LONDON – To the somber lament of a lone bagpiper, the Queen Mother Elizabeth's coffin was carried from a small stone chapel at Windsor Castle into a hearse Tuesday and driven through mourning villages to London.
Clad in black with heads bowed, her staff lined Windsor's gravel driveway as the coffin was carried out of the Royal Chapel of All Saints, where it had lain for the past two days.
Her personal piper, Jim Motherwell, played a lament called "The Dark Island" in tribute to her Scottish roots, as the coffin, draped in the Queen Mother's personal flag, was placed inside a black hearse.
Small groups of people gathered in villages along the route as the hearse, flanked by police motorcycles, drove the 25 miles to London.
In the city, hundreds of people lined The Mall and gathered quietly outside the gates of Buckingham Palace to watch the procession pass and pay tribute to the popular former queen, who died Saturday at the age of 101.
"To see the coffin, draped in the Queen Mother's own standard, was quite an emotional experience. She was so regal but at the same time so down to earth," said Jennifer Pressley, 38, who waited for more than three hours to see the convoy.
At St. James's Palace the coffin was carried into the Queen's Chapel — mirroring scenes seven weeks ago when the body of Elizabeth's daughter Princess Margaret was brought to London. It will remain at the palace until Friday, when it will be moved to Westminster Hall at the Houses of Parliament to lie in state. The public will be able to pay their respects before a funeral service at Westminster Abbey on April 9.
The Ministry of Defense announced Tuesday that 1,700 members of the army, navy and air force would take part in the funeral procession. The coffin will be carried on a gun carriage of the King's Troop of the Royal Horse Artillery.
Britain's state broadcaster, the British Broadcasting Corp., hit back Tuesday at criticism of its coverage of the queen mother's death.
Criticism has centered on BBC1's breaking news coverage Saturday night, during which presenter Peter Sissons wore a burgundy tie. Some media reported that the network had barred the wearing of black ties as a sign of mourning, a claim denied by the BBC Tuesday.
The Times newspaper also said members of the royal family were unhappy, with some feeling more airtime should be devoted to the death and others angry at "intrusive" BBC questioning of the queen mother's niece. Media reported that Prince Charles' invitation to the Independent Television network to film his tribute to his grandmother was a snub to the BBC. Buckingham Palace would not comment Tuesday on the reports.
"It is complete nonsense to imply that there has been a ban on presenters wearing black ties," the BBC said in a statement. "The guidance to presenters was that they should wear somber clothes for the announcement of the Queen Mother's death and black ties for the funeral."
The Church of England, meanwhile, issued special prayers for the queen mother, a church spokesman said.
"We praise you today for your servant Elizabeth the Queen Mother and for all that you did through her. Meet us in our sadness and fill our hearts with praise and thanksgiving," ran the text of one prayer.
In a very personal tribute shown on television Monday across the country, Prince Charles praised his grandmother.
He described her as "an institution in her own right, a presence in the nation .... at once indomitable, somehow timeless, able to span the generations; wise, loving, and an utterly irresistible mischievousness of spirit."
"I know what my darling grandmother meant to so many other people," he said.