Britain's royals inspect floral tributes laid in memory of Queen Elizabeth II

Princess Eugenie was comforted by her father Prince Andrew as she wept

Members of Britain's royal family outside Balmoral Castle on Saturday. AFP
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Members of Britain’s royal family appeared emotional on Saturday as they greeted members of the public and inspected floral tributes laid in memory of Queen Elizabeth II following a church service in Scotland.

Princess Anne, Prince Andrew and Prince Edward and their families were seen reading notes on bouquets of flowers following a private service in memory of the matriarch at Crathie Kirk.

Shortly after the service finished at about 2.30pm, the family began a sombre walk across the bridge over the River Dee towards Balmoral Castle.

They were seen nodding and waving to members of the public who had lined the route towards the royal residence.

Dressed in black, Prince Andrew, who was forced to step down from royal duties in 2019 and earlier this year gave up his HRH style, led the entourage out of the church where his late mother was a regular worshipper. He stopped to chat to a group of people, asking them: “Where do you all come from?”

Asked by a mourner how things were, Andrew said: “We’ve been allowed one day, now we start the process of handing her on.

"It’s nice to see you, thank you for coming."

Princess Anne was accompanied by her husband Timothy Laurence and two adult children Peter Phillips and Zara Tindall.

Prince Edward and his wife Sophie, Countess of Wessex were joined by their daughter Lady Louise. Hearing one group had come from Glasgow to show their support, Edward said: “Thank you very much for coming all that way, we appreciate it.”

The crowd fell silent as they intently read messages and discussed the bouquets with each other.

Andrew was seen comforting his daughters Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie, who was handed a colourful bouquet by one royal fan waiting outside the castle.

Eugenie wept as she took in the scene and was hugged by her father as she wiped away tears.

In a documentary to mark the queen’s 90th birthday, Eugenie revealed that her grandmother adored Balmoral. “I think Granny is the most happy there,” she said. “I think she really, really loves the Highlands.” The queen hosted her family at her Scottish retreat every year for a summer holiday.

Sophie appeared close to tears as she bent down to take a closer look at the hundreds of floral arrangements left in memory of her late mother-in-law. She said “thank you” to the hundreds of people gathered as she waved to them.

Sophie, Countess of Wessex looks at messages and flowers left in memory of her late mother-in-law, Queen Elizabeth II. Reuters

After being at the scene for around six minutes, the family stood at the castle gates facing the public and waved, prompting them to break into a spontaneous round of applause.

Andrew also put his hands together in a prayer position and briefly bowed to the crowd to give his thanks.

Ross Homer, who serves as a royal engineer in the army, spoke with members of the royal family.

The 42-year-old had come to Balmoral from Kinloss with his partner Kate, 38, and two daughters Laila, 14, and Roxy, 12.

Speaking about the interaction, he said: “Everyone got out the car and started walking up the bridge.

“There was Andrew, Edward, Sophie and their daughter at the front. We said ‘sorry for your loss’ as they walked past and they said ‘thank you’, and as they carried on walking they spoke to people further up than us.”

Mr Homer added: “You could see the tears in their eyes, they looked very sad, you could see they had been crying.

“They showed their appreciation for everybody, standing with their flowers, it was lovely to see. A very heartfelt moment.

“It’s been a nice day to see how much she’s loved.”

King Charles III, his wife Queen Consort Camilla and Prince William were not present as they are in London for official duties. Charles was officially proclaimed king of Britain in a historic Accession Council at St James’s Palace on Saturday, attended by the queen consort and William, Prince of Wales.

On Sunday, the queen's coffin is expected to be taken by road to the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh.

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Updated: September 12, 2022, 8:48 AM