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Kittyhawk had flown her last: Robert Hardman watches as Queen’s coffin is flown to London

She landed at 6.55pm… Kittyhawk had flown her last: ROBERT HARDMAN watches Queen’s coffin flown from Scotland to London before procession halts traffic en route to the capital

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Kittyhawk flew her last one. Last night at 6:55 am, the most traveled monarch in history landed for the last time – at least on this Earth.

The Queen’s RAF C-17 landed at RAF Northolt, dwarfing everything around it – a huge plane to carry such a small box. Has it ever carried a more precious load?

Like any flight with the Queen, this one was called Kittyhawk. Air traffic control will no longer hear that turbulent signal.

As always, the Princess Royal – the great royal heroine of recent days – was by her mother’s side.

The Princess Royal arrives with the Queen's coffin at RAF Northolt before traveling to Buckingham Palace

The Princess Royal arrives with the Queen’s coffin at RAF Northolt before traveling to Buckingham Palace

After leaving her beloved Scotland – East Lothian beamed in the late afternoon sun – the Queen arrived in London to find that that evening drizzle had done nothing to deter the hulking crowds, who remain a source of great comfort to her family ( if not the authorities).

Last night she lay at rest in Buckingham Palace. Even after all the events of the past few days, it was still extraordinary to think that this was her last night in the building that has shaped her entire life.

You can easily chart her 96 years in terms of appearances on that balcony – from little girl, wartime underling, dazzling bride and Coronation Queen, to this summer.

In those richly decorated rooms she had received just about all the important figures of post-war history.

Robert Hardman: After she left her beloved Scotland - East Lothian beamed in the late afternoon sun - the Queen arrived in London to find that that evening drizzle had done nothing to deter the hulking crowd, who continue to be a source of great comfort to her. family is

Robert Hardman: After she left her beloved Scotland - East Lothian beamed in the late afternoon sun - the Queen arrived in London to find that that evening drizzle had done nothing to deter the hulking crowd, who continue to be a source of great comfort to her. family is

Robert Hardman: After she left her beloved Scotland – East Lothian beamed in the late afternoon sun – the Queen arrived in London to find that that evening drizzle had done nothing to deter the hulking crowd, who continue to be a source of great comfort to her. family is

Yet there could never have been an evening so full of history and poignancy as the evening she spent there yesterday, surrounded by just a small clique of those who knew and loved her most.

It was, of course, an evening with a sense of finality, but it was also a first.

It’s safe to say that the Queen had never before spent a night in the Palace’s Bow Room, the pretty center of the ‘semi-state apartments’ overlooking the garden.

It is there that her coffin will remain ‘at rest’ this morning, as all the Palace staff will have the opportunity to personally say goodbye to a boss who is widely admired and even adored.

This afternoon, the Queen leaves the royal headquarters for the last time as her coffin travels with all the majesty the nation can muster, with her family and friends following behind. Then full state service begins and the ceremonial machinery rooted in a thousand years of history takes over.

Last night was officially an ‘operational’ return from Edinburgh to London. It wasn’t even meant to be a big party. Yet it was just as emotionally charged — and dramatic — as one of the government’s biggest state gains.

Pallbearers of the RAF carried the coffin of the late Queen Elizabeth II in RAF C17 aircraft before it was flown to RAF Northolt

Pallbearers of the RAF carried the coffin of the late Queen Elizabeth II in RAF C17 aircraft before it was flown to RAF Northolt

Pallbearers of the RAF carried the coffin of the late Queen Elizabeth II in RAF C17 aircraft before it was flown to RAF Northolt

All the way from RAF Northolt to the palace they bowed, sobbed, clapped and occasionally threw a rose in her path.

Westbound traffic on the A40 simply came to a halt as commuters exited their cars to climb the median strip and salute. The closer she got, the bigger the crowd, the louder the cheers. Beyond Paddington Station – that’s a name we’ve been hearing a lot lately – the sidewalks were at saturation point.

The route widened as she turned off Park Lane and passed the site of her childhood home on Piccadilly (she loved it there and hated the move to Buckingham Palace).

When the hearse reached the palace, we heard not only clapping and cheering, but even whistles of appreciation.

It is fascinating that there is still no set way to honor Her Majesty. Mourn her, celebrate her – it’s up to the individual.

But now her great journey through her kingdom has come to an end. Let the full majesty of the greatest farewell of all time begin now in earnest.