For many, the platinum jubilee pageant was an opportunity to look back at the Queen’s 70-year reign.
But friends Megan Goddard, 21, Hannah Thickett, 23, and Jessica Cavill, 22, said the festivities left them contemplating the future.
The trio gathered on the Mall to watch the final piece of the lavish four-day celebration in which Megan’s father dressed up as a lion as part of the parade.
“We were actually discussing what will happen when the Queen is no longer here, and what that means for the way things are run,” Hannah, a dance teacher, said.
“Will things be as formal? Will the kids be able to have a cuddle if they want without having to curtsy? Will things change when William becomes king and will the family be more connected to the younger generation?
“Obviously the Queen was very young when she was crowned but now that she’s older we do feel a bit distant. It’s interesting to see if the younger generation will make us more connected.”
Margaret Russell, 71, from Bournemouth, traveled to London with Alicia, her friend of 40 years. Wearing a cardboard trilby hat decorated with photographs of the Queen, Margaret reflected on the “superb and wonderful” weekend of festivities.
But she said the future of the monarchy was “not good” with the prospect of Prince Charles as king. She described him as a “buffoon-like” character who jumps from one cause to the next.
“He’s not a likeable person,” she said. “One minute he’s doing one thing and growing vegetables the next. That’s not want we want. We just want stability.”
She said the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge could modernize the institution and make it more appealing to a younger generation.
“I hope the next king and queen will be William and Kate,” she said. “They are 110% more modern. The younger generation like my grandson don’t know who the royal family are but I think William and Kate can make them more excited by it.
“I think it’s such a shame what might happen if Charles is made king. It needs to be William. He’s ready for it.”
Actor Simon Morton-Bass, 57, and his husband, Ian, 59, from Thornton Heath, said they hoped the celebrations would encourage younger people to take an interest in the monarchy.
Wearing the same red blazer he wore to the Queen’s golden jubilee celebrations in 2002, Simon said: “A lot of the people here are probably thinking it probably won’t be long for the Queen so this is the last hurrah for her.
“What will happen when Charles comes in, I’m not sure, it feels like it might be a shaky period, but William being so strong on climate change – and that being very much on top of people’s minds – it could be fine.
“A little bit probably in some people’s minds, it feels like a last gasp, but I think it will encourage the younger generation to take an interest because they can see how enthusiastic the older generation are.”
Retired customer services adviser Zahoor Ahmed said he has admired the Queen since moving to the UK from Pakistan more than 50 years ago.
The 62-year-old, who traveled from Walthamstow, east London with his wife, Riffat, 56, her sister, Aftab Raja, 52, and her husband, Intakhab Raja, 53, said he thought the public would warm to Prince William when it was “his turn”.
“I always celebrate whatever the Queen is doing. She’s very likeable and whenever she appears on the TV you can see her smile – no other government figure has that effect. She’s been through a lot with her own family and yet she’s always got a smile on her face,” he said.
“I think the monarch is a really nice person, but some of her family is not so much. But William and his family come across well and I think people will take to them when their turn comes. People like their style and they will welcome them.”
Vicky Carruthers, who is from Australia but has lived in Newcastle for three years, said she saw the festivities as a “once in a lifetime” opportunity.
The 36-year-old doctor took the train to London this morning with her children Gordon, four, and Elizabeth, six, who proudly announced: “I have the same name as the Queen.”
Vicky said: “The kids, particularly my daughter, are absolutely obsessed with the Queen. I think it’s been a great weekend and wonderful to come together after everything with Covid.
“I’m an Australian republican but as a dual British citizen I think the monarchy has a really important place in the UK and its future, and it’s a great way of people coming together and celebrating togetherness.”