowds. I mean, no doubt there's already people lining up and there's thousands lining up now. But I think there's been so much discussion about, you know, how big and these lines are going to be that we just don't know yet.

KING: And for watching the photos here at the airport in Edinburgh. Listen, listening in as you hear the ceremony. Let's listen for just a moment. Waiting for the motorcade. And as we do Kate Williams, among the many remarkable elements of all of this, you see this giant war plane there that carries troops, carries weapons, carries military hardware into battle around the globe, will now again carry Britain's longest reigning monarch Queen Elizabeth from Scotland back to London.


You see Princess Anne standing there, watching as this plays out. The honor guard coming up behind, just watch. Kate Williams, as you watched this scene of reverence, scene of honor and duty, playing out in Edinburgh, as we wait to see the coffin lifted from the hearse and carried aboard the military jet. Your thoughts?

WILLIAMS: Yes, John. The Royal Regiment of Scotland here, the guards of honor. They are all accompanying her and as just watching the Queen, the coffin come from the hearse into the Royal Air Force aircraft by the Royal Air Force bearer party, while the regiment of Scotland and there is the honor guard.

And there is Princess Anne and her husband Tim Laurence waiting, watching this moment that reminds us that the Queen was both the head of state and the longest reigning monarch in Britain, second longest in the world, but also a mother to Princess Anne and her three sons, and a grandmother and a great grandmother.

This incredibly moving moment where we see really, the Queen passed in Balmoral, her favorite place. She loves Scotland, and this is her final goodbye to Scotland. As she comes to London, she comes to Buckingham Palace, and there she will lay in state, and we have the state funeral. So, it really is our final goodbye to Queen Elizabeth II and her era. It's not understating it to say this is truly the end of an era.

KING: The end of an era. Mary Jordan and to Kate's point, it gets lost sometimes, but you see reminders in the moving words of King Charles, in the statements of other members of the royal family, the royals are a distinct and unique family, a distinct and unique institution. And yet, as you see Princess Anne watching there. That's her mother. She's a mother, she's a grandmother, so head of state, but the family piece of this is quite touching in these last few days. JORDAN: And also, you know, there's a lot going on behind the symbolism of these images. She's coming from Scotland to London. She wanted Scotland to stay united as many, many people do, but some don't. There's a whole independence movement. This is a unifying moment. We have her coming down now in the coffin, kind of showing this this unity here, kind of the tradition.

At the same time the new king, her son, right King Charles II was in Northern Ireland, where there's a lot of unease and concern. Of course, everybody knows, you know, the troubles are not long behind us. And right now, there is particular unease up there. So, you know, I think a lot of the discussion here is the planning and people are saying, my God is going on a lot of days.


But it's more than just these photos. This is an attempt by a lot of people that would like the U.K. to stay strong after her passing because she was the glue in many ways. And then many, many people have a very different feeling for her than her son. And I think people think that what she's doing now and all these images that we're seeing and careful planning about moving to different parts of the United Kingdom has a big purpose.

KING: As we watch the ceremony here at the Edinburgh airport, Nic Robertson, to the point very Jordan was just making, there is great goodwill for Queen Elizabeth. And you see here in Scotland, where you are today, you mentioned the new kings visit to Northern Ireland. I guess one of the questions is, does this goodwill carry over to the new king or with the passing of Queen Elizabeth? Do the pro- independence forces see a moment to accelerate their efforts?

ROBERTSON: There are so many different pieces at play right now in Northern Ireland, and even in the politics of the south of Ireland. We think here in the North of Sinn Fein. Now the biggest political party here in terms of seats in the power sharing government, that pro-Irish party. But they're also a huge power in the south of Ireland. Now, in the last election, they got most seats. Most MPs elected, TDs elected in the south of Ireland at the last election.

So, they're a political force across the island. However, I think in the context of your question, does it shift that dynamic for a push for United Ireland, backwards or forwards? I think that the king picks up from where his mother had left off, she was a voice of reconciliation that was so much - that was central to the eulogy and the service in St Anne's Cathedral here earlier on today.

That she has really sort of given King Charles the best opportunity to continue those efforts. He has come here now his 40th visit today. His first was king, but his 40th overall. The Queen had famously shaken the hands with Martin McGuinness, a former paramilitary commander - a pro United Ireland paramilitary commander. Behind the scenes, unless publicly known about when he was Prince Charles. Now King Charles had met with another leading figure within those paramilitaries, Gerry Adams. So, the connections there exists. But despite the speeches we've heard today from the speaker of the power sharing government here, despite his speech that spoke to the broad support for the Queen, for what she has been doing, the broad support for the king of what it's hoped that he will do. This politician represents also the anti-monarchy pro United Ireland party. So, the forces of change are in flux. And they're rising with the nationalist pro United Ireland party. So in a way, King Charles is fighting against a tide of history, but he hinted about that in his speech today.

KING: And Matthew Chance in London, those questions will be answered as we get through the other side of the big state funeral on Monday, where you have a new king, where you have a brand-new U.K. prime minister, as well. But at this moment, we just saw as Nic was speaking, princess and other members of the royal family are boarding this massive military jet on the ground in Edinburgh. It is just moments away from taxi. And when it lands Matthew, it will be where you are in London for the next phase of this critical and emotional farewell.

CHANCE: That's right, John. Yes. It's about an hour and 45 minutes from now is when this C-17 Globemaster military aircraft of the Royal Air Force is expected to land at RAF Northolt, which has an airport short distance outside London in fact. And then the casket with Queen Elizabeth II will be brought here to Buckingham Palace where, as I mentioned, she will be placed in a private chamber at the back of Buckingham Palace.


It's called the Bow Room. And it's called that because it's got a massive window, bow window overlooking the very beautiful parkland that exists outside the back of Buckingham Palace, looking at vigil there, clerics from the Church of England will be in constant attendance and that will continue through the night until 2:22 tomorrow, Wednesday, local time, here in London.

At which point, the very mournful procession will begin with the Queen's casket being carried on a gun carriage through the streets of London to Westminster Abbey. It will take about 45 minutes or so for that to - for that to take place, and the streets will be lined with mourners, thousands - tens of thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands of people who will be trying to catch a glimpse of that funeral procession, as it makes its way to one of the oldest parts, the 11th century part of Westminster, of that location where she's going to be going.

At that point, she will be laid in state, which means that that will be an opportunity for members of the public to file past her coffin. And to pay their respects. It's going to be a big logistical undertaking, because as I say, hundreds of thousands of people over the course of nearly five days until her funeral on Monday morning, are going to be lining up.

They're going to be - have to be checked for security reasons, there's some of them are going to have to line up overnight. For hours upon hours, they're going to have to be fed and looked after as well to take the refreshments with them. And so, it's going to be very difficult for them. But the expectation is, is that that is going to take a long time, and we're going to be a lot of people willing to do that. Partly out of respect, mostly out of respect, because the Queen is held in such esteem, because of hope, but also because it's witnessing history, John?

KING: We'll just listening now for a moment as we watch a royal salute here from the Scottish guard at the airport in Edinburgh. Kate Williams, as we watch this scene play out, you were talking about the end of an era. It is remarkable. I have spoken many times to members of the United States military who serve in these distinct honor guards.

And they talked about what an honor and a privilege it is, even though it can be most difficult duty at a moment like this when we see this scene at the airport, an end of an era Yes, a sad day, yes, but has to be high honor for the members of these military units who are so critical. The farewell to the Queen.

WILLIAMS: Yes, John. And watching the Royal Regiment of Scotland here, the precision, and it's so moving these images that you're showing as the plane here gets ready to take off to bring the Queen from Edinburgh to London. And the forces were always so important to Her Majesty, she herself when she was a young girl, when she was a teenager demanded from her father that she'd be allowed to serve in World War II, just like other girls.

And she said, we trained to be an ambulance driver, driving sick and wounded soldiers from battlefield to the hospitals, she trained to do that. And veterans were always so important to that the armed forces were always one of our greatest priorities. And it means so much. I've spoken to some of the soldiers who've been involved in in some of the preparations.

And it means so much to them, that they are part of this. They're part of this paying respects to the Queen, the head of the armed forces, and also to be a part of history. They all do find it. They've been telling me go moving, and I think we could see that on the face of the soldiers here. Of course, they are very precision. They are very disciplined, but they can also see how - what a momentous moment it is for them.

KING: And Mary Jordan on the other end of this journey is London you were touching on it a bit earlier. For most Britons or most people who live in the Commonwealth, the only Queen they have ever known the only monarch they have ever known.

JORDAN: You know, this reminds me of my mother. I grew up in Cleveland, and I was just a baby and she just - went John F. Kennedy died. She got on a bus and went to Washington. And I was too little them. But I asked her later. And she just said I didn't know what else to do. I couldn't do anything else. He had died. It's a little bit like this course very different because she was much, much older and was expected. But both of these people died, and people feel, you know, what else can I do? [12:25:00]

And so, that's why they're lining up. And it is just, you know, kind of the hat's off to you. I was just talking to somebody, and you know, there was just cute the way he was saying, you know, he was a man from Latin America, who had come here married someone from Czechoslovakia and he runs a shop in central London. And he said, you know, it's going to be a nightmare here the next few days. But you know, she gave it a good go. And I'm going to line up and go see her at the very end. And so, you can't do anything else. But you can line up. And you know, say hats off.

KING: I love those words. She gave it a good go. Indeed, she did. Kate Williams, help with perspective. In the sense that last night, one of the privileges of the work I do is especially 10 years covering the White House, I get to travel the world.

And so last night, just out of curiosity, I pulled out an old box, I keep my office at home, and pulled out currency, you bring back from trips around the world. We always bring a couple of bills back or a couple of coins back as souvenirs. And Queen Elizabeth II is on currency the globe over. This is an obviously a moment of sadness in history for the U.K., but her global presence over 70 years cannot be understated.

WILLIAMS: Yes, John. She's had this global presence. The Queen was head of state of the United Kingdom, but also of other countries, 14 other countries until Barbados last year became a republic, and the head of the commonwealth, 56 countries in the commonwealth, of which the Queen frequently visiting Canada 22 times.

So many countries she went to. She was our most traveled monarch in history around the world. 42 times, if you add it up, visiting 120 countries. She really saw diplomacy, soft power state visits is very important. And they weren't just smiling and waving.

Just as Nic was talking about earlier, her role in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, when she went on the historic state visits in 2011, to the Republic of Ireland, and really acted as it, you know, gave an apology for the acts of the British government during the troubles, said about things that should have been done differently and things that should not been done at all, visited the garden of remembrance, spoken Gaelic.

You know, she had this key role this and she always talked about the importance of peace. She lived through the horrors of World War II. We often talk about World War II in Britain, but very few of us can remember it, the Queen could and the regular fear of the Blitz. And that's why peace and bringing countries together was always so much what she tried to do.

KING: Again, we're waiting, if you've just joined us, you're watching C-17 Royal Air Force jet, the coffin of Queen Elizabeth II placed on board a short time ago, any moment now a journey little more than an hour, from Edinburgh, Scotland to London, where we are told King Charles and the Queen Consort have arrived and will be there to greet her back to Matthew Chance in London.

As this plays out, Matthew, again, the dynamic of Prince Charles well known, of course, to everyone in the U.K. and to many around the world. What is your observation so far on any differences or any interests we have seen in the early days of King Charles?

CHANCE: It's interesting because the - and I mentioned this before, but the accession of Prince Charles to become King Charles was automatic, of course, he was his mother's son who was next in line to the throne. There was no debate about it. And it's happened and he is now that the king of the United Kingdom and the 14 other countries that the Queen was the moniker.

What's not automatic is the sort of transfer of the esteem and the respect that was enjoyed by his mother. You know, he has to work for that. And I think that's why we were talking about this earlier with Nic Robertson up in Scotland. That's why King Charles, with the Queen Consort has been making this very determined, deliberately planned tour of the various constituent parts of the United Kingdom Showing his presence, meeting dignitaries, but also meeting the public as well.

And I remember a couple of days ago, when King Charles came first to Buckingham Palace, and he stepped out of his car, and he went to meet the public for the first time as king. And he could see the look of anxiety, trepidation on his face because he didn't know how he was going to be received. You know, he's not his mother. You know, he doesn't have the same level of respect in this country as his mother does.