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Queen Elizabeth II’s coffin makes journey through Scotland

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Queen Elizabeth II’s coffin makes journey through Scotland

EDINBURGH, Scotland (AP) — Queen Elizabeth II’s flag-draped coffin slowly processed through the rugged Scottish countryside Sunday on a final days-long journey from her beloved Balmoral Castle to London. Mourners packed bridges and city streets and lined rural roads and highways, some tossing flowers to honor the monarch who reigned for 70 years.

The hearse drove past piles of bouquets and other tributes as it led a seven-car cortege from Balmoral, where the queen died Thursday at age 96, for a six-hour trip through Scottish towns to Holyroodhouse palace in Edinburgh. The late queen’s coffin was draped in the Royal Standard for Scotland and topped with a wreath made of flowers from the estate, including sweet peas, one of the queen’s favorites.

The procession was a huge event for Scotland as the U.K. takes days to mourn its longest-reigning monarch, the only one most Britons have ever known. Hours before the coffin’s arrival in Edinburgh, the Scottish capital, people turned out early to grab a space by police barricades. By afternoon, crowds were 7-8 people deep in places, eager to be part of such a historic occasion.

“I think she has been an ever-constant in my life. She was the queen I was born under, and she has always been there,” said Angus Ruthven, a 54-year-old civil servant from Edinburgh as he awaited the arrival of the coffin.

“I think it is going to take a lot of adjusting that she is not here. It is quite a sudden thing. We knew she was getting frailer, but it will be a good reign for King Charles,” he predicted.

The first village the cortege passed through was Ballater, where residents regard the royal family as neighbors. Hundreds of people watched in silence and some threw flowers in front of the hearse as it passed.

“She meant such a lot to people in this area. People were crying, it was amazing to see,” said Victoria Pacheco, a guest house manager.

In each Scottish town and village the entourage drove through, they were met with muted scenes of respect. People stood mostly in silence; some clapped politely, others pointed their phone cameras at the passing cars. In Aberdeenshire, farmers lined the route with an honor guard of dozens of tractors.

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Before reaching the Scottish capital, the cortege traveled down what is effectively a royal memory lane — passing through locations laden with House of Windsor history. Those included Dyce, where in 1975 the queen formally opened the U.K.’s first North Sea oil pipeline, and Fife, near St. Andrews University, where her grandson Prince William, now the Prince of Wales, studied and met his future wife, Catherine.

Sunday’s solemn drive came as the queen’s eldest son was formally proclaimed the new monarch — King Charles III — in the rest of the nations of the United Kingdom: Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. It came a day after a pomp-filled accession ceremony in England for that king that was steeped in ancient tradition and political symbolism.

“I am deeply aware of this great inheritance and of the duties and heavy responsibilities of sovereignty, which have now passed to me,” Charles said Saturday.

Just before the proclamation was read Sunday in Edinburgh, a protester appeared with a sign condemning imperialism and urging leaders to “abolish the monarchy.” She was taken away soon afterward by police. Reaction to the protest was mixed. One man shouted, “Let her go! It’s free speech!” while others shouted: “Have some respect!”

Still, there was also some booing in Edinburgh when Joseph Morrow, Lord Lyon King of Arms, finished his proclamation with the words “God save the king!”

Ann Hamilton, 48, said she thought it was “absolutely terrible” that people booed the royal family during the proclamation of King Charles III in Edinburgh.

“There’s tens of thousands of people here today to show their respect. For them to be here, heckling through things, I think it was terrible. If they were so against it, they shouldn’t have come,” she said.

Still, it was a sign of how some, including Britain’s former colonies, are struggling with the legacy of the monarchy. Earlier, proclamations were read in other parts of the Commonwealth, including Australia and New Zealand.

Charles, even as he mourned his late mother, was getting to work at Buckingham Palace, meeting with the secretary-general and other representatives of the Commonwealth. Many in those nations are grappling with affection for the queen and lingering bitterness over their colonial legacies, which ranged from outright slavery to corporal punishment in African schools to looted artifacts held in British cultural institutions.

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Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, who had started laying the groundwork for an Australian republic after an election in May, said Sunday that now was the time not for a change but for paying tribute to the late queen.

India, a former British colony, observed a day of state mourning, with flags lowered to half-staff on all government buildings throughout the country.

Amid the grief enveloping the House of Windsor, there were hints of a possible family reconciliation. Prince William and his brother Harry, together with their respective wives, Catherine, Princess of Wales, and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, delighted mourners near Windsor Castle with a surprise joint appearance Saturday.

The queen’s coffin was taking a circuitous journey back to the capital. On Monday, it will be taken from Holyroodhouse to nearby St. Giles’ Cathedral in Edinburgh, where it will remain until Tuesday, when it will be flown to London. The coffin will be moved from Buckingham Palace on Wednesday to the Houses of Parliament to lie in state until a state funeral at Westminster Abbey on Sept. 19.

In Ballater, the Rev. David Barr said locals consider the royals as “neighbors” and try to treat them as locals when they spend summers in the Scottish Highlands.

“When she comes up here, and she goes through those gates, I believe the royal part of her stays mostly outside,” he said. “And as she goes in, she was able to be a wife, a loving wife, a loving mum, a loving gran and then later on a loving great-gran — and aunty — and be normal.”

Elizabeth Taylor, from Aberdeen, had tears in her eyes after the hearse carrying the queen’s coffin passed through Ballater.

“It was very emotional. It was respectful and showed what they think of the queen,” she said. “She certainly gave service to this country, even up until a few days before her death.”

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Corder reported from London.

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Follow AP coverage of Queen Elizabeth II at https://apnews.com/hub/queen-elizabeth-ii

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Remember last year’s Memorial Day travel jams? Chances are they will be much worse this year

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Remember last year’s Memorial Day travel jams? Chances are they will be much worse this year

The patience of Memorial Day weekend travelers was tested Thursday by widespread delays across the country, but there were relatively few canceled flights, raising hopes that airlines can handle bigger crowds expected Friday.

By early evening on the East Coast, more than 6,000 flights had been delayed Thursday, with the biggest backups at the three major airports in the New York City area and Dallas-Fort Worth International.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pasha Pidlubniak waits for a domestic flight at Miami International Airport, Thursday, May 23, 2024, in Miami. A record number of Americans are expected to travel over the 2024 Memorial Day holiday. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

 

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Pasha Pidlubniak waits for a domestic flight at Miami International Airport, Thursday, May 23, 2024, in Miami. A record number of Americans are expected to travel over the 2024 Memorial Day holiday. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

 

The Transportation Security Administration predicted that Friday will be the busiest day for air travel over the holiday weekend, with nearly 3 million people expected to pass through airport checkpoints. It could rival the record of 2.9 million, set on the Sunday after Thanksgiving last year.

“Airports are going to be more packed than we have seen in 20 years,” said Aixa Diaz, a spokesperson for AAA.

When they aren’t waiting out flight delays, travelers are reporting sticker shock at the prices.

At Chicago’s O’Hare Airport, Larisa Latimer of New Lenox, Illinois, said her airfare was reasonable but other expenses for a getaway to New Orleans were not.

 

 

 

 

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Motorists travel along Interstate 24 near the Interstate 40 interchange Thursday, May 23, 2024, in Nashville, Tenn. A record number of Americans are expected to hit the pavement over the 2024 Memorial Day holiday. (AP Photo/George Walker IV)

 

Motorists travel along Interstate 24 near the Interstate 40 interchange Thursday, May 23, 2024, in Nashville, Tenn. A record number of Americans are expected to hit the pavement over the 2024 Memorial Day holiday. (AP Photo/George Walker IV)

 

“I just have to make the accommodation,” she said. “The rental car is up … this year, the hotel accommodations were very unusually expensive.”

Kathy Larko of Fort Meyers, Florida, used frequent-flyer miles — and some flexible scheduling — to pay for her trip to Chicago.

“I’m really conscious of looking at the cost of the entire trip. We’re staying a little farther out than we normally would” to get a lower hotel rate, she said. “We’re also flying back a day later, because we could get cheaper miles.”

More travelers will be on the road. AAA estimates that 43.8 million people will venture at least 50 miles (80 kilometers) from home between Thursday and Monday, with 38 million of them taking vehicles.

 
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Travelers wait at a TSA checkpoint at the Los Angeles International Airport, Thursday, May 23, 2024, in Los Angeles. A record number of Americans are expected to travel over the 2024 Memorial Day holiday. (AP Photo/Ryan Sun)

 

Travelers wait at a TSA checkpoint at the Los Angeles International Airport, Thursday, May 23, 2024, in Los Angeles. A record number of Americans are expected to travel over the 2024 Memorial Day holiday. (AP Photo/Ryan Sun)

 

Airport unions are using the holiday weekend to highlight their demands.

About 100 workers who clean airplane cabins and drive trash trucks at the airport in Charlotte, North Carolina, started a 24-hour strike Thursday, demanding better pay and healthcare, according to the Service Employees International Union. About 15% of flights were delayed, but it was unclear whether the strike played any role.

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A planned strike at John F. Kennedy Airport in New York was averted, however. Teamsters Local 553, which represents about 300 workers who refuel passenger and cargo jets at JFK, said that it reached a settlement with Allied Aviation Services and called off a walkout planned for Friday.

 

 

 

 

 

 

George Ridley, 4, left, rides on a suitcase as he and his father Chris Ridley make their way through the Nashville international Airport, Thursday, May 23, 2024, in Nashville, Tenn. A record number of Americans are expected to travel over the 2024 Memorial Day holiday. (AP Photo/George Walker IV)

 

George Ridley, 4, left, rides on a suitcase as he and his father Chris Ridley make their way through the Nashville international Airport, Thursday, May 23, 2024, in Nashville, Tenn. A record number of Americans are expected to travel over the 2024 Memorial Day holiday. (AP Photo/George Walker IV)

 

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“We are happy an agreement has been reached, a need for a strike averted, and we are hopeful that the deal will be ratified by our members,” said Demos Demopoulos, the secretary-treasurer of the local.

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Associated Press video journalist Melissa Perez Winder in Chicago and Associated Press radio reporter Shelley Adler in Washington contributed to this report.

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Texas health department appoints anti-abortion OB-GYN to maternal mortality committee

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Texas health department appoints anti-abortion OB-GYN to maternal mortality committee

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Texas’ health department has appointed an outspoken anti-abortion OB-GYN to a committee that reviews pregnancy-related deaths as doctors have been warning that the state’s restrictive abortion ban puts women’s lives at risk.

Dr. Ingrid Skop was among the new appointees to the Texas Maternal Morality and Morbidity Review Committee announced last week by the Texas Department of State Health Services. Her term starts June 1.

The committee, which compiles data on pregnancy-related deaths, makes recommendations to the Legislature on best practices and policy changes and is expected to assess the impact of abortion laws on maternal mortality.

Skop, who has worked as an OB-GYN for over three decades, is vice president and director of medical affairs for the Charlotte Lozier Institute, an anti-abortion research group. Skop will be the committee’s rural representative.

Skop, who has worked in San Antonio for most of her career, told the Houston Chronicle that she has “often cared for women traveling long distances from rural Texas maternity deserts, including women suffering complications from abortions.”

Texas has one of the most restrictive abortion bans in the U.S., and doctors have sought clarity on the state’s medical exemption, which allows an abortion to save a woman’s life or prevent the impairment of a major bodily function. Doctors have said the exemption is too vague, making it difficult to offer life-saving care for fear of repercussions. A doctor convicted of providing an illegal abortion in Texas can face up to 99 years in prison and a $100,000 fine and lose their medical license.

Skop has said medical associations are not giving doctors the proper guidance on the matter. She has also shared more controversial views, saying during a congressional hearing in 2021 that rape or incest victims as young as 9 or 10 could carry pregnancies to term.

Texas’ abortion ban has no exemption for cases of rape or incest.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, which says abortion is “inherently tied to maternal health,” said in a statement that members of the Texas committee should be “unbiased, free of conflicts of interest and focused on the appropriate standards of care.” The organization noted that bias against abortion has already led to “compromised” analyses, citing a research articles co-authored by Skop and others affiliated with the Charlotte Lozier Institute.

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Earlier this year a medical journal retracted studies supported by the Charlotte Lozier Institute claiming to show harms of the abortion pill mifepristone, citing conflicts of interests by the authors and flaws in their research. Two of the studies were cited in a pivotal Texas court ruling that has threatened access to the drug.

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Michigan farmworker diagnosed with bird flu, becoming 2nd US case tied to dairy cows

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Michigan farmworker diagnosed with bird flu, becoming 2nd US case tied to dairy cows

A Michigan dairy worker has been diagnosed with bird flu — the second human case associated with an outbreak in U.S. dairy cows.

The male worker had been in contact with cows at a farm with infected animals. He experienced mild eye symptoms and has recovered, U.S. and Michigan health officials said in announcing the case Wednesday.

A nasal swab from the person tested negative for the virus, but an eye swab tested Tuesday was positive for bird flu, “indicating an eye infection,” U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officials said.

The worker developed a “gritty feeling” in his eye earlier this month but it was a “very mild case,” said Dr. Natasha Bagdasarian, Michigan’s chief medical executive. He was not treated with oseltamivir, a medication advised for treating bird flu, she said.

The risk to the public remains low, but farmworkers exposed to infected animals are at higher risk, health officials said. They said those workers should be offered protective equipment, especially for their eyes.

Health officials say they do not know if the Michigan farmworker was wearing protective eyewear, but an investigation is continuing.

In late March, a farmworker in Texas was diagnosed in what officials called the first known instance globally of a person catching this version of bird flu from a mammal. That patient reported only eye inflammation and recovered.

Since 2020, a bird flu virus has been spreading among more animal species — including dogs, cats, skunks, bears and even seals and porpoises — in scores of countries.

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The detection in U.S. livestock earlier this year was an unexpected twist that sparked questions about food safety and whether it would start spreading among humans.

That hasn’t happened, although there’s been a steady increase of reported infections in cows. As of Wednesday, the virus had been confirmed in 51 dairy herds in nine states, according to the U.S. Agriculture Department. Fifteen of the herds were in Michigan.

The CDC’s Dr. Nirav Shah said the case was “not unexpected” and it’s possible more infections could be diagnosed in people who work around infected cows.

U.S. officials said they had tested 40 people since the first cow cases were discovered in late March. Michigan has tested 35 of them, Bagdasarian told The Associated Press in an interview.

Shah praised Michigan officials for actively monitoring farmworkers. He said health officials there have been sending daily text messages to workers exposed to infected cows asking about possible symptoms, and that the effort helped officials catch this infection. He said no other workers had reported symptoms.

That’s encouraging news, said Michael Osterholm, a University of Minnesota epidemiologist who has studied bird flu for decades. There’s no sign to date that the virus is causing flu-like illness or that it is spreading among people.

“If we had four or five people seriously ill with respiratory illness, we would be picking that up,” he said.

The virus has been found in high levels in the raw milk of infected cows, but government officials say pasteurized products sold in grocery stores are safe because heat treatment has been confirmed to kill the virus.

The new case marks the third time a person in the United States has been diagnosed with what’s known as Type A H5N1 virus. In 2022, a prison inmate in a work program picked it up while killing infected birds at a poultry farm in Montrose County, Colorado. His only symptom was fatigue, and he recovered. That predated the virus’s appearance in cows.

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The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Science and Educational Media Group. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

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